Orbitz's Journey To A New Platform

The travel site has always had a keen tech sense, and it's been bullish on open source.

John Soat, Contributor

February 7, 2008

2 Min Read

If Orbitz has had one thing going for it, it's a keen sense of technology trends. While other reservation systems were still running on IBM mainframes and using the CICS transaction processing system, Orbitz went with commodity servers and Red Hat Linux. InformationWeek Reports

The company always has been bullish on open source, using Red Hat's JBoss middleware and the Apache and Tomcat Web application server software. And it's heavily invested in Java: It claims to be the largest user of Sun's Java-based, service-oriented development environment, Jini. On the proprietary side, Orbitz uses Oracle database and apps.

For its new global online platform, Orbitz kept most of its Java architecture intact, says chief architect Chuck Clark, except for "some small, non-Java parts" written using open source tools, including the Ruby on Rails application framework and the Erlang and Python programming languages.

Clark says two objectives of the new platform were to keep from having to recompile all of the Java code whenever changes were needed to the system and for Orbitz to be able to host multiple sites, including those it creates for outside parties known as "white label" sites.

Where Orbitz developers spent considerable effort was on making the user interface level more dynamic and accessible. It used to take a team of 10 or 12 developers just to change the color of the interface, Clark says. Also, Orbitz wanted to ensure accessibility by a variety of end-user devices. It used the modular Spring Web Flow framework in developing the UI technology and a rigid adherence to interface standards. Now, Clark says, "the whole UI rendering layer can serve everything from an iPhone to Internet Explorer."

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Orbitz's Long, Strange Trip To A New Online Platform

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