Taking to the Sky: How Cisco Success Tracks Helps Aerolíneas Argentinas Orchestrate Network Health
Every Argentinean knows Aerolíneas Argentinas. We’re the most famous and important airline in Argentina, flying people throughout the country and around the globe. In 2023, Aerolíneas Argentinas expects to transport about 13 million passengers, and it’s the preferred airline for Argentinians. Aerolíneas Argentinas also supports organizations like our World Cup Champion national soccer team, flying them back from their big win in Qatar. During the COVID-19 pandemic, we provided medical flight service, flying in millions of doses of vaccines.
Given our high profile, the health of our network is critical, and we have to make network health a priority to ensure the safety and security of our customers and our brand. Any disruption in connectivity can disturb activities such as flight dispatch, check in, and ticket sales. These disruptions could have a significant impact on our customers and our bottom line, with consequences ranging from flight cancellations and delays to revenue loss—which could severely damage the customer experience and the Aerolíneas Argentinas reputation.
As a network engineer and the airline’s network administrator, I’m one of the people in charge of the network’s health. I oversee 11 team members
across three groups: Network Support (solving problems and keeping things up-to-date); Projects (planning and building our network); and Radio Communications. We manage nearly 90 different sites, domestic and international.
Across our enterprise, we believe digitalization is the future of innovation and the key to unlocking new opportunities. If we can capitalize on it, we can reduce risk and scale to deliver the highest level of service innovation to our customers.
Simplifying an Incredibly Complex Network
One of the biggest challenges we face at Aerolíneas Argentinas is keeping our network up to date. We need to quickly adopt and leverage new technologies to meet constantly evolving business priorities—and stay ahead of the competition. But our environment is diverse, which can make it difficult to keep up with software and hardware updates. We are also digitizing and constantly gathering data, and we need all of this information to be available in a simple, fast way.
For a long time, we were manually managing our inventory and assessing our vulnerabilities, which often meant having to open and search in different programs to find the necessary information. This often took a lot of time and effort—especially when it came to support cases, which had to be handled one by one. As a state-owned company, we must participate in public tenders for all equipment and license purchases, and this results in us having various partners and contracts. With so many programs and partners, so much information, and the vast scope of the network, we had to find a more streamlined solution that allowed us to handle network information faster and more simply.
I’ve used a lot of solutions over the years, and one of my longest relationships is with Cisco. I’ve used Cisco equipment for 15 years, and as a technical leader, I share my enthusiasm for Cisco with the rest of my team. About a year and a half ago, we were renewing our SMARTnet contract, and Cisco, who has been an active partner to us for years, suggested Cisco Success Tracks, enabled by Cisco CX Cloud: a digital platform that provides everything we need, from inventory visibility to security alerts—all through a single portal.
Success Tracks is designed to simplify and accelerate the adoption of new technologies—exactly what we need to stay ahead of the curve. Success Tracks brought us access to the CX Cloud digital platform, which allows us to integrate other Cisco applications, like Cisco Technical Assistance Center (TAC) and our Meraki switches and access points. Since Cisco exchanges data with other platforms, we can always see live status information of everything on our network, which allows us to assess vulnerabilities. We no longer have to navigate through multiple programs and tabs to manually search for information about the network. Instead, all of that information, including our Meraki support cases and our TAC cases for other platforms, is right there in the portal, saving my team a lot of time.
And since Success Tracks helps us consolidate all of our contract and license information, it’s much easier to keep track of our vendor agreements and equipment. Monitoring the expiration date for each component of our current equipment is essential for our purchasing strategy, so we can align our technology needs with that of our business.
Targeted, On-Demand Team Training
We use Success Tracks to keep our team members knowledgeable by providing training material on demand, making the process of adopting new technologies much easier. We are constantly bringing on new technologies and, therefore, constantly training. We use several platforms for training, and everything is available on the portal.
Each of our network operators has their own user ID and learning path for a particular technology, so they can better understand the technology they are starting to use. This individualized training allows people to upgrade their knowledge on their own time. Everyone’s progress is visible in the portal, too. When a network operator reads through a training document or completes a lab, those updates happen in the portal and I can see that progress for each technician, making training much more transparent and effective. We can also modify training based on what we see. If we notice people aren’t moving through training as quickly as expected, we can encourage them to spend more time on it, or have a Q&A session to address any issues.
Cisco is everywhere, and Cisco product training is valuable for the personal development of our employees. They see this on-demand training as a great benefit to their careers, and it’s a positive perk that comes up during the hiring process. When working with some other vendors, it’s harder to find experts, so we’re more limited in our hiring options. Thanks to all the Cisco certifications and training academies, it’s easy to find technicians with expertise in Cisco systems, networks, and devices as well as Cisco certifications like CCNA, and the on-demand training helps us further develop their skills.
Cisco Is the Lynchpin of Our Success
When you have a critical problem like a network outage that affects operations thousands of miles away, there’s no time to go hunting through various systems. We have to act quickly, to know what’s happening and where it’s happening on the network. Success Tracks has simplified our systems so we can quickly bring up cases and solve problems faster, saving us time. And as the saying goes, time is money.
Cisco continues to help us optimize our system. As we replace parts of our legacy network, we are acquiring new switches and planning to move to Cisco DNA Center. We believe that the combination of using CX Cloud and Cisco DNA Center will be a powerful one for Aerolíneas. Combining secure and unified network management with a dynamic portal that integrates with network assets will give us an advantage and peace of mind when dealing with any issues that arise. It will boost the confidence of those who are managing the network that everything is always under control.
Cisco has been an important partner for Aerolíneas Argentinas, and they’re always with us for every step from implementation to support, making the process easier and faster. The Cisco team even supports us in unexpected ways. We once had an equipment issue that led to devices shutting down. Cisco helped us find a solution to the problem, even though it wasn't their responsibility. That dedication is hard to find.
A company the size of Aerolíneas Argentinas can’t leave anything to chance. Our future success depends on our ability to embrace innovation and technology. We need a strong technology partner to make that happen, and we’re lucky to have that partner in Cisco.