Sabre moves to Amazon's cloud and microservices approach

28 June 2018

Flexibility was at the centre of conversations at the tech company's Technology Exchange event

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Keeping up with the pace of technological change is difficult, especially as the pace of adoption quickens. This week Sabre revealed how it plans to overcome this by becoming the ‘Amazon Web Services (AWS) of travel’ with a microservices and cloud-based strategy.

To the uninitiated, AWS is a hub for cloud-based software that allows businesses to select and plug in technology (built internally or by others) to implement into their own technology stack. These could be services based around storage, data, analytics, mobile, development tools…the list is endless.

In Sabre’s world, Vish Saoji, chief technology officer describes microservices as ‘lego blocks’ or bitesize services for travel companies. These are essentially its current packaged-up code split into blocks of code that are focused on a particular service, such as the NDC API. It means suppliers such as TMCs, airlines or hotels can plug in, test and implement new functions and services quicker with lower impact on current operations. 

Joe DiFonzo, Sabre’s chief information officer gave an example. “If a hotel wants a different check-in process we currently have to search the code and then change it and test across various products to check it is stable, and it’s a risky change. With the new architecture we can find that microservice, or create it if it doesn’t exist, and integrate so they are deployed in units and code can be tested at low risk.”

Another example would be if a supplier wanted to add a new payment method. Sabre would build the code for that payment provider as a microservice and then plug into the supplier’s stack to test. If it doesn’t work or there are problems, it can be removed.

TMCs, and travel buyers as a result, could see new functions implemented quicker under the new set-up, and it opens up the Sabre platform to allow more external microservices and software to be integrated.

This is being developed alongside a migration to cloud computing and smoother DevOps (development operations) that makes software producing more efficient. Currently the cloud strategy has been mapped out to 2023. Cloud ‘landing zones’ will be announced in EMEA, the Americas and APAC which should improve response times (currently all requests go various US data centres) and offers the option to hold traveller data in regions. If one zone goes down, processing is redistributed to another site.

‘Flexibility’ was mentioned frequently when explaining the strategy throughout the company’s STX London event this week. The developments will transform the back end but also affect traveller-facing capabilities. As Mark McSpadden, VP digital experience at Sabre Hospitality Solutions explained “Expectations will change, so we’ll meet what is the ‘dream’ traveller experience but the goalposts will shift and there will be a new goal. So, the work being done now means there is flexibility.” Who knows what technology travel will have to be ready for in the next few years. 

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