When most companies think of disaster recovery, they may quietly joke about the possibility of a plane crashing into the building and taking out the IT systems, but for budget airline, easyJet, it was an everyday risk a few years ago. “Our offices were a set of portakabins next to the taxi runway for Luton airport, so that kind of disaster wasn’t so far-fetched. We had to outsource our servers,” says Andy Caddy, easyJet IT services director.

Although they are moving to a corporate building, easyJet has just extended its original plan to outsource eight of its mission-critical servers to 200 for virtually its entire website business.

Dual hosting

“We’ve always had easyjet.com with two hosting companies,” says Caddy. “The key things for us in the new deal we signed in June are reducing the risk with greater stability and 24x7 availability. We also wanted to get good value to grow the business 20 per cent year-on-year.”

He says the five-year, multimillion pound deal with incumbent provider, SAVVIS, is priced per transaction. That is key to the value proposition it offers, making its responsibilities directly linked to the system’s ability to make money.

The company’s website, ticket reservation and flight operations systems and WAN are supported by the managed service. “It means the cost per passenger comes down and the numbers of seats we sell go up,” he says.

“It’s freed up a lot of valuable time for our team, where they might have been worrying about power, air conditioning, racking servers manually and other time-consuming things.”

Core concern

The deal is core to easyJet’s operating strategy, when you consider £1.6 million of its business currently goes through its site.
“Of our revenue, 98 per cent of it comes through the website,” says Caddy. “We need complete uptime and because we don’t pay for floor space but per customer, we can effectively add services at no extra cost.

“We’ve increased our fleet. We know how many air flights we can fly and how many passengers we can accommodate. We’ve increased capacity already by 30 per cent.”

He also says the time staff spent on administrative tasks can now be spent perfecting new services. “It allowed us to develop our internet check-in service really quickly because we’ve been able to spend more of our time perfecting the experience for the customer. “There’s also our ‘speedy boarding’ feature in trial at the moment that allows you to be among the first to board the plane,” says Caddy.

Cost reduction

“We’re moving quickly, yet we’ve still been able to guarantee our datacentre costs will reduce,” he says.

The company runs a live-live configuration from two load-balanced, hosted sites to enable real-time back up, failover and recovery. It has a guaranteed 100 per cent uptime agreement and the services are networked in a triangulated fashion with the easyJet Luton-based headquarters.

The company has also outsourced its email systems to the same provider, which is another cost saving to take to the board.

And despite a move to its new home, Caddy says: “We don’t have to cart hundreds of servers to the Luton offices, which is a great bonus.”