Cathay Pacific embraces cloud in digital transformation gig
By Edwin Yapp December 20, 2017
- Some 40% of workloads are already on the cloud with more to come
- Trialling machine learning for fraud detection along with other cloud features
WHILE cloud computing is considered by many to be the ‘new normal’ in today’s global business environment, few companies would fully embrace it as much as they can, save for those who firmly believe that the cloud can bring more benefit than harm.
One company that began with such thinking is Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd, which has committed some 40% – and even more workloads to come – of its IT infrastructure onto the Amazon Web Services (AWS) cloud platform in the last two years in a bid to gain stability, availability, reliability and efficiency.
The Hong Kong-based regional airline said its journey to the cloud began some two years ago, when it realised it was facing several major challenges to its ageing IT systems, which had directly affected its customer experience.
Cathay Pacific general manager for IT Lawrence Fong said the company had been suffering a backlash of complaints to do with everything from check-ins over the web and mobile, security incidents, to downtimes experienced by its IT systems.
“We had quite a lot of infrastructure issues due to our usage of old IT systems and legacy platforms,” Fong told a group of Asean-based media at the Amazon Web Services Inc’s re:Invent 2017 cloud conference last month.
“Security incidents were happening every day,” Fong candidly admitted. “Customers weren’t happy and our operations staff were equally unhappy. We needed to change, modernise our infrastructure and get into a digital future.”
Fong said when Cathay Pacific evaluated what needed to be done, it had a goal of future-proofing its IT system and making it sustainable and viable for at least the next decade.
Besides these criteria, the new system had to be able to embrace new technologies such as software-defined networking, web and mobile services, advanced data analytics, and software-as-a-service (SaaS) as part of its upgrade.
“The project was part of Cathay Pacific’s digital transformation programme, which we believe will help us gain a competitive advantage over competitors and that customers will be able to experience these changes too.”
Fong said the airline evaluated a number of cloud players besides AWS, including IBM Softlayer, Google Cloud Platform, Microsoft Azure and Alibaba Cloud.
After much consideration and many trials, Fong said the airline selected AWS as its primary cloud vendor due to its widest product offering, price, and innovation it can bring to Cathay Pacific.
Fong revealed that there were some apps still running IBM Softlayer, which the airline will migrate away from in time to come. It also had some apps on Microsoft and Alibaba Cloud but none on Google Cloud.
Pressed further on why AWS was chosen, Fong said AWS was the leader in the cloud game at the time it made its evaluation and had helped the airline go through its digital transformation. He did not however rule out working with other cloud players in the future, noting that that it “would evaluate accordingly” as to what other providers can do in due course.
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