How Azure Infrastructure Keeps Cargolux Airlines In Flight

As businesses grow, legacy infrastructure can start to get in the way. That’s exactly what happened to the cargo airline, Cargolux. The leading airline operated in an outsourced environment, which was fine until the business started to grow rapidly and needed more capacity and agility. To support growth, Cargolux decided to drive a major migration of its IT infrastructure and had a huge challenge on its hands. Fortunately, the company turned to Azure developers to enable it to accelerate the transformation and gain a competitive edge in a fast-changing market. 

What Challenges Was Cargolux Facing? 

Cargolux is one of Europe’s largest all-cargo airline fleets, providing freight services across the globe using an all-Boeing 747 fleet alongside a network of trucking contractors. The airline offers an extensive range of services from everyday cargo to shipments that require expert handling and boasts the strapline ‘you name it, we’ll fly it’. As well as its home base at Luxembourg airport, the company has over 85 offices in more than 50 countries. As a company that has always strived to incorporate innovative concepts while focusing on quality, keeping freight moving smoothly at all times is paramount. 

Cargolux operated on an outsourced environment that was built predominantly around Windows virtual machines in a third-party data centre. However, as the business was growing and customer needs were evolving, the company felt the pressure to transform. Ultimately, a change was required to be able to support the business growth and maintain its competitive edge in the industry. The company gave itself a huge challenge, with one year set to lift and shift around 250 virtual machines to the cloud. These virtual machines were running business-critical applications and services, so successful migration was fundamental to operations. 

How Azure Provided the Solution

In 2019, a new Chief Technology Officer joined the company to help drive the migration of the company and supported the choice to work with Microsoft Azure. The reasoning was that with Azure, the lift and shift would be as simple and straightforward as possible without impacting day-to-day operations in the process. The company used a number of Azure services to help make the migration as seamless as possible:

  • Azure Site Recovery – to migrate servers from the managed data centre to Azure, Cargolux employed Azure Site Recovery. This delivered ease of deployment, cost-effectiveness and dependability as the service ensures that all applications continue running during both planned and unplanned outages. 
  • Azure Virtual Machines – Cargolux calculated the Azure compute units needed and then shifted to Azure Virtual Machines (VM). Azure VMs offered the flexibility of working virtually without the need to buy and maintain the physical hardware to run it. 
  • Azure Resources – as the company transitioned to serve business applications, it took advantage of the countless Azure resources on offer such as training, videos and code samples. 
  • Azure Storage – Cargolux took advantage of Microsoft’s cloud storage solution, which offers highly available, scalable and durable storage for a variety of data objects in the cloud. What’s more, those data objects are accessible from anywhere in the world, which perfectly serves the company’s global requirements. 

Azure Virtual Machines are scalable and combined with Azure Storage provided an efficient, dynamic infrastructure that would allow the company to quickly respond to market changes and business needs. In no time, Cargolux had tens of business-critical applications running on Azure, supporting flight operations, aircraft maintenance, cargo management and more. There are also more than 100 supporting applications and services being run on Azure with virtual machines supporting in-house development. With Azure, developers can create and decommission resources on-demand, reducing costs and increasing efficiency. 

The Benefits of a Zero Trust Approach

For Cargolux, as for many businesses, security of employee, internal and customer data, wherever it resides, is vital. That meant that moving workloads to Azure was just the beginning, the company needed to move towards a Zero Trust approach. Fortunately, Microsoft Security delivers all the materials required. However, end-to-end security in the cloud environment also requires a different way of thinking and organisational change. As part of its transformation, in a bid to protect its critical workloads, Cargolux redesigned its network infrastructure to facilitate Microsoft’s strong, platform-based security products.

Zero Trust works by removing inherent trust that is assumed inside of traditional corporate networks. By implementing Zero Trust architecture, Cargolux could establish strong identity verification, validate device compliance before granting access and ensure least privilege access to business-critical resources. Ultimately, the Zero Trust approach requires that every transaction is validated and proven trustworthy before a transaction can occur. The approach includes multi-factor authentication, the use of biometrics, device health validation, auditing, monitoring and telemetry and the enforcement of least privilege access. 

As cloud environments are attractive targets for adversaries aiming to steal, destroy or leverage business-critical and sensitive data, security is fundamental. By implementing Zero Trust, Cargolux can reduce the attack surface, mitigate the impact and severity of attacks and reduce the time and cost of responding after a breach. Ultimately, Zero Trust security is the most effective form of cloud security. 

Could Azure Help You to Transform Your Business? 

Not only did Azure help Cargolux gain business agility, but it delivered the logistics required when the Covid-19 pandemic hit. With a modern, responsive, cloud-based IT service, it was much more able to respond to market changes. In this case, it was able to help move medical equipment and supplies internationally at a time when spare cargo capacity in cargo planes was severely reduced. 

If your business needs a more agile and adaptive IT environment, then Azure can most certainly help. What’s more, it can help you to create a more connected environment, both internally and with your customers. Of course, transformation on this scale doesn’t happen overnight but by taking migration one step at a time and leveraging Microsoft’s vast experience with support from Azure consultants, you can quickly make rapid business improvements. 

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About the author

Michael Ridland is the Co-CEO and Founder of Xam Consulting.

Design-led problem solving delivering digital solutions.

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