IT director Eric Neville

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IT director Eric Neville

Post by atoutprix on Fri 14 Feb 2014 - 18:38

Ryanair’s IT director Eric Neville :

We have 65 bases where we park aircraft, though we actually fly to 178 locations. We then would have about 2,000 PCs and laptops spread across the bases, predominantly, and then we would have about 600 printers. We have five data centres - we have two for internal systems and then we would run and the booking system separate from that on the three other sites.

We've got about 600 telecom lines, because every site we have has to have resilience. We have about 50 different applications we support and we have about 400 servers - that's a mix of physical and virtualised. We're moving more and more to the virtual, although virtualisation of the booking system isn't of any benefit, because the server has large numbers of hours where it's busy.

Our site is busy 24/7. We have about 30m hits a day, and we're selling between two and three aircraft a minute. And the site is very busy from 10 in the morning till 10 at night.

Behind all that we have 40 people in IT. And the plan is to expand that now because we are rolling out a lot of changes in a short period of time.

It's one of the biggest websites in Europe, so keeping that running is a massive part. And the same system is used by 178 airports so they have a dependency on that: they start at 4am and finish at midnight, in many cases.

We're under Sarbanes-Oxley, and it is interlinked with ITIL [IT Infrastructure Library]. We implemented a helpdesk that is an ITIL-based system: we are process-driven, with formal signoff, change control - we drive all that through our helpdesk system.

A lot of it is ultimately, to improve our website. To make the booking process simpler, to be more in touch with the customer needs. And on the mobile, you can't have a slow, clunky process - we want to have a streamlined mobile presence, as well.

We also have a number of projects looking beyond just the website: pilots, cabin crew, within the aircraft to remove paper and improve the information in their hands. We're looking at anywhere that there's a potential new digital approach that could benefit the customer or the company.

Now, in terms of in-flight entertainment, most people in your aircraft now have a digital device of some sort, so it's about how to make use of that. For instance, you could have a server on board with a Wi-Fi unit, so people can order things online or watch a movie. It also gives the customer a reason to go back to that airline.

The big issue for most airlines that's still a good bit away from being solved is reliable broadband speeds off the aircraft: the performance isn't good, it's very costly and there's a lot of fuel burn associated with it, so that's an area I'd like to see improve over next couple of years.

There needs to be a reduction in the cost of bandwidth through satellites and an improvement of the antennas on aircraft because they're currently bulky and they cause a lot of drag. People are used to being connected 24/7 and at the moment it's quite expensive to do that in the air.

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