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Application Decommissioning in Aviation and Aerospace

Calendar May 15, 2015 | User Eric Severson

In past blogs we’ve introduced the idea of Application Decommissioning, explained how it works, and showed you why it has such a compelling business case. Now it’s time to get down to some real examples.

Today we’re going to focus on the Aviation and Aerospace industry, particularly on the manufacturing side. In this case our customer is in the business of supplying critical component parts to the large airframe manufacturers – components so critical, in fact, that a complete record of their manufacturing and assembly process must be retained at least as long as they are in service. This includes specific details about component structure and design, when and how each component was assembled, the workstations and employees involved, related employee time records, and the specific parts and processes used.

App-Decommissioning-Blog2-300x214It’s important to note that manufacturers in the aviation and aerospace industry are held to more stringent requirements than may be true for other similar industries. That’s because in general their manufacturing process must adhere to military standards, which demand detailed recordkeeping and rigorous data retention. Because of the strategic nature of their products, they are also held to strict export control regulations such as the U.S. International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) and the U.S. Export Administration Regulations (EAR). These regulations cover not only the products themselves, but also all the related technical and manufacturing data.

In this example, our customer began with three such legacy applications, covering a variety of standard queries and reports needed to track historical manufactured components and related manufacturing processes. These include original manufacturing and assembly data, later modifications and part replacements, reported problems in the field, and associated data such as manufacturing cycle times and employee time records. While still actively used for queries and reports, this data is no longer used in production and is not integrated with any other systems. However, the legacy VAX VMS and Sun Solaris platforms on which it resides are expensive to operate and maintain. Thus these were perfect candidates for an initial proof of concept for Application Decommissioning.

Using the open source Talend ETL (Extract-Transform-Load) tool, we were able to extract all the legacy data, transform it to XML, and store it in EMC’s InfoArchive. Because of the sensitive nature of the data and the need for export control compliance, in this case the InfoArchive repository is being run in a secure “vault” (limited access server environment) directly accessible only by authorized personnel in IT. All the original report formats have been recreated in the InfoArchive environment, and can be run only by authorized IT personnel responding to requests from authorized business users.

Based on the success of this initial three-application pilot, our customer plans to decommission over 20 additional applications in the next year, and a total of 113 legacy applications over the next 2-3 years. In all, $30-40 million dollars in annual savings are expected to be realized through these efforts. This will free up a tremendous amount of budget to work on more strategic IT projects, and is a huge win for the company.

Of course, the global aviation and aerospace industry is made up of more than component manufacturers. There are also airframe manufacturers, airline operators, parts manufacturers, maintenance repair organizations, and other organizations, all of whom have expensive legacy applications being retained only for their data and who are subject to the same sorts of regulations. We expect to see a broad array of companies in all these sectors adopting Application Decommissioning over the next several years.

In our next blog, we’ll turn our attention to the Health Care industry, which has completely different types of data and applications but has enjoyed similar success in Application Decommissioning. As you’ll see, while the details vary by industry and specific organization, the concept applies everywhere.

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