Vancouver Airport

The transition of all YVR customer airports from the on-premises system to AWS

Vancouver Airport Authority 1

Canada’s second busiest airport

Innovative Travel Solutions (ITS), an independent business unit within Vancouver International Airport (YVR), specializes in developing and delivering innovative industry-leading travel technology to enhance the overall traveller experience and airport performance. 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. 

Developed in 1931 to what is now Canada’s second busiest airport, Vancouver International Airport (YVR) welcomed 23 million people in 2016, facilitated more than 310,000 aircraft take-offs and landings, handled over 256,000 tonnes of cargo and employs over 350 employees.


Aviation, Transportation


Migrate to AWS & Maintain high availability, scalability and fulfill security requirements

Services & Tech

Cloud Migration, Amazon EC2, Amazon RDS, Amazon S3

Migrating a self-service border solution

Innovative Travel Solutions was first in the world to introduce a self-service border control solution designed to automate the administrative functions of United States Customs and Border Control. The solution was previously hosted in an on-premise data centre and needed to be migrated for a number of reasons. ITS partnered with Onica to successfully migrate their self-service border control solution to AWS.

A highly available, highly scalable, highly secure platform

In addition to high availability, scalability and a high degree of security, a key component of the implementation was to include a disaster recovery environment, continually tested for low Recovery Point Objective (RPO) and Recovery Time Objective (RTO) recoverability. Onica was brought on very early to consult on the project and subsequently recommended Amazon Web Services (AWS) as the platform of choice as it met the critical requirements.
Vancouver Airport Authority 2
“We brought Onica on-board very early to consult on our project and were impressed with their level of expertise. After delivering a successful migration and implementation solution which helped us transition to AWS, Onica continues to work closely with our team to provide round the clock expert support.”
Linda Schucroft
Director, Innovative Travel Solutions, Vancouver Airport Authority


The transition of all YVR customer airports from the on-premise system to AWS was a complete success. The addition of new customer airports is already underway and the system will continue to grow, leveraging the flexible nature of AWS as needs change. ITS has already benefited from the ability to quickly resize systems as needs change and this will continue to be beneficial as adoption of this system grows.

As the system went into production, Onica transitioned to providing 24/7 support providing proactive monitoring and support services for the environment. We also continue to provide design and consulting services as the business continues to grow with more airports, additional application features and new services.

AWS and Partner Solution

Onica was brought on very early to consult on the project and subsequently recommended Amazon Web Services (AWS) as the platform of choice as it met the critical high availability, scalability and security requirements.

After careful analysis, an architecture was designed together with a plan of the deployment phases that included risk identification and mitigation. The plan called for the creation of a staging environment for Proof of Concept (PoC), simulating a fleet of airport kiosks ensuring that PoC criteria were met, that satisfied all system requirements.

AWS Virtual Private Cloud (VPC) is an excellent platform providing the required security for this workload, using Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) instances for its application and supporting servers. Within AWS EC2, ITS is using Elastic Load Balancing (ELB) to automatically distribute incoming traffic between multiple AWS EC2 instances – these EC2 instances form part of Auto-Scaling Groups (ASG) providing the required scalability and fault tolerance. The design also uses multiple Availability Zones (AZ) for additional protection and redundancy of all systems. ITS also uses Amazon Simple Storage Service (S3) to store backups and Amazon CloudWatch to proactively monitor its EC2 instances through the AWS Management Console and the alerting capability.

ITS is using Amazon Relational Database Service (RDS) for its workload database platform. ITS chose to use AWS RDS for all the advantages offered by a fully managed database platform. Using RDS removes the need to perform typical administrative tasks as well as the complexities of managing a fault tolerant deployment. ITS uses the RDS service in a Multi-Availability Zone (Multi-AZ) configuration for its redundancy and near-instant failover capability.

ITS is leveraging the disparate AWS regions for disaster recovery with the Production systems residing in one region while the Disaster Recovery systems reside in a different region. In addition, consistency of environments is maintained across regions through the use of AWS CloudFormation templates that define the VPC configuration and resources required.

The environment is mostly Microsoft based and several third-party management tools were easily deployed within the AWS environment to manage all remote airport kiosks, providing the platform to scale the tools as the number of kiosks grow over time.

The PoC was followed by a beta period during which several airports were migrated to AWS and operated there in live production. With that success, all remaining airports were subsequently migrated to the AWS platform. During this project the Onica team worked closely with the ITS team guiding them through the process and supporting all manner of requests along the way.


Why Onica

Onica is one of the largest and fastest-growing Amazon Web Services (AWS) Premier Consulting Partners in the world, helping companies enable, operate, and innovate in the cloud. From migration strategy to operational excellence and immersive transformation, Onica is a full spectrum AWS integrator. Learn more at