Airlines Need to Embrace the Cloud

Or System-Wide Outages will become the New Normal

From the premier IT infrastructure of to the cobbled infrastructures of major airlines, this year has been a watershed for system-wide outages. Why would we think that next year will be any different?

Digitalization pressures are escalating as customers and employees expect more convenience.  And IT teams are adding new layers of cobble to old ones in an effort to keep up.More Disruptions

A recent article in Bloomberg nails the issue:

The failure of Delta Air Lines Inc.’s worldwide computer network this week spotlights the vulnerability of the information systems sustaining the biggest U.S. carriers, each of which has contended with major disruptions during the last year.

Complex networks cobbled together over the decades need major overhauls requiring significant new investments, said Bob Edwards, a former chief information officer for United Continental Holdings Inc. Recent flaws in computer systems quickly escalated into corporate black eyes that exacted costs in both money and reputation.

“I don’t believe the flight ops, maintenance, passenger service systems, crew and dispatch applications are engineered with the level of redundancy needed,” Edwards, who retired in 2014 under pressure after several service disruptions at United, said by telephone. More disruptions are a near certainty: “Mistakes will happen, devices will malfunction.”

We took a disaster recovery best practices survey more than a year ago and it demonstrated how broken “IT as usual” has become under the pressures of digitalization.  IT pros didn’t have the time and/or resources to test their redundant systems in case there were failures, like those recently experienced by Southwest and Delta.

For more background read: DR is Broken but Don’t Blame IT.

The question becomes: Now that layers of cobbles are crumbling under the pressures of digitalization, what does IT do next? The answer (ironically) for the airline industry and others, is to embrace the cloud.

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