Based in Luton, England, easyJet is the largest airline in the United Kingdom and the fourth-largest carrier in Europe. It operates 685 routes and sells 61 million tickets annually. Building on its reputation for providing great service at low cost, the airline wanted to improve the customer experience without adding staff or IT infrastructure.
Offering new features, including the ability for customers to choose their own seats, was a top priority. However, easyJet faced several challenges in implementing a new solution. The airline outsourced its IT infrastructure, and operated with a lean team of IT professionals. It needed a delivery platform that would be affordable, easy to manage, and highly scalable. Initially, the airline looked at deploying a seat allocation solution on the same on-premises platform that it used for its reservation system. However, it discarded the idea when it realized that building a new, high-availability infrastructure across two data centers would be too costly and time-consuming, with too many uncertainties about scalability and workload.
In 2010, easyJet had used Azure Service Bus to make its business applications accessible to mobile customer service agents. Inspired by the project’s success, the airline decided to use the Microsoft Azure platform and its platform-as-a-service offerings to enhance its reservation system. “We knew we could build an affordable solution quickly on Azure,” says Bert Craven, Enterprise Architect at easyJet. “If we developed a workable application, we realized we could have an enterprise-scale version running immediately with minimal investment.”
Using the Visual Studio 2010 development system, the company created and tested code that ran in simulated production environments on Azure. easyJet launched its new cloud-based services in April 2012 on five routes and finished implementation eight months later. The solution includes the existing reservation system that runs on-premises and the seating allocation service that runs on Azure.
Customers experience a seamless reservation process with the hybrid cloud booking solution, including finding flights, choosing seats, and purchasing tickets. The airline also offers a Windows 8 app for mobile devices. Hosted on Azure, the FlightTracker app provides real-time flight information.
The airline plans to connect Microsoft Azure Active Directory with the airline’s on-premises Active Directory Domain Services. easyJet also manages its on-premises infrastructure with System Center 2012 and anticipates extending the solution to Azure as well. “The key benefit to Microsoft Azure is that you can get more value out of your on-premises investment,” explains Craven. “We’ve spent years building our reservation system, and we can extend it by adding new features in the cloud.”
- Gains more flexible, extensible infrastructure
- Increases scalability
- Speeds time-to-market
- Cuts deployment costs and simplifies management
- Improves customer satisfaction