Monday, August 1, 2011


Neelam Mathews

There is little left to the imagination these days. The new buzz? It’s cloud computing. The good part is that it is real, and starting to deliver what is claims, as delegates to the 13th SITA Air Transport IT Summit in Brussels learnt.

Malaysia Airlines has become the first carrier to introduce a successful pilot of SITA Desktop-as-a-Service, the first of its air transport community cloud computing services. The airline is now considering shifting its major business to cloud, says Munir Majid,  former chairman of Malaysia Airlines.

Air transport industry IT specialist, SITA and Orange Business Services- global integrated communications service provider for businesses- agreed in late June to jointly build a global, high performance, managed cloud computing infrastructure. Each partner will use this infrastructure to deliver their cloud services portfolio to their markets. 

With the concept not as yet tried and tested, MAS wish list includes flexibility and agility in supporting business needs of network expansion and mobile workforce, improved quality of service and data protection. MAS also says a streamlined support model will be essential.

The term cloud computing probably comes from (at least partly) the use of a cloud image to represent the Internet or some large networked environment. To put it simply, instead of there being data pipes, routers and servers, there are now services. Local computers no longer have to do all the heavy lifting when it comes to running  applications.

For the air transport industry, it represents a unique opportunity to break free from the shackles of legacy technology and embrace the benefits of high-speed, high-capacity computing power.

“Cloud is becoming a reality as 93% of airlines plan to use Cloud services by 2014 (Airline IT Trends Survey 2011),” says  Francesco Violante CEO, SITA.

Advantages to the industry include fast deployment of IT  services to a new/seasonal airport destination,  instant creation of desktop “in the cloud”, pilots' local access to Electronic Flight Bag information,  mobile workforce access to up-to-date job content and  virtualization of the remote office infrastructure.
The journey will not be without challenges. “Re-designing of existing network  architecture, instability of bandwidth connectivity to the internet for mobile and home workers, level of acceptance by employees on the new system and accessing software vendors on demand will need to be initially addressed, says Abdul Mutalib Ishak, Vice President Retail Business & Distribution, Malaysia Airlines.

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