Sabre Holdings builds travel partner gateway with FuseSource

March 12, 2013

Business Challenge:

Handle a half-billion transactions per day, keep up with industry changes and business growth, and support SOA adoption


FuseSource products for integration with FuseSource consulting, training, and support subscription




Supplier migration without a hitch, no system failures, fast partner content deployment


Sabre Holdings has been connecting travel consumers to travel suppliers since the ‘60s, when they first deployed on a TPF mainframe. As their business has evolved, so did their technology. Most recently they were using a myriad of server-based integration platforms that process upwards of 32,000 transactions a second. To manage the projected growth, they knew they needed a new platform that could quickly integrate new content and rapidly scale without incurring large IT costs. Between the inflexibility and the costs of maintaining non-standard, proprietary infrastructures, the existing platforms had become a liability.

The CTO group, which had been moving to a services approach for over nine years, considered several commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) and several open source, service oriented architecture (SOA) solutions and quickly determined that open source technology offered major benefits. They saw significant advantages in having access to the source code, which meant that they no longer were at the mercy of a vendor whenever they needed to make a change—and without upfront licensing fees they stood to save millions. They quickly suspended all requests for proposals (RFPs) of COTS SOA solutions.

After evaluating analyst reports the team built a proof of concept using their existing Supplier Side Gateway application. Following extensive performance and stress testing, the team selected Fuse ESB®. Fuse ESB is the enterprise version of Apache ServiceMix supported by FuseSource. They brought Fuse ESB in-house and, liking what they saw, they then began working with other SOA tools in the FuseSource family of products including Fuse Message Broker® (based on ActiveMQ) and Fuse Mediation Router® (based on Camel).

The resulting Supplier Side Gateway integration platform was deployed in production in 2007, and all suppliers were migrated to the new platform ahead of plan. The project was declared a success, and enthusiasm from both the development teams and the CIO led to broader adoption of FuseSource products throughout the Sabre enterprise in 2008, and the applications are still in use today.

Business Challenge:

The first challenge was to build a system to demonstrate that the uncompromising requirements for stability and reliability could be met to support a growing business the size of Sabre. Slow service, downtime, or any lost or corrupted data directly affects the bottom line. Reliability and stability were paramount.

Flexibility was also a key issue. The travel industry is in constant flux due to competition, industry mandates and government regulations. The system had to support continuous change to promote an agile business. The first challenge was to build a system to demonstrate that the uncompromising requirements for stability and reliability could be met to support a growing business the size of Sabre. Slow service, downtime, or any lost or corrupted data directly affects the bottom line. Reliability and stability were paramount.

With so many partners and a dynamic business, Sabre needed to be able to insulate their infrastructure and applications from other systems. Sabre wanted to move all suppliers and agents to the new platform as soon as possible, but they knew that they could not impose any technology requirements on their partners. The platform needed to be able to connect to existing systems and had to be able to exchange data in any format.

Time to market was also a major consideration. Every minute Sabre waited to deploy resulted in costs incurred from maintaining the server-based solutions. And every minute Saber waited to release a new feature resulted in costs incurred from lost business.


The initial recommendation to use Fuse ESB came from the CTO group. The CTO group evaluates technology and makes strategic decisions about architecture, standards and products for the major business units within Sabre. As a part of their ongoing efforts to employ SOA practices, they recommended infrastructure with a common ESB and specifically recommended Fuse ESB.

The CTO group advised that the solution strictly adhere to industry standards and evaluated established standards as well as emerging standards like OSGi. They recommended a pluggable architecture for containers that host service producer and consumer components, allowing development teams to use their preferred solutions. Fuse ESB is standards-based from the ground up, supporting several standards from the APIs to the core of the product.

The Supplier Side Gateway application replaced their server-based integration platform with Fuse ESB in 2007. The Gateway was built on three FuseSource products: Fuse ESB, Fuse Message Broker and Fuse Mediation Router. They were able to migrate all suppliers—including hotels, airlines, and credit card companies—to the new platform in a matter of months and well ahead of the planned migration timeframe.

As Sabre engineers worked with Fuse ESB, they occasionally desired certain enhancements. Since Fuse ESB is open source, and, therefore, Sabre had access to the source code, they were able to make modifications to the code without having to wait for (or pay for) a vendor to release a patch. All changes to the source code were shared with FuseSource engineers, who, in turn, contributed the enhancements to the project code base at Apache.


The Supplier-Side Gateway was a success. The application was brought online, suppliers were migrated without a hitch, and after 14 months there has not been a single failure. The initial deployment handled over 1.5 million transactions a day. Sabre has the confidence that Fuse ESB will support their high transaction volumes as well as the projected annual growth.

Another benefit came from the flexibility of the system. Due to the standards-based, pluggable nature of Fuse ESB, Sabre is now able to deploy partner content more quickly through services-based, industry-standard connections. To further simplify integration and increase agility, content can now be orchestrated so information from multiple data sources is compiled into a single user request. Success with the Supplier-Side Gateway has led Sabre to certify Fuse ESB as its enterprise standard service bus. As many as seven application teams are currently in development using Fuse ESB. Now that the latest release supports REST-based services, Fuse ESB has even more applicability within the enterprise.

Why FuseSource

  • Extremely scalable—Sabre processes transactions from over 50,000 agencies worldwide, including over 1.4 billion transactions a day (peak of over 32,000 a second).
  • Significant cost savings—The lack of license fees and the ability to run on commodity hardware saved millions over their commercially licensed, server-based solution.
  • Enterprise QoS—Stability, scalability and security were critical, and FUSE proved to be reliable and suitable for mission-critical applications after 14 months of uninterrupted uptime.
  • No vendor lock-in—Fuse is completely open, giving developers full access to the source code.
  • Enterprise-class support—Responsive and knowledgeable support staff with a track record of making Global 2000 mission-critical applications successful and access to the people who wrote the code.

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