Star Alliance goes all-in and airborne with AWS, backed by TCS

Global airline alliance closes data centre operations to reduce infrastructure total cost of ownership by 25 per cent

Star Alliance has unveiled plans to migrate all IT infrastructure to Amazon Web Services (AWS), leveraging partner expertise from Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) amid plans to “reduce costs and enhance performance”.

The world's largest global airline alliance is currently in the process of migrating all data, platforms and business-critical applications to AWS, in addition to closing data centre operations to reduce infrastructure total cost of ownership by 25 per cent.

Motivated by a desire to become more agile as an organisation, the 26-member alliance is leveraging key technologies such as analytics, security, managed databases, storage and machine learning, with the aim of providing real-time insights to enhance travel experience post-pandemic. Star Alliance members include Singapore Airlines, Air New Zealand and Thai Airways, alongside Air China, Air India and Asiana Airlines among others.

“We decided to go all-in on AWS to gain the reliability and scalability we needed to support the increasing number of global travellers joining the alliance each year, but the pandemic also proved how valuable it is to have a flexible and agile infrastructure in the cloud,” said Jeremy Drury, head of Digital and Technology at Star Alliance.

“No one could have predicted what happened in 2020 but because of our collaboration with AWS, we were able to quickly adjust our goals and scale back our expenses. In addition to cost savings and elasticity, AWS gives us the most comprehensive set of cloud services to innovate rapidly, introduce new services to keep travelers safe, and continuously reinvent the global travel experience.”

Through migrating to AWS - supported by TCS as an AWS Partner Network Premier Consulting Partner - Star Alliance reduced infrastructure footprint and spend by 30 per cent in response to a global rise in quarantine orders and travel restrictions during the early phase of the pandemic, scaling down cloud use “rather than paying for excess on-premises capacity”.

From a technology standpoint, the business is accelerating application deployments via Amazon Elastic Container Service with AWS Fargate, which operates as a serverless compute engine for containers.

For example, a baggage tracking application using Amazon Aurora - AWS’s relational cloud-based database - was built to process data from multiple airline baggage systems, delivering operational dashboards and centralised reporting capable of allowing airline customer service agents to track bags at airports around the world.

“By going all-in on AWS, Star Alliance is leveraging the elasticity of the cloud to take advantage of industry trends and pivot their operations in order to respond to drastically changing market dynamics,” added David Peller, managing director of Travel and Hospitality at AWS.

“Star Alliance is a prime example of a global organisation that has successfully embraced the cloud to steer through times of uncertainty. As the world anticipates opening up again, we are excited to work with Star Alliance as they leverage AWS’ comprehensive suite of services to innovate new offerings at scale while raising the bar for what is possible for the next era of global air travel.”

Delving deeper, Star Alliance has also rolled out AWS analytics and databases, including Amazon Relational Database Service (RDS), Amazon Athena and Amazon QuickSight to identify future travel demand and trends while enhancing customer experience levels.

“The global pandemic has reinforced the need for the travel industry to embrace new technologies that improve their operational resilience, business agility, and responsiveness to evolving customer needs and local regulations,” said Arun Pradeep, head of Travel, Transportation and Hospitality at TCS.

“Having accelerated Star Alliance’s IT transformation on AWS, we are now helping them maximise value by harnessing capabilities around advanced analytics and machine learning to deliver higher levels of personalisation and superior customer experiences.”

Going forward, Star Alliance plans to create a data lake on Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3) to centralise data access for member airlines in a move designed to accelerate the development of enterprise applications and customer features.