Amadeus CEO talks cloud, data centres and open source

Amadeus CEO talks cloud, data centres and open source

Travel-tech company tells why all IT remains in-house

CEO of travel industry transaction processing company Amadeus, David V Jones, has outlined the company’s gradual move to the cloud and discussed why open source software will be used across all areas of the business by 2012.

Jones addressed a group of journalists during a briefing in Sydney this week and said the company, which recently completed an IPO, owes much of its success to managing a data centre in-house.

“We have a common data centre in Germany. It was a conscious decision we made ten years ago to not outsource our data centre and that has been a critical part of the evolution of our business,” Jones said.

According to Jones, an increased investment in R&D has been another reason for the company’s success.

“We want to keep our distribution business growing and we know we have a strong company in airline IT. We are a technology company and as a technology company we have to focus on preserving and growing our leadership. Operations excellence is the absolute foundation on which everything else is built. We must never let other interesting and exciting things take away our core focus and operational excellence.”

“Every year we grew our investment in R&D. Our privacy equity firm understood our approach to the business and were happy we continued to grow our R&D spend during 2008 and 2009. We have spent €1.5 billion on it in the past five years,” he said.

The company plans to move all systems to Unix or Linux by 2012, with Jones describing how the move from legacy to open source software has allowed Amadeus to maintain a lower return on investment.

“The transaction processing facility is the operating system of all global distribution systems and we took a decision and had to move off of that legacy platform and into Unix open systems and then into Linux.”

“It’s important to us and our customers with the return on investment being lower with open source,” Jones said.

Jones said cloud computing is next on the agenda for Amadeus, with most systems set to be migrated within a three year time frame.

“Cloud computing is a sort of a buzz word and it’s a matter of how it evolves and handles your business processing.”

“The move towards cloud is about increasingly the flexibility you have with the transactions with a number of computers. Cloud is about the entity doing the processing having the perfect flexibility of processing. We’re three-quarters of the way there. We have a lot of flexibility but we don’t have the real-time processing ability,” he said.

With an estimated €7.8 billion market value, Amadeus has placed a large emphasis on in-house development.

“Our software developers and creators are Amadeus employees and so they work to the same bottom line. When we’re planning on moving legacy code onto open source, our development and operational teams work together. The operational people work with how the operating system is designed and then implemented. We have common teams.”

“Contrast that with a situation where people responsible for our operating systems work for another company. Inevitably you’re going to get into a discussion about budgets, you would need to have the technical people and financial advisers and it can only get more complicated. As a technology company I can’t see the sense in outsourcing part of our technology development,” Jones said.

Jones also announced his plans to retire from the role of CEO at the end of the year with deputy CEO of Amadeus, Luis Maroto, set to commence the role at the start of 2011.

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Tags outsourcingcloud computingopen sourceLinuxdata centresunixR&DairlinesIT outsourcingair travelGlobal Financial Crisis (GFC)in-houseAmadeus

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