Star Alliance continues transition to AWS cloud technology
Amazon Web Services (AWS), recently announced that Star Alliance, the world’s largest airline alliance, plans to move all of its IT infrastructure to AWS in order to reduce costs, enhance performance, and become a more agile company in the cloud.
Star Alliance is working with Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) – an AWS Partner Network Premier Consulting Partner – to migrate all of its data, platforms, and business-critical applications to AWS and close its data centers, which will reduce its infrastructure total cost of ownership by 25%.
The airline alliance is using AWS’s capabilities, including analytics, security, managed databases, storage, and machine learning, to provide its 26 member airlines with real-time insights that will help improve the global travel experience for their passengers, even with the uncertainty brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.
By migrating to AWS, Star Alliance has gained the agility to immediately optimise its existing infrastructure use and costs to meet the changing demands around worldwide air travel, especially in response to COVID-19. When quarantine orders and travel restrictions went into effect, the company instantly reduced its infrastructure footprint and spend by 30%, scaling down its use of AWS rather than paying for excess on-premises capacity.
By running on AWS, Star Alliance is setting itself up for the future when global travel restrictions begin to ease and customers resume flying regularly. The organisation is now able to introduce applications in half the time, leveraging Amazon Elastic Container Service with AWS Fargate (a serverless compute engine for containers that makes it easy to build applications) to power services that make travel easier and safer for passengers. For instance, Star Alliance created a baggage tracking application that uses Amazon Aurora (AWS’s relational database built for the cloud) to process data from multiple airline baggage systems, delivering operational dashboards and centralised reporting so that airline customer service agents can track bags at airports around the world. In addition, the “Star Alliance Inter Airline Through Check-in Hub” application – an application that processes and analyses more than 12 million transactions per month during peak periods and runs on AWS – makes the check-in process seamless for travellers by enabling passengers to check-in and receive boarding passes for multi-stop journeys across Star Alliance member airlines.
By becoming a data-driven organisation in the cloud, Star Alliance is using AWS analytics and databases, including Amazon Relational Database Service (Amazon RDS), Amazon Athena (AWS’s serverless, interactive query service that uses standard SQL), and Amazon QuickSight (AWS’s business intelligence service), to identify future travel demand and trends, as well as improve customer experiences. The Alliance’s Transfer Decision Tool helps its member airlines manage at-risk flight connections in real time so that they can take proactive action – such as fast-tracking a passenger through customs and immigration – to quickly transfer customers and their baggage to a connecting flight. This tool complements the Alliance’s new Connections Service (a mobile app that guides travellers with the fastest path to their departure gate and unlocks airport Fast Track lanes when connections are tight), providing a faster, contactless airport experience. In addition, by migrating its legacy databases to Amazon Aurora, Star Alliance is enabling its members’ customer service teams to make quick, informed decisions that help them process frequent flyer reward requests faster and take passenger preferences into account to provide personalised travel experiences. Moving forward, Star Alliance plans to create a data lake on Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3) that will centralise data access for member airlines to accelerate the development of enterprise applications and customer features. Star Alliance will then be able to apply AWS machine learning services, such as Amazon SageMaker (AWS’s service that enables data scientists and developers to build, train, and deploy machine learning models quickly), to the consolidated data to add value like preventing loyalty-related fraud across the members’ frequent flyer networks.
“We decided to go all-in on AWS to gain the reliability and scalability we needed to support the increasing number of global travellers joining the alliance each year, but the pandemic also proved how valuable it is to have a flexible and agile infrastructure in the cloud. No one could have predicted what has happened so far in 2020, but because of our collaboration with AWS, we were able to quickly adjust our goals and scale back our expenses,” said Star Alliance Head of Digital & Technology Jeremy Drury. “In addition to cost savings and elasticity, AWS gives us the most comprehensive set of cloud services to innovate rapidly, introduce new services to keep travellers safe, and continuously reinvent the global travel experience.”
“By going all-in on AWS, Star Alliance is leveraging the elasticity of the cloud to take advantage of industry trends and pivot their operations in order to respond to drastically changing market dynamics,” said Amazon Web Services Managing Director, Travel and Hospitality David Peller. “Star Alliance is a prime example of a global organisation that has successfully embraced the cloud to steer through times of uncertainty. As the world anticipates opening up again, we are excited to work with Star Alliance as they leverage AWS’s comprehensive suite of services to innovate new offerings at scale while raising the bar for what is possible for the next era of global air travel.”
“The global pandemic has reinforced the need for the travel industry to embrace new technologies that improve their operational resilience, business agility, and responsiveness to evolving customer needs and local regulations,” said TCS Head, Travel, Transportation and Hospitality, Europe Arun Pradeep. “Having accelerated Star Alliance’s IT transformation on AWS, we are now helping them maximise value by harnessing capabilities around advanced analytics and machine learning to deliver higher levels of personalisation and superior customer experiences.”