Case study: In-flight caterer modernises IT for efficiency during seasonal travel peaks

Alpha LSG has launched a £10m IT transformation project and will host its IT on the cloud for scalability during travel peaks

As part of a £10m IT transformation project to modernise its systems and infrastructure, UK in-flight caterer Alpha LSG selected Getronics to host its IT on a cloud platform for scalability during peak travel season.

Alpha LSG serves 16 UK airports and provides catering, in-flight retail and logistics services to more than 75 airline customers, including Thomas Cook, Monarch Airlines and Thomson (part of TUI Travel PLC).

Alpha LSG was formed in October 2012 after a joint venture between air travel service provider Dnata’s Alpha Flight Group and LSG Sky Chefs Europe.

With a combined revenue of over £300m, and with about 3,600 employees, the IT team of the newly formed company were left with a distributed IT infrastructure. But the challenges of distributive IT could be traced back to 2010 when Alpha Flight Group was acquired by Dnata.

“Since the Dnata acquisition in 2010, we have been working with distributed legacy IT systems that were constraining productivity, creating inefficiencies and additional cost, while limiting innovation and development,” says Charlie Goakes, IT director at Alpha LSG.

Driving efficiency, flexibility and innovation

The IT team was keen to modernise its datacentre systems with an efficient infrastructure, and also wanted to improve desktop management and workspace efficiency, increase flexibility and build scope for future innovation and upgrades.

As a travel business, the company also needed scalable IT with the ability to handle the seasonal peaks and troughs of the travel calendar. The IT team identified a transition to a cloud-based platform as the best solution for its specific technology needs – scalability, agility and high availability at peak times.

Alpha LSG chose cloud service provider Getronics after a tendering process because of the latter’s experience in providing IT services to enterprises in the travel and transport sector. The IT team worked with Getronics to create a tailored solution for its specific IT needs.

Alpha LSG’s IT and Getronics had to migrate the IT infrastructure to the cloud in just three months, to maintain stability and minimise any negative impact on business operations. The modernisation project was completed in January, giving the IT department time to plan and train staff ahead of the peak holiday travel season.

The ambitious migration project included moving all business data, business applications and employees to a cloud service model. Hosting business applications on a cloud platform will ensure 24x7 availability, according to the IT team.

The IT modernisation project also included replacing more than 500 desktops with thin client devices and virtual desktops to enable mobile working, as well as installing a new dual-provision WAN infrastructure in each of Alpha LSG’s 27 sites to improve network traffic flow.

Cloud-powered business benefits

By implementing a cloud-based system, the airline caterer is able to manage costs by moving to an on-demand model and paying only for the infrastructure and services it needs.

The ability to scale up to tackle seasonal peaks leads to significant efficiencies as infrastructure is not lying dormant for many months of the year, the IT team said. Additionally, the cloud model helps it overcome licensing issues – enabling the business to access the most up-to-date versions of business-critical software without having to manage upgrades in-house.

In the competitive travel sector an “always-on approach” is fundamental to business success. The cloud IT model enables its employees to access company applications from anywhere and at any time, giving the business maximum flexibility, says Goakes.

Cloud also optimises business processes and improves business continuity and disaster recovery, ensuring that Alpha LSG minimises downtime to offer mission-critical services to customers 24x7.

“Through working with Getronics, we have integrated all our systems on to a single cloud platform, dramatically increasing efficiency and giving us the flexibility we need to compete in a constantly evolving and competitive marketplace,” says Goakes.

Getronics chief executive Mark Cook says: “Business agility is crucial in the travel market, with companies required to flex to meet evolving customer demands over the course of the year.”

As for the move from traditional desktop infrastructure to thin client-based technology onsite, it has helped the company save around £50,000 per annum on power costs, based on savings since implementation in January.

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