How a Data-Intensive Travel Business Benefits from Cloud Adoption
With much of the world opening up again in 2022, many of us jumped online to start searching for flights. As the travel industry struggles to catch up with demand, it is big data—but not necessarily big companies—helping travelers get the information they need. ATPCO is a leading technology provider of shopping and pricing data to airlines, travel, and distribution companies. While not a big company, this team of about 500 employees represents 400 airlines around the world. Based in Virginia, U.S., ATPCO is creating value for airlines and travelers by blending reliable d ata with technological innovations. ATPCO worked with Amazon Web Services to build a platform designed to support the varied needs of its customers. I talked with President and CEO, Alex Zoghlin, about how cloud innovation is providing ways for small and medium businesses to quickly process massive amounts of data and rapidly scale to meet customer demands.
Solving business challenges with cloud
Q: Alex, ATPCO has an incredibly data-intensive business. Can you describe what you do and some of the challenges of serving the airline industry?
A: We are really the foundation for how all the flight information gets to distribution points worldwide. We have a database of more than 300 million fares at any given day, and we distribute it to every place that you could think to find airfare information.
There are two really challenging aspects in the airline industry. The first is because we have over 400 airlines on our system, they’re all on a different journey. There are many airlines that are very happy with how we do it today, and they’re not really looking to increase sophistication. While we have others at the other end that are champing at the bit and are building bespoke, customized, one-off solutions. For us, it’s finding how we make it all work for everybody, from the smallest airline that has two flights a day to the most complex global carrier that wants to dynamically adjust and create prices on the fly.
Q: How did ATPCO scale its operations to support customer needs?
A: We realized that the computational power and data necessary for us to go from static fares and rules to dynamic, customized offers is going to require a level of computation and data that just was not possible in any data center. With the problems that we were trying to solve, it became obvious that cloud computing was the only way for us to get it done. We then needed to decide who would be the provider that we do it with.
Selecting a cloud provider for long-term small and medium business innovation
Q: Once you determined the cloud could help you achieve your business goals, how did you choose AWS?
A: There are three key reasons why AWS is the perfect provider for us. The first is that we are aligned philosophically with how AWS thinks of the infrastructure in cloud computing really as a platform. The platform becomes a service to all our developers and to all our airline partners so that they don’t really have to think about infrastructure. And we can continue to add services to it like security and other pieces so that our software developers are focused not on infrastructure, not on networking, but on actually creating features and functionality that drive our industry.
The second reason is that we have found AWS to be in this for the win for us, for the long haul, not just for the short dollar. And that’s greatly appreciated.
Third, we are a global company; we have global customers. We needed a cloud provider that was in the places in which we work. When you put all those things together, AWS became the obvious partner for us.
Freeing up resources and faster deployment with the cloud
Q: How did being freed from physical infrastructure allow ATPCO to speed up test and deployment of new services?
A: In the old days, step one was to get the physical infrastructure up before you could do anything. Now, instead of committing to buying the hardware, you can try it online first. You can try it in an AWS data center. You can do a trial and gather feedback before you could even get the hardware configured properly in the traditional model. It means developers can spend more time on building features and functions, testing and building proofs of concept, to get customer feedback in less time.
We’re in a position now where we’re really clear on what the future looks like, but the path to get there isn’t clear. What AWS provides for us is an abstraction of all that complexity of infrastructure so that we literally start day one with the ideas rather than hardware.
The airline industry is evolving quickly, and ATPCO needed to be able to help customers achieve their goals. Cloud innovation provided a way to not only scale to support demand, but also free up resources to innovate faster. Learn more about how a cloud migration can help small and medium travel and hospitality businesses reliably scale.
Disclaimer: The content and opinions in this post are those of the third-party author and AWS is not responsible for the content or accuracy of this post.