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Travelocity's flight to open systems

CTO Barry Vandevier trusts Linux to keep Travelocity's renowned extended enterprise aloft.

By , Network World
November 10, 2003 12:15 AM ET

Network World - The extended enterprise concept is as old as networking itself, and as young as  e-commerce. Few companies typify that old/young dichotomy better than  Travelocity, the Internet child of Sabre Holdings - granddaddy of extended enterprises.

In Travelocity's seven-plus years of operation, it expertly has piloted the e-business skies, serving millions of customers with connections to thousands of hoteliers, airlines, car rental agencies and other travel suppliers.

Its Merchant Program, just one instance of its e-business architecture, already represents more than 7,500 hotels one year after its launch. With this program, which increased by 3,000 partners from June to September 2003 alone, Travelocity behaves like a hotelier's own Web site. Via exclusive contracts negotiated between Travelocity and the hoteliers, the site taps into the hoteliers' central reservation systems (CRS) and carts out the lowest rates and real-time availability. This is in addition to the 55,000 hotels that Travelocity sells via the Sabre system (the same data accessible by all travel agencies using Sabre).

CTO Barry Vandevier, one of Travelocity's early site developers and a member of Sabre's IT team before that, became CTO in October 2002. He describes his passion for open source tools and shares his thinking on Web services, security and site management in an interview with Julie Bort, executive editor for Network World's Signature Series.

From an IT standpoint, describe your relationship with Sabre.

We have separate IT organizations. We focus on the Travelocity site, Sabre on the infrastructure, but we collaborate heavily on a constant basis building out our projects. For instance, the Hotel Merchant product that [Travelocity has], we built together. The Total Trip product that we released in June, where we are packaging our hotel and air products together, was a combined product between Travelocity and Sabre.

Tell me a bit about Travelocity's architecture.

Barry Vandevier

We are migrating to a new architecture, from our original system built on C++, running on Unix SGI. We are migrating to an open source Java platform running on Linux. Total Trip is running on the new architecture, as is some other functionality. We'll continue migrating over the next several months [for completion] next year.

Why Linux?

We want to improve our flexibility and really decrease our time to market. The system we run for some of our older products is great, but from a total-cost-of ownership perspective, Linux was just a very good ROI.

We're a big fan of open source, from total cost of ownership and from the sharing/collaboration [creation processes], using tools developed by other people and having [easy access] to other people who have experience with them. We're using Tomcat, Struts, Linux, JUnit, as well as some off-the-shelf products, like [IBM's] Rational Rose and [JetBrains'] IntelliJ, for our [Java] development environment.

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