House of Travel outsources to Revera

Move has already reduced costs and improved performance, says IT manager

New Zealand’s largest privately-owned travel agent, House of Travel, (HoT) is about halfway through transferring its server workload to Revera, in Christchurch, where the travel company has its head office.

The move has already reduced costs and improved performance, says David Veronese, general manager of IT operations, and it will help the company’s expansion into Australia.

Two years ago, HoT realised its servers and routers were in need of an upgrade; they were four or five years old, Veronese says. After considering possible internal solutions, “we said: this is crazy; we’re a travel company, not an IT company”, he says.

Evaluating potential outsourcing suppliers took about a year, with another six to eight months to settle the contract and flesh out the detail of the move with successful supplier Revera. The transfer began last October. “So far, we’ve moved our Active Directory, our firewalls and our proxy servers and the core back-office database; Exchange and Mail Marshal are all ready to go.”

The next major step will be the transfer of the servers running HoT’s online business, he says. The cutover is scheduled to be complete in another six to eight weeks.

HoT employs 1,300 New Zealand staff in 85 branch sites and has operations in every state of Australia.

The company’s 100-plus servers, core applications and networking, previously housed in HoT’s own Auckland and Christchurch server rooms, will be consolidated in Revera’s Virtual Data Centre in Christchurch, where it provides a significant chunk of business to help kick off the centre, which started up in mid-2008.

Some servers will be retained in the Australian operation for performance and resiliency. Revera’s Auckland datacentre will supply disaster-recovery services, some in a permanently “warm” state of readiness.

Revera was batting against Datacom and Gen-i for the contract, and was the only one of the three to put up a full utility computing service, says Veronese. The other contenders proposed buying equipment specifically for HoT, which they would house and lease back to the travel company.

Now Revera takes care of the infrastructure. “We do everything from the operating system up,” Veronese says. One infrastructure support-staff member has been redeployed and is now managing applications.

Revera has good technical staff and is a small company, making it possible to build a relationship with the same people covering the various aspects of the system, says Veronese.

Now HoT doesn’t have to worry about training staff in the detailed aspects of maintaining routers – knowledge that was used only occasionally.

“We’re really blown away by the performance differences. It’s a new generation of technology.” Most of the improvement, Veronese says, is probably due to Revera’s SAN replacing the simpler disk arrays on HoT’s old HP servers.

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