What you can learn from United Airlines IT

| Chris Sakalosky, General Manager, Microsoft Midwest District

Running a business is never without its challenges. Technology is supposed to help ease those challenges, but has the opportunity to add to them. As your business grows and adapts, you face different IT needs. Similarly, as customers and employees utilize IT resources for an increasing number of tasks, the availability of your network and resources is paramount to success. Preparing for these needs, however, can be a challenge for businesses large and small. Chicago’s own United Airlines faced similar obstacles following its merger with Continental Airlines.

What you can learn from United Airlines ITThe airline’s IT team was tasked with building an infrastructure capable of flawlessly running all of its various systems, including reservations, baggage handling, public website, aircraft maintenance, database servers and more, every hour of every day. The sheer size and variety of operations demands a scalable and flexible IT infrastructure. But in the highly competitive and regulated airline industry, IT designers also needed to create a system capable of weathering any potential network equipment failures as well as outages from regional issues – like Chicago’s “mild” winters.

Years earlier, United invested in virtualizing its datacenter infrastructure, which created the backbone of a cost-effective, flexible and scalable IT system. Virtualization allows businesses to expand and adapt their network in just hours, as opposed to the weeks it can take to deploy physical machines. Following the merger, United saw the benefit of going all-in on virtualization by deploying a private cloud. Operating a virtualized network through cloud computing allowed United to respond to business needs and issues without disrupting the business itself. Cloud computing also offered United a resilient, easy-to-manage disaster recovery solution that would not be susceptible to the disasters that can hit a traditional datacenter.

Although your business might not be responsible for managing more than 5,600 flights a day, or keeping 80,000 employees connected and working 24 hours a day, the technologies and strategies deployed by United can benefit businesses of all sizes. Cloud computing, whether private or public, allows IT departments to focus on improving experiences for employees and customers alike, as opposed to managing traditional server environments. Meanwhile, the flexibility of the cloud ensures your business resources and information will always be available, providing increased peace of mind over legacy disaster recovery strategies. All of this works together to reduce IT costs, improve customer service and prepare your business for future challenges.

Explore Microsoft’s Cloud page to learn how your business can benefit from this technology and check out Microsoft’s Case Studies database to learn more about how United Airlines deployed its new IT structure.

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