Every minute of every day, millions of travelers use advanced Sabre technology to make billions of connections. Sabre powers mobile apps, airport check-in kiosks, online travel sites, airline and hotel reservation networks, travel agent terminals, aircraft and crew scheduling systems, and many more travel industry functions. Our systems have served as the technology backbone for the global travel industry since the 1960s.
Despite having an enviable track record, we’re not taking our future success for granted. Several years ago, we started to make bold changes to the technology underpinnings of our business to respond to an industry evolving at record speed. Consumers want more personalized services, delivered quickly and securely. Airlines, hotels, travel agencies and all our other partners are transforming their businesses to provide travelers with a better experience while increasing profitability. To continue leading the industry, Sabre needed to double down on our investment in IT agility.
Our investments focus on two core initiatives. First, we’re moving out of our legacy data centers and shifting applications into a multi-cloud, on-and-off-premises IaaS. That will give us more capacity and a better ability to provide high-quality service to all of our regions on a 24-by-7 basis. Second, we’re embracing microservices to break big tasks into smaller ones and make us more dynamic, flexible and responsive to customer needs.
These two work streams are going on simultaneously. To make them happen, the company has redoubled its focus on technology development and information sharing. We’ve also reached outside the company to establish alliances with public cloud providers and technology partners including HPE.
Moving to the cloud
The migration from data center to cloud has been a multi-step processIn preparation, we’ve shifted some of our resources to Sabre-owned, co-located data centers with IaaS services provided by HPE. These on-premise data centers are housing applications that we later plan to refactor and move to the cloud.
Sabre’s multifaceted cloud strategy will offer greater localization for customers around the world. Bringing Sabre products closer to customers will increase speed and improve leading application response times for Sabre customers. Customers will also benefit from our migration to the cloud through the enhanced stability and world-class security inherent in a distributed cloud model.
But our IT agility efforts involve more than just improving efficiencies. We’re creating a next-generation platform that will enable us to change the way we do business using a platform based on Red Hat OpenShift. OpenShift allows for a cloud-agnostic approach Furthermore, we can build innovative, cloud-native applications. OpenShift allows us to create services that work more seamlessly across hybrid cloud architectures, letting us consume cloud-scale resources while also enabling us to move workloads wherever and whenever needed.
To accelerate the development of our next-generation platform, we turned to HPE Pointnext Services. HPE had built two data centers for our private cloud functions in Texas, so we were familiar with their expertise on the hardware side. After discussions with HPE’s Cloud Transformation Practice, we came away impressed with their capabilities overseeing strategic shifts to next-gen technologies incorporating containers, multi-cloud deployments and the OpenShift platform.
We had more than 100 new services interested in the early adopter phase and hundreds of separate initiatives to tackle as part of the integration with OpenShift, AWS and Azure. Leveraging cloud and container experts from HPE we built a joint scrum team to accelerate working through our integration challenges.
Microservices will open up a new world of agility
As mentioned above, creating a microservices architecture is part of our two-pronged strategy. We’ll be able to do things we could never do in our legacy environment. We can isolate code changes better, test faster, perform rapid deployments, release more often and collect user feedback more quickly. Microservice architecture teams are also more independent and able to release changes with less dependencies on cross-team coordination. This will allow us to deliver new features – like an enhanced user interface for a registration system – on an on-demand basis.
The end-to-end automation that microservices provide will offer its own set of advantages. Sabre will be able to implement governance as code, ensuring security and compliance is adhered to at any given time. With microservices architecture and fully automated CI/CD, Sabre can reduce the effort around change control dramatically, allowing teams to be more efficient.
Creating a microservices architecture also enables Sabre to easily adopt current deployment strategies (blue-green/canary) for the broader application portfolio. As we all know, consumers encountering a slow booking website will bounce quickly to another – so better bug detection is an important factor in the travel industry. Faster cycles also give us the ability to restore previous application deployments quickly.
API updates were a challenge in the past. Splitting them up into microservices, we can do an API update without needing it to go hand-in-hand with a front-end update. This enables us to be much more scalable. We can add more external resources and more features. We already have some app stores and platforms where we offer solutions, but due to the nature of those applications, it’s not easy to combine those services. By moving to microservices, we can easily integrate with other customers and partners to offer better variety and third-party integrations.
Looking to the future
We’re making measurable progress that is adding value to the business. We’ve created a fully automated CI/CD pipeline and today have over 50 services in production on our NextGen Platform. We have about 55 percent of our total footprint in the cloud, including our entire shopping complex. We now have cloud landing zones set up with Microsoft Azure supporting our multi-cloud strategy, and we’re preparing to deploy multiple products there.
But our work is far from over. We’ll be adding more automation tooling; enhancing our security, visibility and release management; introducing more tooling to help our developers to better control releases to bring new deployments into the environment; and moving more into the OpenShift environment.
Sabre aligns millions of consumers with services that enable efficient global travel, connecting them with the people and places that matter. As our world becomes ever more connected, we are making the IT investments necessary to support the growth of our travel platforms and our vision for the future of the industry. By doing so, we continue to lead with the most innovative ways to plan, purchase and enjoy the perfect travel experience.