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Sabre Migrating Pricing App To HP NonStop

Move is part of company's program to migrate to open system that uses a relational database.

InformationWeek Staff

October 3, 2002

2 Min Read

Sabre Holdings Corp. says it's begun to migrate its airfare- pricing application from its current home on an IBM mainframe to a Hewlett-Packard NonStop server. It's part of a four-year program to migrate airfare pricing, schedules, and seating availability from IBM's older transaction-processing facility to an open system that uses a relational database.

Sabre's airfare-pricing application continuously updates about 20 million prices and 1.5 million schedules to provide travelers and travel agents with real-time data. The application rapidly evaluates billions of potential fare combinations for each requested origin and destination, as well as nearby airports that may offer lower fares.

Sabre's pricing application is critical to its ability to compete with companies like Expedia.com and Galileo International because many travelers and travel agencies make their purchase decisions based on price. Sabre has to guarantee its quoted price on a given travel arrangement once a customer has made a purchase, says Craig Murphy, Sabre's chief technology officer. Even if Sabre's system goes down and an airline's pricing changes during that time, Sabre is still responsible for selling tickets at the price the customer has agreed to pay. "We need to be able to stand behind our pricing answers 100%," he says. "At the pricing point, we've already made the sale. We have to pay the difference if we mess up."

While IBM's mainframe has been reliable during the past 25 years, Murphy says NonStop lets Sabre better plan for the future. The company's existing mainframe system running IBM's decades-old transaction-processing facility is more difficult to program and more expensive to maintain. It's easier for Murphy to hire and keep programmers proficient in newer languages such as C++ and Java than to maintain aging code written in assembler language and C. All told, a migration to NonStop will cut the cost of running Sabre's airfare-pricing application by about 40%, although Murphy wouldn't provide specific cost figures.The ongoing implementation of NonStop servers is the next step in Sabre's plans to migrate applications to an open-system platform.

Service provider EDS will run and maintain the NonStop servers, although Sabre will actually own them. Sabre last March outsourced its IT operations to EDS as part of a 10-year, $2.2 billion contract.

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