EasyJet has used the Microsoft cloud to de-risk its trial of allocated seating.
The Azure cloud has enabled the budget airline to enable website users to check seating without the need to slow down the core airline reservation system.
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EasyJet’s recent move to offer passengers the ability to pre-book seats on their flights would have been impossible and too much of a business risk for the budget airline, had it not being for the Microsoft Azure Cloud.
Bert Craven, EasyJet’s enterprise architect, said: “Our homegrown reservation system did not have the ability to allocate seats. Selling 58 million seats a year is quite a job. Keeping track of every single seat on all our aircraft is exponentially more complex. Reverse-engineering seat allocation into a reservation system that is filling nine to 10 planes a minute is a very difficult thing to do.”
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EasyJet is one of Microsoft’s flagship references for its Azure cloud service. The airline has used the Azure cloud to build new services that communicate wirelessly at airports without having to incur major airport charges for new service desks. Azure provides the link from the internet into the EasyJet datacentre.
He said Azure handles all the heavy lifting to handle the millions of requests coming in from people accessing the EasyJet website or mobile site, to see a map of the aircraft and which seats are available.
“We take all of this and put it in the cloud,” said Craven.
The customer interacts with the Azure applications. Once the customer has finished the Azure application, he said, “We just take the few bytes of data, representing which seats they actually chose and install those into the reservation system.”
Craven added that by segregating seat allocation from reservation, and using a scalable and resilient platform in the cloud: “We were able to deliver seat reservation to the business very quickly and cheaply.”
It also lessened the risk of moving fully to a seat allocation system.
He added: “We delivered it as pilot and presented as a trial of allocated seating. If it had been a disaster or hadn’t improved customer satisfaction, there would have been a temptation by the business to turn it off. It is much easier to turn off a cloud solution that to have to tear out all the functionality from the reservation system.”