Thursday, May 08, 2008

Airport Security and Scalability

Travelling through Heathrow terminal 4 in January I was interested to see that the shoe checking had been decoupled from the rest of the xray security i.e. there was an initial xray check followed in a separate area by a security examination of shoes.

This was an excellent example of a tiered architecture since presumably someone had done the analysis to show that bottlenecks in throughput were created by the shoe check. By separating out the shoe check it could be independently scaled (i.e. additional resources could be applied to the check) allowing overall greater throughput.

I was therefore bemused travelling through Heathrow's shiny new terminal 5 last week to see that the design had reverted to the monolithic single layer with integrated xray and shoe check. Yet another move forward for T5?

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