From passenger processing through cargo operations to aircraft e-enablement, the Cloud promises to optimize processes. Now it’s moving into different business areas, touching every step of the journey.
‘Every cloud has a silver lining’. So the saying goes. In the case of cloud computing, that silver lining may be more than simply because of the Cloud’s transformational capabilities in the IT and infrastructure environment.
True enough, on a technical level, cloud is changing the game. It’s certainly the case in air travel, where SITA’s own Airport Transport Industry (ATI) Cloud is giving industry organizations:
- New ways of working in a virtual and mobile workplace.
- Transformation and distributed IT consolidation, with a virtual private cloud.
- New ways of distributing and consuming applications.
It’s also the case as cloud enables changed attitudes to service delivery – through the cost-effective use of the massive resources on hand with virtual data centers in the Cloud, for example.
Then there’s the promise of cloud as it increasingly combines with other technology trends – such as big data, business intelligence, analytics and mobility.
As Benoit Verbaere, SITA’s Portfolio Director for ATI Cloud, SaaS, puts it: “We’ll see an air transport industry with the ability to process and analyze immense amounts of information differently and more quickly than ever before; to understand it; and to be able to use it to great effect in processes across the whole journey within air transport.”
The big question
But there’s another trend gathering momentum. We’re now seeing cloud evolve as a powerful solution dedicated to specific areas of the business – whether it’s airport operations, or passenger processing or aircraft operations and e-enablement, as new technologies enter the aircraft cabin.
The big question today is whether cloud of the future will increasingly focuses on multiple different parts of the business throughout the journey, delivering value at a business level as much as it does technically.
So will we witness not only the growth of the ATI Cloud but also a raft of dedicated business area-related clouds, such as the Airport Operations Cloud, or an Aircraft Operations Cloud, or the Cargo Operations Cloud?
The precedent is there in the impact of cloud on customer relationship management thanks to salesforce.com. It now looks like SITA is poised to lead the way with a similar transformation in air transport with its ATI Cloud.
“As SITA’s ATI Cloud evolves, it certainly appears to be the case that specialized clouds focused on certain business areas are drawing a lot of attention,” says Verbaere.
“Our experience with customers already using the ATI Cloud is that they are beginning to reap value at the business and not just the IT level.”
Air navigation is a prime example, where recently the ATI Cloud became a vital piece of the jigsaw in a collaborative initiative to give Air Navigation Service Providers (ANSPs) access to next generation invoicing and revenue solutions.
It meant the setting up of a new SITA cloud-based business for over-flight charges and billing, called SITA Bureau Services (SBS), which works in partnership with CANSO and Airways, New Zealand’s ANSP.
Late 2013 saw the launch of a new service, Flightyield.
Cloud is impacting airport operations too. Take regional airports. SITA’s AirportConnect Open for Regional Airports is making the same capabilities available to small and regional airports as their larger counterparts are using today.
“Focusing specifically on the business of regional and smaller airports, this approach gives them the opportunity to embrace a ‘pay-as-you-go’ model,” says Verbaere.
“That approach makes market-leading IT available to a wider audience of airports than ever before, with the necessary infrastructure being cloud-based rather than on-site, increasing accessibility and substantially reducing costs for smaller airports,” he says.
This has meant deploying key infrastructure in cloud data centers so that smaller airports can share the infrastructure while maintaining operational integrity.
There’s no upfront investment for the bundled package, which includes all required hardware, software, network connectivity and remote support.
In a significant development, the ATI Cloud is also bringing new ways of working to those responsible for aircraft operations and eEnablement, offering a platform based on a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) model.
“This is enabling new flexible approaches,” says Verbaere, “such as ‘try & buy’ as well as the ability to pay-as-you-go and to scale up and down quickly to respond to business cycles.”
Days not months
Critically, that means services can be introduced rapidly in aircraft operations, with changes made in double quick time.
Now running in the ATI Cloud, SITA’s AIRCOM Server – which links aircraft to existing airline systems – is attracting great attention as it’s possible to implement it with a SaaS model in days, compared to months for the non-cloud AIRCOM.
“There’s great potential in this area of aircraft operations,” says Verbaere, “such as a zero cost foot print and the ability to be extremely nimble.
Airlines can switch capabilities and scalability as needed and they don’t need to purchase additional servers, which explains the increasing take up of the approach.”
Already adopted by many airlines, the service requires no on-site infrastructure, and no capital expenditure.
More journey steps
Cloud scenarios in other business area are emerging strongly. In airport passenger processing, total cost of ownership will be cut as the ATI Cloud delivers existing applications onto mobile devices and even third party desktop infrastructure.
Not only that, with application management centralized, it’s taking just four hours to deploy new versions of the service to all sites and devices.
Similar time savings can be realized in cargo operations. As cloud begins to take hold there, it’s now possible to provision a Tier 1 airline in just five days and, again, with no capex.
In the same way that SITA’s own applications are rapidly being embedded into the Cloud, an evolving online marketplace store will make new air transport apps from third party developers available through SITA’s Cloud Marketplace at the click of a mouse.
Now taking shape, the Cloud online marketplace store will be covered in the next issue.
So the momentum gathers, as the ATI Cloud plays an increasingly key role in raising the performance of the industry' core processes through new cloud-enabled business models.