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Posted: December 04, 2013
Leading European Airline Improves Service and Scalability with Hybrid Cloud Solution
easyJet, a leading low-fare airline in Europe, wanted to offer new features without costly investment in on-premises infrastructure. To enhance its registration system, the airline implemented a hybrid cloud solution that includes a seating allocation application that runs on the Windows Azure platform. Now, easyJet has a more flexible, scalable infrastructure that it can use to introduce new features quickly and affordably. And these new features have boosted customer satisfaction.
Based in Luton, England, easyJet is the largest airline in the United Kingdom and the fourth-largest carrier in Europe. It operates 685 routes and sells 61 million tickets annually. Building on its reputation for providing great service at low cost, the airline wanted to improve the customer experience without adding staff or IT infrastructure.
Offering new features, including the ability for customers to choose their own seats, was a top priority. However, easyJet faced several challenges in implementing a new solution. The airline outsourced its IT infrastructure, and operated with a lean team of IT professionals. It needed a delivery platform that would be affordable, easy to manage, and highly scalable.
“We’re really good at handling the kind of scale that involves huge sales and seasonal peaks,” says Bert Craven, Enterprise Architect Manager at easyJet. “But it’s more difficult to manage unpredictable factors like weather conditions and external industrial action. When those things occur, the parts of our infrastructure designed to give real-time information come under real pressure.”
Initially, the airline looked at deploying a seat allocation solution on the same on-premises platform that it used for its reservation system. However, it discarded the idea when it realized that building a new, high-availability infrastructure across two data centers would be too costly and time-consuming, with too many uncertainties about scalability and workload.
Not only that, but the CUTE infrastructure is very difficult to scale to the fluctuating needs of the travel industry. “We have to tell airports months in advance how many desks we need to handle passenger load,” Craven says. “It’s a real capacity-planning challenge.”
easyJet wanted to explore new, low-risk options for expanding online services. “It’s all about making travel easier and more affordable for our customers, while being able to deliver features quickly,” says Heath Roylance, Senior Project Manager at easyJet. “We need to be really agile and adaptable.”
The vision was to have easyJet agents roaming around check-in areas with mobile devices. While passengers could still drop bags at traditional fixed locations, they could also look for agents wearing bright orange easyJet shirts who would check them in if they hadn’t already checked in on the Internet, print their boarding passes, check and tag their bags, and move them right to security without having to wait in a single line. Agents could even book a rental car for passengers or provide other services from the handheld device.