Cloud computing will be a dominating topic for airlines in the upcoming months. Why’s that? Because Corona showed that times of on-premise solutions are finally over. I’d even say that airlines that focused on the cloud earlier navigated through the Coronacrisis much swifter — at least from an IT perspective.

Of course, cloud computing is no new trend. However, many airlines still rely on their own data centers. On top of that, lots of airlines have been quite resistant to the cloud-computing idea.

CLOUD COMPUTING AT AIRLINES — MY EXPERIENCE

An example: When discussing the implementation of our products, probably 80% of airlines were asking if an on-premise setup is possible. And by the way, since all of our products are running in the cloud, this a requirement we always reject.

Nonetheless, the example shows that airlines have been quite conservative when it comes to cloud computing. Of course, many of them are using Office365 or Confluence products for example. However, when it comes to airline-specific systems, airlines are quite reluctant to move to the cloud.

The reason mentioned most often is about security issues. Even though many cloud solutions are more secure than airline data centers, there’s always the concern of transferring data to an unknown —and uncontrollable— place. And this undoubtedly is an aspect that needs to be addressed and discussed when moving to the cloud.

Nevertheless, the current pandemic situation, with its immense impact on airlines impressively, exposed the flipside of on-premise solutions. And this is going to continue during the next months and years tremendously.

That’s why I am genuinely convinced that airlines have to move the cloud immediately — at least for a considerable portion of their systems.

HERE ARE THE FIVE REASONS WHY AIRLINES HAVE TO FOCUS ON CLOUD COMPUTING NOW!

Flexibility

One of the most prominent and essential advantages of cloud-based services lies in flexibility. Depending on the solution, an airline can easily and swiftly reduce services, functions, disk space, etc.

Or in other words: Cloud computing transforms fixed costs into variable costs. And I can tell, one of the sentences I heard so often during the last months is “fixed costs are killing us.”

And of course, this is a straightforward calculation. Even in times of a complete operations shutdown, the costs for own data centers, servers, networks, storage, etc. kept counting. Whereas airlines that rely on cloud-based solutions could —quite often— quickly reduce services or entirely stop the usage of specific systems. Thereby, an immediate and enormous cost-cutting was possible.

Moreover, flexibility will continue to be extremely essential during the next months and probably years. A cloud-based solution perfectly adapts to a restarting process that step-by-step needs more services, functions, and storage. And in case a second wave hits the world, or partial lockdowns impact the operations, an airline can respond accordingly.

I am profoundly convinced that we are facing a super-dynamic future, with ups and downs. Therefore, the advantages in terms of flexibility cloud computing have just gotten even more important.

Scalability

Scalability is kind of similar to the first aspect but more hardware-focused. Many airlines massively reduced their operations. Parked aircraft and flight schedules reduced to the minimum are standard.

Currently, no one knows how long it takes to get back to operations comparable to pre-COVID times. Most airlines calculate with 3-5 years. However, there’s uncertainty.

What does that mean for IT? In the first step, fewer operations result in less computing power, less server, less bandwidth, and so on. And all of these factors are then slowly increasing again — dynamic and hard to foresee.

Again the advantage of cloud-computing perfectly fits that scenario. Simply because all the resources you need can adjust to your current situation. Reduced to a minimum during shutdown and slowly adding more resources when restarting operations. All super-dynamic and scalable.

Compared to the fixed cost of on-premise solutions, cloud solutions will contribute extremely positively to an airline’s bottom line.

Cost Reduction

Airlines —unfortunately— face probably the most-challenging time ever. One topic that is number one for many airlines now is about cost reduction and cost-cutting.

We all heard the news of expenditure freezes, staff reduction, etc. However, getting rid (or minimizing) their data center reflects a compelling measure too.

Even without the advantages of flexibility and scalability, cloud-based solutions are cheaper. And that is quite obvious. You don’t have to pay for the infrastructure or a dedicated location. There’s no need to invest in things like security and compliance specifically.

On average, companies report about a 16% cost reduction in operational costs and 16% in IT maintenance costs.

Airline Cloud Computing

Therefore, from my perspective, when talking about cost reductions, a cloud transformation should be priority number #1.

Mobility

With reasons 1-3, I focused on financial and operational aspects. Nevertheless, I do believe that cloud computing and cloud-based solutions. Besides the crucial economic and functional aspects, the advantages cloud-approaches hold are even more diverse.

Undoubtedly, Corona accelerated the change in how we work. The home office is no longer an exception. On the contrary, decentralized working modes and remote work have become standard quickly.

Many airlines that rely on on-premise solutions struggled heavily with that situation. I heard dozens of stories where colleagues from airlines couldn’t work because they could not access the respective systems from home.

Cloud computing and cloud-based solutions on the other side are tailored to mobility and mobile work. Working from home, or actually from wherever you want, isn’t any problem at all.

Therefore, I think relying on cloud-based solutions will massively ease our future way of working. Whereas modifying on-premise solutions and data centers will lead to immense costs.

Sustainability

Even in pre-COVID times, airlines started to treat sustainability seriously. I think Corona is also accelerating this development. We’ve also seen that some governments linked their aid to the execution of specific environmental and sustainable actions.

Now, I do know that data centers only account for a tiny amount of an airline’s energy consumption. And quite logically, airlines first and foremost are focusing on aircraft fuel consumption. However, cloud migration clearly has an impact on a company’s energy consumption. Research even shows that moving to the cloud can result in a 30% energy reduction.

Cloud Computing At Airlines — What Are Your Experiences?

Always happy to receive your input on topics. So make sure to send me an email or hit me up on Twitter.


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Benjamin is an information-enthusiast, a content-maniac, and CEO of Information Design (in this order). His daily business revolves around pioneering solutions with the aim to change the way companies use information. His visions are based on expertise gained in more than 15 years in the industry, and working with renowned companies all over the globe.