Air transport IT industry provider SITA and Orange are to build a global cloud infrastruture to offer on-demand services to the airline industy, which will also be offered to other multinational enterprises.

Orange is already a long-time technology partner with SITA and 90 percent of international airlines already run many of their operations on SITA infrastructure. SITA and Orange are stepping up their efforts in offering on-demand and more closely costed applications to airlines, airports and other businesses.

According to SITA, 93 percent of airlines have implemented or plan to implement cloud computing services by 2014.

The new cloud computing infrastructure - announced at this week's SITA Air Transport IT Summit in Brussels - will be based on six interconnected data centres across five continents, with locations in Atlanta, Frankfurt, Johannesburg, Singapore, Hong Kong and Sydney.

Each data centre will primarily cover their regional areas and will be interconnected via Orange’s high-speed MPLS (multiprotocol label switching) network. The cloud infrastructure is called the "Air Transport Industry (ATI) Cloud".

Over this infrastructure, Orange Business Services and SITA will offer their portfolio of cloud computing services, encompassing infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS), platform-as-a-service (PaaS), desktop-as-a-service (DaaS), and software-as-a-service (SaaS).

The secure connections between the six data centres will mean each can act as a failover back-up site for another if one has any sort of outage. The two companies are aiming to achieve no more than 100 milliseconds of latency when their customers are operating their applications in the cloud.

Rollout of the infrastructure has already started with the data centres of Atlanta, Frankfurt and Singapore being fully operational by the first quarter of 2012, with all six ready by the third quarter of 2012.

Francesco Violante, chief executive officer of SITA, said: “Sharing the building and operation of the cloud infrastructure brings economies of scale to both companies. Only by working together are we able to bring a fully formed, high-end cloud computing infrastructure that can meet the complex and global requirements of the air transport industry.”

Vivek Badrinath, chief executive officer of Orange Business Services, said,“We don't expect firms to move 100% of their applications into the cloud from day one. They will move suitable applications into the cloud at their own pace."

As part of the cloud announcement, SITA said it was already now offering a desktop-as-a-service option to the airline industry, which it said could potentially reduce desktop application costs by "between 20 and 30 percent".

Malaysia Airlines is one of the first airlines to "show an interest" in the DaaS cloud-based service, said SITA. The DaaS service provides 30 applications to users accessing the service via PCs, tablets and smartphones.

SITA is effectively owned by the airline companies it serves. It has over 500 air transport industry members and 3,200 customers in over 200 countries.