Air Transport Industry Cloud Becomes Reality as SITA Launches First Services for Customers

SITA has announced the launch of SITA desktop-as-a-service (DaaS), the first of its air transport community cloud computing services. This follows the 6 April 2011 announcement that SITA was building a dedicated community cloud which has the potential to save the air transport industry millions of dollars in costs.

SITA DaaS will enable airlines and airports to access applications, programmes, processes and data from central data centres managed by SITA. This will happen efficiently and simply using any tablet, smartphone or PC without requiring installations on local hardware. For example, an airline will be able to provide crews with rosters, email and a number of corporate applications hosted in the cloud and accessible from any internet-enabled device instead of having to supply laptops or PCs with the programs installed on each one.

When accessing their applications in the air transport industry (ATI) cloud, end-users will see no reduction in responsiveness as the infrastructure aims to achieve no more than 100ms of latency when customers are operating their applications in the cloud. This is due to the global footprint of the infrastructure, which includes six data centres on five continents and is designed to meet the demands of the air transport industry’s worldwide operations. SITA has joined forces with Orange Business Services to build this global, high-performance, managed cloud infrastructure that allows both partners to deliver a portfolio of flexible, secure, and on-demand cloud computing solutions to their customers.

Francesco Violante, SITA CEO, said: “Since announcing the ATI Cloud in April we have made rapid progress to launch our first services. Our initial offering, SITA DaaS, is set to revolutionise the way the industry operates by giving companies the agility to face any business challenge. SITA DaaS also has the potential to reduce costs as companies move from the traditional PC and local computing model.”

Airports and airlines adopting SITA DaaS will see an immediate difference in the way they operate in terms of agility, efficiency and cost saving. By providing access to virtual desktops in the cloud to its ground operations staff and partners, an airline will be able to quickly adapt its IT to route expansion or contraction, flight disruptions or traffic spikes, and at lower cost. Such deployments would normally take months but with the ATI cloud all operators at the various locations around the world will have their applications instantly.

In the case of an event such as a volcanic eruption or heavy snow where an airline needs to increase rapidly its customer enquiry capability, hundreds of new users can be created in the system and given access to applications very quickly. Specific hardware installation is no longer needed, instead people can be empowered, working from home or on the road, to serve customers simply, quickly and cost effectively.

Violante added: “The launch of SITA DaaS reaffirms our commitment to building the ATI cloud. It also demonstrates to companies in the air transport industry wishing to take advantage of cloud computing, that the dedicated ATI cloud is the right way forward. Based on secure, industry-standard shared infrastructure, it provides the cost and service management advantages of shared infrastructure, with the protection and dependability of a private cloud and the level of performance and reliability required to operate globally.”

There is strong demand for cloud computing and for DaaS across the whole air transport industry. According to the Airline IT Trends Survey 2011, some 93% of airlines have implemented or plan to implement cloud computing services by 2014. And some 77% plan to implement desktop as a service by 2014. Malaysia Airlines is one such airline and has piloted the new SITA DaaS service.

Abdul Mutalib Ishak, vice president retail and distribution, Malaysia Airlines, said: “Our recent successful pilot of SITA DaaS has demonstrated that it will enable airlines such as Malaysia Airlines to become even more responsive to our customers’ needs, even more flexible when unforeseen events occur, and even more efficient. It will allow us to manage some of our business challenges such as, setting up a virtual call centre, opening or moving offices and enabling temporary users for crisis management. We are in the final stage of negotiations to become the launch customer for SITA DaaS.”

SITA plans to announce further customers over the coming months.

SITA DaaS is now live with over 30 applications client-certified, including the horizon passenger management system and SITATEX Client, the type B operational mail application used by 2,300 customers around the world, as well as other third party airline-specific applications.

SITA will be introducing many more applications over the next few months, building on its experience of managing around 1,200 applications in the common-use environment today. The next service to be launched in the air transport industry cloud will be SITA infrastructure as a service (IaaS).

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