Cloud Computing in Aviation

By Amit Phadke, Head - Systems and Technology, Accelya Kale Solutions

Many airlines today are inclined to hosted or outsourcing Revenue Accounting service to reduce capital and operating expenses by automating business processes, and adopting “as-a-service” cloud delivery models. When such a new airline signs contract, service providers like Accelya is expected to have a ready IT setup which can ensure faster implementation, IT security, scalability and agility to fit fluctuating market demands by leveraging shared service platforms, compliant with various standards like PCI DSS, ISO 27001:2005, ISAE 3402/SSAE 16 etc. Accelya has setup a shared services infrastructure and has invested in robust systems including engineered Oracle Exadata system, helping in rapid infrastructure provisioning, reduced technology cost, scalability and management of peak loads without really scaling up infrastructure for each customer in isolation.

We have also setup seamless disaster recovery (DR) infrastructure which ensures that recovery point objective (RPO) and recovery time objective (RTO) are met, thereby mitigating major business risks of prolonged outages.

By outsourcing the niche services to providers like Accelya who also own the software and have functional domain expertise, airlines IT team job is simplified focusing only on assessing IT SLAs and conducting periodic audits for internal compliance. This provides two distinct advantages:

1. Solution integration complexity is managed by service provider and hence airline internal IT resources need not be trained or pushed to manage such complex systems

2. Technology cost is significantly lowered on one hand and on other hand scalability is ensured by service provider

Cloud computing in airlines industry has certainly transformed the business processes and the way business is done. Analytics and business intelligence, customer (traveller) facing system consistency and availability, industry interfaces with external agencies and cost savings with improved focus on core services would be prime drivers of cloud computing adoption in airline industry.

Following are few areas where an airline can look at implementing cloud services:

1. Interfaces with external agencies - ticket reservation and distribution, CRM, outward or inward revenue management, loyalty or frequent flyer clubs.

2. Planning and operations – cargo management, miscellaneous services like ground handling, and fuel reports.

3. Strategic airline function – primarily business and route planning using decision support systems (DSS) like sector profitability, flight profitability, and strategic pricing to name a few.

4. Customer facing portals – mobility platforms for traveler self-services like web check-in, and mileage checks.

There are two types of cloud viz. public and private that are commonly known to most. However, third approach of community cloud offers high value proposition benefiting the airline with scale and optimized utilization, yet carrying the entire operations more securely over public cloud. Such an approach provides a platform for delivering common business applications, ensuring adherence to accepted standards and practices of the industry. This, thereby, gives airlines an opportunity to migrate on standardized platforms from current legacy systems.

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