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.
* It was actually faster deploying to Windows Azure than it was to our own internal test environment in some cases. We can try new things quickly, with very low risk and cost. *
Enterprise Architect, easyJet
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...