What do you know? Someone else is cheerful about the T5 debacle. This time, it's a Cisco PR.
"An instance like this makes a clear case," says Ed Tan, public relations manager at Cisco, pointing to an Information Week article on the failure of the new terminal to cope with passengers and their luggage.
Well, it doesn't make a very clear case that I can see, and even less now, as it's been updated. "British Airways Cancels Heathrow Flights Amid Computer Chaos," says the headline, but after an intro that mentions T5's IBM logistics and its Aruba wireless network, the article fails to make any real connection between T5's problems and its network, let alone those providers. Update: The article no longer mentions Aruba or IBM.
At this stage, as we all know, BA is blaming the situation on staff shortages and signage, and BA staff are blaming them on lack of training from BA.
In any case, if the network is at fault, then I'd have thought the problem could just as easily lie with the Cisco equipment, which handles the wired part of it (which Information Week doesn't mention and we do).
Still, BA's CEO Willie Walsh does mention "computer glitches" in passing, and that's enough for IW, which in turn is enough for Tan to assure me the whole fiasco "shows the importance for client interoperability like CCX, AssureWave testing, etc."
"If a wireless LAN is going to be used for absolutely business-critical operations, it needs to work flawlessly. Do you agree?" he blusters. Well, obviously, I say, but is there any evidence that interoperability was the problem? I don't think BA and BAA have issued a statement saying "Oh dear. If only we'd stuck with a Cisco wireless LAN and used CCX, it would all be all right."
Tan assures me he's not gloating, and asks again: "How important is client interoperability as we come to rely more heavily on WLANs?" Well, duh. Obviously it’s important. But I've not heard anything to suggest that Aruba's networks are less interoperable than others. And over the years, I have heard questions raised about the proprietary nature of Cisco's CCX extensions to the 802.11 standard.
Meanwhile, Aruba's European marketing guy, Roger Hockaday, re-united with his luggage, tells me that, as far as he knows, "The wireless network is not connected to the conveyor control system, and is unrelated to the baggage back-up problems currently experienced at the site."
The WLAN can actually be used by staff for baggage tracking, Alan Newbold, IP design leader for T5 told us, but that sounds different from any suggestion that the whole thing depends on the WLAN.
If the WLAN played any part in the failure, I wouldn't expect BA, and contractor Ove Arup, to comment on anything that granular at this stage, but if they do, I'll let you know.