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Gulf Air creates private cloud to support open-source big data engine

Airline is using a private cloud and open-source software to enable it to analyse social media and understand what consumers think about it

Gulf Air has created a private cloud to support a big data engine that will enable it to monitor consumer sentiment about the airline on social media.

Bahrain’s national carrier is using Red Hat Enterprise Linux, Red Hat JBoss Enterprise Application Platform, and Red Hat Storage as a platform for its Arabic Sentiment Analysis system, which monitors people’s comments through their social media posts.

It processes the posts and provides reports on what customers are saying about Gulf Air.

The open-source software meant no licence fees as the airline was able to run it on its existing infrastructure.

Gulf Air, which has 28 aircraft serving 39 cities in 22 countries, has developed a sentiment analysis engine using big data technologies that can address social media posts in both Arabic and English. It is based on an open-source Hadoop big data framework running across servers in Gulf Air’s private cloud environment.

The private cloud encompasses 200 servers running more than 100 core applications and holds more than 50 terabytes of data.

Gulf Air’s IT team also uses this as the basis for a wider analysis of the state of the market and actions taken by the carrier’s competitors.

Read more about enterprise IT in the Middle East

  • Gulf Air, the national carrier of Bahrain, is betting big on the notion that mobility can solve the problems associated with its manual business processes – and cut costs.
  • One of the world’s biggest oil producers has announced a $2tn war chest to fund an economic diversification strategy, with IT set to be a beneficiary.
  • Mobility projects will be the most common IT initiative among Middle East organisations this year, according to research from Computer Weekly.

Jassim Haji, director of IT at Gulf Air, said understanding customer sentiment is an important business tool today.

“We want to know who is satisfied with Gulf Air’s service, who is not and why, and what Gulf Air can do to improve its services to passengers,” he said.

“The big data solution deployed is an open-source one, which meant no special licence fees to pay, while the infrastructure where it runs is based on our existing open-source-based cloud environment and virtual servers, which meant no hardware investment was required.”

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