We have virtually 24/7 uptime for our border-control solution in all the airports that we operate in across North America, because of the reliability we get using AWS.
Linda Schucroft Director, Innovative Travel Solutions, Vancouver International Airport

Innovative Travel Solutions (ITS) is an independent business unit within Vancouver International Airport (YVR) that is responsible for solving passenger processing challenges and, where appropriate, commercializing solutions for sale to other airports. To date, the team has focused on developing, selling, and supporting its BORDERXPRESS kiosks. ITS is the largest provider of non-registered, self-service border-control solutions, with more than 1,200 kiosks operating in major international airports in Canada, the United States, the Caribbean, and the Pacific. This solution has helped more than 100 million passengers clear the border quickly and safely. YVR—managed by Vancouver Airport Authority—is Canada’s second busiest airport and served 22.3 million passengers in 2016. Fifty-five airlines serve YVR, connecting people and businesses to more than 125 nonstop destinations worldwide.

ITS originally hosted its BORDERXPRESS Automated Passport Control solution in two on-premises data centers at Vancouver International Airport. ITS managed a central application that uses multiple databases and applications, with its airport-based kiosks communicating to the system. “We were supporting all the kiosk applications in cities like Chicago, New York, and dozens more,” says Linda Schucroft, director of Innovative Travel Solutions at Vancouver Airport Authority.

ITS wanted to be able to quickly scale its solution as it grew. “We were growing fast, with plans to add more airports, so we sought the agility to quickly add virtual servers,” Schucroft says. Security was another major focus area. “Because of the nature of what we’re doing, and the confidentiality of data, we have to have strong security in place,” Shucroft says. In addition, ITS sought to enhance its disaster-recovery capabilities.

To address its availability and agility goals, ITS turned to Amazon Web Services (AWS). “We researched different cloud technologies, but Amazon was the clear industry leader,” says Schucroft. “They offered a simpler progression from on-premises to the cloud, and they provided the best global coverage and support.” After choosing AWS, ITS chose to partner with TriNimbus Technologies, an AWS Partner Network (APN) Premier Consulting Partner. “We needed the right partner to help us move to the cloud, and TriNimbus fit our needs. They helped us design, configure, deploy, and fine tune everything in the cloud, which we couldn’t have done on our own.”

TriNimbus and ITS implemented an environment based on Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) instances to support the airport’s application and supporting servers. The solution also takes advantage of Elastic Load Balancing to automatically distribute incoming traffic between multiple Amazon EC2 instances. In addition, the design uses multiple Availability Zones for redundancy.

ITS uses Amazon Relational Database Service (Amazon RDS) for its database platform, incorporating the service in a multi-Availability Zone configuration for redundancy. ITS also uses Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3) to store backups and Amazon CloudWatch to proactively monitor its Amazon EC2 instances.

For disaster recovery, ITS takes advantage of geographically separate AWS regions, with its production systems residing in one region and disaster-recovery systems residing in another. The organization also uses AWS CloudFormation templates to maintain consistency in each environment. To remotely manage the kiosk applications, ITS uses third-party management tools within AWS.

After conducting a proof of concept to test the solution, TriNimbus and ITS migrated all systems to production. The solution is now being used in 34 airports in Canada, the United States, the Caribbean, and the Pacific, and it has processed more than 100 million travelers.  

With its AWS Cloud-based border-control solution, ITS can guarantee high availability for its kiosk applications. “We have virtually 24/7 uptime for our border-control solution in all the airports that we operate in across North America, because of the reliability we get using AWS,” says Schucroft.

In addition, ITS can provide solid security for its applications. “We use many of the security certifications Amazon has in place, and that gave U.S. Customs and Border Protection a lot of confidence,” says Schucroft.

The organization is also able to ensure application uptime while rolling out system updates. Schucroft says, “Using AWS CloudFormation templates, we can seamlessly refresh our virtual servers and test images before we push them out to production. As a result, we can deploy updates with zero downtime to our customers.”

By relying on different AWS regions to support its border-control platform, ITS has the disaster-recovery capabilities it needs. “Our solution is distributed to airports all over North America, and we are confident we can provide service to all those airports in the event of a disaster because of our AWS disaster-recovery architecture,” says Schucroft.

ITS also has the agility to quickly add virtual servers as needed. “Using AWS, we can quickly deploy new virtual servers, which will help us scale as our solution continues to expand to other airports,” says Schucroft. “And when we roll out a new feature that takes up a lot of bandwidth, we can easily launch another application server to stabilize traffic.”

Additionally, ITS benefs from the support provided by TriNimbus, which includes proactive monitoring and support services. “TriNimbus went above and beyond in helping ITS get this solution up and running. They did a fantastic job,” says Schucroft. “We look forward to working with them as we expand the solution to more airports and add new application features and other services.

  • A Premier Partner of the AWS Partner Network (APN). TriNimbus combines its software engineering background with 24/7 operational support (DevOps) to help customers successfully increase agility and availability, tighten security, optimize performance, automate deployments, and manage costs.
  • For more information about how TriNimbus can help your company build and manage your AWS environment, see TriNimbus’ listing in the AWS Partner Directory.

Learn more about AWS disaster-recovery solutions.