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Ryanair takes full flight in the AWS public cloud

Low-cost airline Ryanair is on course to go all-in on the Amazon Web Services public cloud, as part of its push to boost the agility and cost effectiveness of its operations

Budget airline Ryanair plans to use machine learning to improve the travel experience for its customers, as part of its commitment to go all-in on the Amazon Web Services (AWS) public cloud.

The move puts Ryanair on course to close the “vast majority” of its datacentres over the next three years, as it strives to rebuild and replace its legacy systems with Amazon’s database, analytics and machine learning technologies.

The company said switching out its Microsoft SQL database for Amazon’s relational database engine, Aurora, will strip significant costs out of delivering its email marketing campaigns to 22 million subscribers across Europe.

“We’ve chosen to work with the world’s leading cloud to develop and deliver services that will transform our customers’ travel experiences. By rebuilding core applications, converting data into actionable insights, and creating intelligent applications, we are putting the solutions in place to continue our leadership in the travel industry,” said Ryanair’s CTO, John Hurley.

The company already runs several core production workloads in the AWS cloud, including its corporate website and hotel comparison site, Ryanair Rooms.

Ryanair is also known to be a sizeable user of the AWS Simple Storage Service (S3), which houses a company-wide data lake that is subjected to real-time data analytics using the AWS Kinesis offering.

Now it plans to build on these deployments by digging deeper into the AWS machine learning portfolio to provide customers with more personalised experiences. As part of this, it is already in the throes of trialling Amazon’s chatbot technology, Lex.

“Machine learning is hugely important to our growth, and we’re pursuing a variety of AWS machine learning services, including Amazon SageMaker, to enhance customer UI experience and personalise the myRyanair portal for every unique traveller,” said Hurley.

“We’re currently trialling Amazon Lex to enhance our customer support experience, by intelligently routing customer support requests to the right type of assistance – whether that be a customer support representative or an artificial intelligence-driven interaction.”

The reason it wants to do more in the AWS cloud is to help the organisation as a whole become more agile and cost efficient, while allowing Ryanair to roll out its services globally, by drawing on the cloud provider’s growing datacentre footprint, the company added.

Mike Clayville, vice-president of worldwide commercial sales at AWS, said the company’s plans will see it follow in the footsteps of many other enterprises who are embracing cloud to boost their business agility.

“Because we have the most comprehensive set of cloud services, including our leading machine learning and deep learning services, Ryanair will be able to employ those services to drive greater customer and employee satisfaction. We’re excited to help them create first-class experiences on AWS as they continue to use our capabilities and services at an accelerated pace,” he added.

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