Travel agency STA Travel is moving most of its IT infrastructure into a managed, outsourced datacentre. The infrastructure migration is part of STA's efforts to combat the high IT complexity and cost that had crept into the organisation over the past decade.
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Ross Milburn, head of operations at STA Travel, said the company is currently supported by a combination of Linux, Unix and Microsoft IIS servers, with each division across the world having chosen its own IT system.
The company, which has offices in 90 countries, competes with web-based travel agents and, for competitive reasons, wanted to revamp and standardise its web operations.
STA Travel has signed a six-year, £6m deal with managed service provider Savvis to consolidate and centralise its IT infrastructure at Savvis' datacentre near Reading.
The first phase of the project, worth £1.2m, is to move all of the hardware that supports the regional websites into Savvis' hosted datacentre. This began at the end of 2005 and will be completed by the end of this year.
In December, STA Travel migrated its UK, US, Australian and web systems, and it went live with Canada last week. Other English-speaking markets will follow this summer, and the rest of the globe by the end of the year.
As well as the systems that support the website, STA Travel is planning to migrate its finance system, Reddot web content management system, and sales incentive system.
"The consolidation will allow us to reduce our computing and storage resources. Outsourcing our critical IT infrastructure will enable us to manage peaks in consumer demand more effectively and allow us to focus on our core business," said Milburn.
To mitigate the risk of downtime during the migration, STA Travel is moving one division at a time to the Reading datacentre.
"We are making sure we are not removing the functionality and tools and technology that staff have available. The only downtime we have had is when we migrated a global system - a big bang - two years ago," said Milburn. "I am keen not to repeat the experience."