Red Hat Delivers Unmatched Performance and Reduced Costs for Sabre Holdings, Travelocity

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August 18, 2008

Customer: Sabre Holdings Corporation

Industry: Services
Geography: North America
Country: United States


Business Challenge:

To increase performance, reduce costs, and expand scalability for a mission-critical, rapidly evolving IT architecture requiring 100 percent uptime

Migration Path:

Unix to Red Hat Enterprise Linux

Software:

Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5

Hardware:

HPx86 and Intel

Benefits:

Achieved system reliability, 90 percent cost savings, 3x performance gains, and unmatched scalability, while standardizing its IT infrastructure on Red Hat Enterprise Linux

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Background:

Sabre Holdings is a privately held world leader in the travel marketplace that is owned by Silver Lake and TPG. It merchandises and retails travel products and provides distribution and technology solutions for the travel industry. Headquartered in Southlake, Texas, the company maintains approximately 9,000 employees located across 59 countries. In 2006, Sabre Holdings earned $2.8 billion in revenue as it supported travellers, travel agents, corporations, and travel suppliers around the world through its three companies: Travelocity, the most popular online travel service offering consumer-direct services for the leisure and business traveller; Sabre Travel Network, responsible for marketing and distributing travel-related products and services through its travel agency and corporate channels; and Sabre Airline Solutions, the worldand#x2019;s largest provider of software products with over 200 airlines relying on its passenger solutions and consulting services. The first automated passenger reservation system offered by Sabre Holdings was installed in 1960 and marked a dramatic technological leap forward for the airline industry. Since then, Sabre Holdings has pioneered technological advances for the industry in areas such as revenue management, pricing, flight scheduling, cargo, flight operations, and crew scheduling.

Business Challenge:

For years, Sabre Holdings utlized proprietary solutions to support its advanced IT architecture. Internet-based travel bookings were gaining rapid acceptance among a growing segment of customers and travellers demanding more services and better options were driving up costs for the worldwide travel leader. To capitalize on its enormous growth opportunity, the company needed an infrastructure that was faster, cheaper and more scalable. Looking to increase performance and reduce technology costs associated with proprietary solutions, Sabre Holdings decided to investigate open source alternatives to help it face the relentless conditions of a fast-moving, challenging travel industry.

“While operating the largest travel distribution service in the world that processes tens of thousands of transactions per second, it’s always a peak business hour somewhere and we need to be available 24×7,” said Robert Wiseman, chief technology officer at Sabre Holdings. “This creates heavy demands on our IT infrastructure and presents challenges, but with Red Hat we are able to build stronger and smarter systems with our global customers in mind.”

Solution:

Enabling more than 32,000 transactions per second, Sabre Holdings’ IT infrastructure demanded 100 percent uptime. If its systems were to experience downtime, the result would be disastrous with planes grounded, passengers stranded, and trips unable to be booked.

To improve the stability, performance, and cost-effectiveness of its IT infrastructure and to ensure reliability for its own customers, Sabre Holdings turned to open source solutions. It evaluated the leading Linux offerings on the market, but ultimately chose Red Hat for its established market leadership and renowned support offerings. With Red Hat, Sabre Holdings also discovered the power of the developer community that could provide reliable, consistent updates and fixes that could be incorporated in realtime.

“We selected the IT solution that would allow us to run our business most effectively. Our customers use our services for the content, speed, price, and presentation, not for the operating system our business runs on,” said Josh Hartman, chief technology officer at Travelocity. “Red Hat provides a proficient and effervescent experience for our customers, who don’t even realize that Red Hat is there. And that’s the way it should be.”

With millions of online customers completing tens of thousands of transactions per second, Sabre Holdings has deployed Red Hat Enterprise Linux on thousands of HP x86-based servers and it continues to expand its use of Red Hat solutions today.

“Red Hat Enterprise Linux is our corporate standard – as we purchase hardware and build systems, they are required to work seamlessly with Red Hat Enterprise Linux,” said Wiseman. “Our systems now perform three times faster while costing 90 percent less when compared side-by-side to other providers.”

When Sabre Holdings recently acquired lastminute.com, a leader in European online travel, its IT system included over 1,000 servers running numerous free open source operating systems that required significant time and resources to operate and maintain. Today, Sabre Holdings is in the process of migrating all of lastminute.com’s servers to its corporate standard, Red Hat Enterpise Linux 5.

Benefits:

Since migrating to Red Hat Enterprise Linux, Sabre Holdings has benefited from system reliability, cost savings, increased performance, and scalability.

Red Hat Enterprise Linux has enabled Sabre Holdings to standardize its IT architecture, consisting of thousands of systems worldwide, across all three of its companies’ IT infrastructures. “Red Hat has allowed us to horizontally scale our systems with the ability to drive thousands of transactions per second, 24×7, 365 days a year,” said Hartman. “Red Hat is the leader in the marketplace and offers the performance and stability to drive our high-transaction business at a high economic value.” In addition to the performance improvements and cost savings realized since migrating to Red Hat Enterprise Linux, Sabre Holdings also further strengthened its position as an innovative technology leader and employer. Working with open source technology partners has allowed Sabre Holdings to recruit and retain the best talent.

“Our team at Sabre Holdings is unparalleled in the industry, we are the leading travel services provider and our use of open source software attracts IT leaders to our company,” Wiseman said. From building the first computer reservation system in the 1960s, to blazing the trail for online travel in the 1990s, to delivering the sophisticated, cutting-edge travel solutions of today, Sabre Holdings has made innovation its business. “With decades of experience in the travel service industry, we built a culture of uptime and reliable performance. Standardizing on Red Hat Enterprise Linux has allowed us to focus on our core business competencies,” said Wiseman.

“Sabre Holdings relies on Red Hat as our corporate standard operating system for our mission-critical IT infrastructure.” As it continues to evolve its IT architecture, Sabre Holdings plans to incorporate additional Red Hat solutions and is currently assessing Red Hat integrated virtualization technology. “We are beginning to take a close look at Red Hat’s virtualization capabilities and have been impressed with its recent virtualization management technology development. We’re also interested in flexible deployments of Red Hat on Amazon’s elastic cloud,” said Wiseman. “We value Red Hat as a long-term partner in our development of Sabre Holdings’ corporate IT goals because of the visionary, leadership role Red Hat plays in the open source community.”

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