DNS-DHCP-IPAM (DDI solutions) for airport networks

As airports embark on their digitalization journeys, the significance of connectivity is more pronounced. For an airport to function as a global aviation gateway, connectivity is no longer a mere utility but a strategic asset, crucial to its operations, much like its runways. For reliable and secure connectivity that connects all stakeholders, services, and private wireless networks of various airport subsystems, a comprehensive solution is essential to lay the foundation for mission-critical IP communications.

A complex network infrastructure, like those in airports, requires a centralized remedy such as a DDI solution that converges the entire airport into a common IP infrastructure.

What is a DDI solution?

A DDI solution serves as the starting point for comprehensive network management that integrates and automates the three core services of a network: Domain Name System (DNS), Dynamic Host Configuration protocol (DHCP), and IP address management (IPAM) through a single unified interface. It ensures that the network administrator has thorough visibility, precise control, and seamless coordination of these services.

It automates the IP network management, offering high availability, elastic scalability, holistic control, centralized visibility, and advanced security, all grounded in policy-driven management and automation. As a full-stack solution, it consolidates these three core network services into a single interface, streamlining airport network administration and enhancing operational efficiency.

Download a free, 30-day trial of ManageEngine DDI Central now to unlock the full potential of your airport’s digital infrastructure.

Here’s how a DDI solution can optimize a fully-connected airport network:

1) Centralized control over digital airport connections

Digital airports use various services and devices, acting as hubs for essential IP connections that enable efficient collaboration and secure coordination among stakeholders, ensuring smooth aircraft flow and passenger journeys. To support operational excellence and enhance passenger experiences, these connections should be centralized and converged under a common platform.

DDI solutions provide a centralized platform to manage DNS, DHCP, and IPAM functions, simplify the oversight of IP addresses and automate the IP address management for core network services DNS and DHCP. A DDI solution offers real-time holistic visibility into the airport’s IP infrastructure by converging all components under one cohesive IP address plan, to enable instant, centralized, yet granular control over network resources.

2) Optimized aircraft turnaround operations from APOC to apron

Turnaround operations refer to the processes that take place between the arrival and departure of an aircraft at an airport. These operations involve a coordinated effort to prepare an aircraft for its next flight in the shortest possible time to allow for more flights and increase aeronautical revenue for the airport. DDI solutions enable quick, paperless and efficient turnarounds for airports and airlines to effectively maintain flight schedules, reduce delays, cut extra costs, and provide a better experience for passengers.

A DDI solution enables you to dedicate a network segment or subnet to manage turnaround operations for aircraft on the ground at specific terminals. With a DDI solution, you can program the DHCP server provisioning for that segment to instantly identify and integrate the aircraft using its MAC address as soon as it connects to the airport’s network.

Establish low latency connectivity to facilitate seamless communication and coordinated operations among the flight-deck crew, cabin crew, and ground crew. Effortlessly deliver real-time updates on the latest passenger information to pilots’ electronic flight bags and cabin crew tablets for effective above-wing operations. Enhance turnaround times with reliable wireless connectivity for cabin crew tablets, baggage scanners, and other below-wing devices, enabling de-icers, baggage handlers, and ground crew managers to work more effectively.

Set up secure transactions for airport operators to access and offload terabytes of telemetry data from aircraft telemetry systems to ground systems for analysis, monitoring, and maintenance purposes. This data includes a wide range of information related to the aircraft’s performance, operational status, and system health. Also, provide passengers with timely updates regarding flight information and any disruptions.

3) Streamlined airside operational and situational surveillance

With a DDI solution airport operators can flexibly relocate the key surveillance devices like remote control PTZ cameras, sensors, thermal cameras, wireless CCTVs, and connected wearables of ground crew operators along the airside by assigning them fixed IP addresses or DHCP reservations, guaranteeing continuous connectivity and eliminate blind spots.

These devices stay connected to the network and continually monitor airside operations for difficult to track activities such as baggage handling, refueling, catering. They also provide live navigational support for various transportation vehicles including passenger buses, follow-me marshall cars, and aircrafts along runways, taxiways, ramps, hangars, and terminals.

This setup supports real-time audio-video streams and enables better decision-making in the Airport Operations Control Center. This provides for faster responses to emergencies and helps ensure greater safety and efficiency in airport operations.

4) Reliability and continuity for people, services, and things

Continuity is paramount for airport devices and services. To ensure they are always available to all stakeholders, a DDI solution helps airport network administrators by providing high availability pairs to serve as auto-failover setups for core network services like DNS and DHCP.

For a domain to be readily accessible, it is configured with multiple primary nameservers that act as peers and multiple secondary DNS servers performing as backups in case all the primaries fail during an outage. To diversify risks, administrators can host their domains across various cloud vendors offering DNS management as a service, ensuring mission-critical domains are always available.

To provide continuous availability of DHCP services, each subnet is configured with primary and multiple secondary servers that either load balance the DHCP traffic or take over if the primary DHCP server fails. This auto-failover setup ensures there’s always a DNS or DHCP server available to handle requests, maintain seamless network operations, and minimize downtime.

5) Building self-defending networks with multilayered security

In a highly segmented network with devices constantly moving in and out, such as in an airport network, deploying cybersecurity measures to each segment can be inefficient. Since DNS is the first layer of contact between the airport and the public network, a DDI solution enhances the self-defending capabilities of airport networks by implementing  secure and powerful DNS firewalls.

This firewall acts as the first line of defense, monitoring, identifying, blocking, and redirecting users connecting to malicious domains using response policy zones. It recognizes unusual spikes in DNS query traffic and combats compromised sources acting as botnets, trying to overwhelm the network with indefinite queries through DNS amplification with response rate limiting policies.

Additionally, each network segment created via subnetting the IP address space enhances network security by isolating network segments, reducing the attack surface, and preventing unauthorized lateral movement of threats. Subnetting enables targeted monitoring and control, ensuring that if one segment is compromised, the rest of the network remains protected.

6) Enhanced passenger connectivity and experience

Enhance passenger connectivity and provide smoother travel experiences from check-in to take-off. Airport WLANs enable LAN and internet access for passengers. Airports use 4G/5G networks managed through an access control hub to organize signals into virtual LANs (VLANs). Public VLANs serve passengers, while private, secure VLANs are reserved for airport staff, ensuring separate and protected access for different user groups.

After passengers clear security checks, the DHCP server allocates a segment for operational services via a dedicated private wireless network. This transition frees up existing shared Wi-Fi and public mobile networks, offering passengers a faster, high-quality, and more reliable wireless experience throughout the terminal. This approach ensures better connectivity and a seamless journey, enhancing passenger satisfaction and improving airport service quality scores.

7) Redefining airport business: The rise of non-aeronautical revenue

The airport non-aeronautical revenue (NAR) market is projected to grow by USD 43.1 billion from 2024 to 2028, with a CAGR of 8.84% during this period, according to the 2024 Technavio research report. The growth is driven by the evolution of sophisticated terminals, increasing transit and transfer passenger traffic, and the implementation of airport loyalty programs.

With this accelerating growth, embracing a DDI solution optimizes an airport’s network for seamless scalability, reliability, and security, enhancing core business functions and creating new NAR sources. Airport service providers can maximize the return on private wireless investment by offering value-added wireless services for airlines, baggage-handling companies, ground crew firms, maintenance firms, and even passengers. Effective network segmentation via DHCP server programming allows operators to segregate and prioritize traffic while deliver reliable and secure wireless services to different user groups.

Additionally, new IP-enabled services like virtual and e-commerce services, urban air mobility, multi-modal connectivity, energy hubs, and EV charging services improve passenger experience and boost revenue. IP enabled digital tools such as airport maps and QR code menus to guide passengers to shops and restaurants, enhancing their retail experience and increasing airport revenue.

Could your airport benefit from a DDI solution?

Investing in a DDI solution transforms your airport into a world-class aviation gateway that handles high-density business and leisure travels everyday   by ensuring robust and seamless connectivity for all people, services, and devices within the airport.

With centralized, automated, and efficient management of DNS, DHCP, and IP address allocations for each network segment as per its policy, DDI solutions improve network visibility, control, scalability, security, and troubleshooting capabilities. In short, a DDI solution is indispensable for modern airport network management. The digital airports backed by an ideal DDI solution delivers unparalleled travel experience where reliability, efficiency, and personalization, converge—keeping waiting minimal, exploration limitless, and the possibilities endless.

Build the foundation for seamless airport networking with ManageEngine’s comprehensive DDI solution, DDI Central, a holistic solution for network administrators that seamlessly integrates the three core network infrastructure services—DNS, DHCP, and IPAM—into a single platform, enhancing operational efficiency and network stability.

Start your free, 30-day trial today to see DDI Central transform your airport network infrastructure.