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11/21/2006
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Lufthansa IT Chief Looks To Cut Costs With SOA Software

About 30 developers from EDS are working on the project, piecing together technology from BEA Systems, Microsoft, Oracle, and Tibco Software, among others.

German airline Lufthansa is implementing software it says will allow it to create faster and cheaper connections between its business systems and those operated by its partners in the transportation industry.

Under the plan, the airline has tapped technology outsourcer Electronic Data Systems to build a services oriented architecture -- a collection of middleware components designed to facilitate the flow of business data within and between organizations by using standard messaging and security protocols.

Lufthansa officials say the SOA environment will allow the airline to more easily create new computerized business processes -- such as electronic ticketing for a new route -- and feed the data to computers operated by Amadeus IT Group, which handles reservations and other back-office functions for Lufthansa. "We have a lot of systems that need to communicate with Amadeus; adding a layer of [SOA] middleware to handle that communication gives us a lot of flexibility," says Lufthansa CIO Christop Ganswindt.

Ganswindt also is confident that the "small double digit" millions of dollars investment that Lufthansa is making in the set-up will help it cut future development costs as it will eliminate the need for custom programming each time the airline needs to create a new connection to Amadeus or other service providers. "This will ultimately lower our operating costs," says Ganswindt, who declined to provide a specific number.

About 30 EDS developers are working on the project. They're piecing the system together using technology from BEA Systems, Microsoft, Oracle, and Tibco Software, among others. Lufthansa plans to launch the system in January. "It's a tight deadline so there's a lot of stress for everyone involved," says Ganswindt.

EDS officials say the company also is in talks to build SOA systems for British Airways and Singapore Airlines. Another airline that will ultimately require an SOA middleware environment is United Airlines. As partners in the Star Alliance network, United and Lufthansa have agreed to develop common IT platforms.

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