Sabre Banks On New Computing Environment To Stay Ahead Of RivalsSabre Banks On New Computing Environment To Stay Ahead Of Rivals
It's phasing out IBM mainframe technology in favor of a services-oriented architecture that will deliver information and applications as a collection of modular, customizable Web services.
May 6, 2004
In the face of growing competitive pressure from Web-based travel distribution channels, Sabre Holding Corp. is hoping that a re-architecting of the technology behind its global distribution system will keep it in front of the pack.
Chief technology officer Craig Murphy shared details of Sabre's new computing environment, which bets heavily on XML and Linux, with travel technology execs Wednesday at research firm PhoCusWright's Travdex conference in Dallas. Sabre is phasing out IBM mainframe technology in favor of a services-oriented architecture that will deliver information and applications as a collection of modular, customizable Web services. That effort got a major endorsement Wednesday when InterActiveCorp's Expedia signed a five-year agreement to have Sabre process a significant portion of its bookings. Sabre also is the parent of Expedia rival Travelocity. Sabre runs one of four global distribution systems that provide aggregated inventory and pricing information to travel agents. Sabre and its primary competitors--Amadeus Global Travel Distribution, Cendant's Galileo International, and Worldspan--all are preparing for pending deregulation that's expected to generate more competitive dealmaking with airlines. That, combined with the threat of a site like Expedia evolving into a modern global distribution system by serving as a rates and fares engine, means the incumbents have to get faster and more flexible in how they do business. So far, it appears Sabre is succeeding in doing just that. Much of the new technology is in production and is already delivering internal benefits, with Murphy reporting that Sabre has seen its transaction run-times fall by more than 80%. "We play to win, and we're doing everything we can to win," Murphy told the Travdex audience. Jeff Pogemiller, VP of information systems at Choice Hotels International, says the changes at Sabre should result in the rates found there being more in sync with Choice's own rates provided by its Web site and call center. Pogemiller says because lagging technology used by the global distribution systems, coupled with the fact that hotels have always been the second priority--after the airlines--it's been tough to update rates fast enough. "Whatever they can do to make that traffic efficient, I'm all for it."
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