Stella Travel Services in New Zealand has centralised and virtualised its entire IT environment for the company’s corporate travel units over the past 12 to 18 months, says Dhaya Sivakumar, general manager of IT.
Central to this was a move to remote applications provisioned through SAM (Sabre Agency Manager).
Previously Stella was using Serko, a remote application provider that specialises in the travel industry.
“It’s a move from having some of our core systems externally hosted, to having it all external,” says Sivakumar, an early adopter of cloud computing in New Zealand who is featured in this month’s cover story in CIO magazine.
With Serko, Stella had to employ in-house product specialists and data warehousing experts to manage the data and all the appropriate software licences, and to look after all its own upgrades.
“We were investing a lot of time and energy into maintaining infrastructure services. We wanted to redirect those resources into meeting the needs of our customers and the needs of the business. IT outsourcing allowed us to align our people with those needs, as opposed to looking after the infrastructure,” he says.
With the move to cloud computing, Stella’s IT staff are now able to spend more time on improving applications productivity and usability. This is bringing positive, bottom-line results in the form of increased productivity and lower cost of sales, says Sivakumar.
“The positive side of the change is obviously scale and cost,” says Sivakumar.
The company no longer has to keep its own infrastructure running to the consistent availability that the travel industry requires.
A service level contract has been signed with SAM giving assurance of constant service, which does not require input from Stella’s ICT staff.
One overall lesson is that success in cloud computing depends on how good the partnership with the supplier is. This is far more the case than with a conventional software development or purchase, where the project has a clear beginning and end. In the cloud, the relationship is ongoing and has to be a good one.
“You and the vendor are joined at the hip,” says Sivakumar.
With SAM, he says, “We started out on a rocky road, I admit, but the relationship is now working a lot better.”