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Turkish Airlines Improves Application Performance by 50 Percent

Named “Best Airline in Europe” at the 2011 World Airline Awards, Turkish Airlines provides a wide range of online services that make it easy for customers to find flights, book tickets, check in, and manage their itineraries. As use of its online services increased, the company’s servers struggled to handle the traffic. Business-critical applications started to fail, and the quality of the customer experience decreased while business costs went up.

When the organisation deployed solutions from F5, these vital web applications became 50 percent faster, enabling the company to significantly improve the customer experience. The F5 solution also reduced IT costs and network management time.

Business Challenges


Turkish Airlines was founded in 1933 with just seven pilots, eight mechanics, eight officers, and a radio operator. It has since grown to become a major global brand, conveying over 31 million passengers a year to 179 international and domestic destinations.

The organisation enables its customers to book and reserve airline tickets through its website, as well as check in, track baggage, manage bookings, check the status of flights, view timetables, and make payments. These online services need to be fast and available 24/7 to meet the expectations and needs of passengers.

As more and more customers began to take advantage of Turkish Airline’s online services, the company’s servers became overloaded. Vitally important business applications started to fail, and this led to both a degradation in the customer experience and additional business costs.

“Our applications were slow and sometimes it wasn’t possible to access our reservation and ticketing system,” explains Faruk Aydin, Project Manager at Turkish Airlines. “This affected the business.”

“After offloading SSL to F5 BIG-IP LTM, our servers came to life.” Faruk Aydin, Project Manager, at Turkish Airlines



To address these challenges, Turkish Airlines decided to deploy F5 BIG-IP Local Traffic Manager (LTM) Application Delivery Controllers. The organisation installed three separate BIG-IP LTM devices: the 6900, 3900, and 1600 models. Together, these devices support over 100 application servers, across two data centres.

Turkish Airlines selected BIG-IP LTM over and above solutions from other vendors because of its ability to cope with a complex IT environment, including a layer 3 virtual server and virtual LAN (vLAN). Turkish Airline’s core web applications for ticketing, reservations, and check-in are all custom .NET and JAVA solutions. The organisation  found that BIG-IP LTM was capable of  supporting these bespoke applications,  as well as its other core business systems,  including Microsoft SharePoint, Microsoft  Exchange, and Microsoft Lync.

Straight away, Turkish Airlines was able to reduce the load on its servers by around 40 percent, by transferring SSL traffic to the BIG-IP LTM devices. It was also able to compress its data by 70 percent, significantly reducing its bandwidth requirements.  This had an immediate impact on the performance of the company’s servers.  “After offloading SSL to F5 BIG-IP LTM, our servers came to life,” says Aydin.

Turkish Airlines takes advantage of F5’s flexible programming language, iRules, to help it address a range of complex issues that it had previously struggled to resolve.  For example, the organisation uses iRules for client caching, redirections, authentication, and request and response manipulation. It also uses iRules to redirect HTTP to HTTPS to increase the security level for its web services. Use of BIG-IP LTM strengthens the company’s security in general and helps it to achieve compliance with the Payment Card Industry (PCI) Data Security Standard (DSS).

“BIG-IP LTM has freed up the IT department and has given us much more time for other projects.” Faruk Aydin, Project Manager, at Turkish Airlines



Following the deployment of BIG-IP LTM, application response times increased by an impressive 50 percent. In addition, 3.5 seconds were shaved off the time required for the organisation’s main website to load. These application performance improvements enable Turkish Airlines to deliver a high level of service to over 1 million registered users of its online services.

In 2011, Turkish Airlines was named “Best Airline in Europe” at the World Airline Awards. This accolade was awarded to Turkish Airlines following feedback from 18.8 million airline customers who participated in a customer survey. Turkish Airline’s success is, of course, the result of a great many factors, but the strong performance of the company’s online services is likely to have had a positive impact on customer perceptions.

In the company’s IT department, the deployment of BIG-IP LTM has reduced the amount of network management time required by 90 percent, and the IT team can encrypt around 200 percent more traffic.  “BIG-IP LTM has freed up the IT department and has given us much more time for other projects,” Aydin says.

Use of BIG-IP LTM has helped the company to reduce costs, too. Turkish Airlines has reduced its Internet and leased line costs and no longer has to upgrade its servers or buy additional servers in the immediate future. Commenting on these financial savings, Aydin says, “While we cannot calculate the exact time period, we expect to achieve return on our investment in F5 solutions in approximately one year.”