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If you’ve travelled at all it’s likely you will have crossed paths with products from Amadeus IT Group – whether that’s the software that manages flight searches and hotel bookings or boarding a plane. Now the 30-year-old company has picked VMware to deliver a private OpenStack-based cloud, to support VMware vSphere workloads and as part of a wider digital transformation.

Amadeus built its own private cloud to better address the agility, stability and scale needs of its own internal operations team and those of its customers.

“[Travel] is a very specific segment and a very demanding environment,” says Udo Sebald, who runs service portfolio management at Amadeus. “The systems that we operate have to scale to a very large number of transactions – if you imagine we process 3.8 billion transactions per day in peak situations it gives you an impression. Our systems need to be very scalable and flexible to satisfy peak demands.”

The company had a long-standing partnership running with VMware in other areas of the business, and found success in network, infrastructure, storage and server virtualisation.

“Now we not only provide the infrastructure as a platform, we also build the applications ourselves to a very large extent,” Sebald says. “So we looked at what would be the next step after virtualisation, how we can get to that infrastructure as a service environment, so we would be able to use not only our own infrastructure in our own data centre environments but also rely on third party infrastructure, which we could use as if it was our own infrastructure.”

VMware Integrated OpenStack

Amadeus’ infrastructure as a service platform runs on VMware Integrated OpenStack, NSX, vSAN and vSphere. The company says it specifically picked the OpenStack distribution for its integration with vSphere and NSX, as well as because it is conducive to agile development.

The company is not yet running a majority of its workload in this environment, but has made solid progress in virtualisation and using OpenStack. However as customer demand increases Sebald believes more of this will be migrated over.

“These investments we are making are, for us as a company, pretty significant,” Sebald says, speaking about why the company plucked for VMware. “That’s why we want to make sure whatever we do, we do it in an environment where we can be reasonably sure those investments are there to stay and we’re not betting on the wrong horse.”

The company will measure the success of the deployment by examining how many of its processes it can automate, which “in turn relies on things being virtualised and things being on infrastructure as a service,” Sebald explains. “We’re basically measuring what level of automation we have achieved in specific processes, for example, in change and incident management. We also measure what level of virtualisation we have introduced in the data centre.”

But ultimately the company will be counting customer satisfaction as the main metric for success.

“If you look into the whole situation from the customer perspective, customers demand from us a certain level of service stability, they expect a certain level of agility, to be able to bring in changes, and for a certain cost ratio,” he says. “Those are basically the parameters that steer our activities. If we cannot reach, for example, our system stability targets, we would not go for deploying a technology that would jeopardise this target. It’s all linked to those commitments we make to customers and how a technology such as OpenStack can support it.

“It’s all broken down from there, and so it needs to be seen in conjunction with those contractual commitments.”

There will be some challenges ahead – Amadeus is running a lot of software that will need to be migrated to newer technology stacks. It also faces industry-specific demands in terms of system monitoring. “You can imagine off-the-shelf tools more often than not do not satisfy the requirements we have, so we have to build a lot of this stuff ourselves,” he says.

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