By Bruce Tierney on Feb 26, 2014
Thank you to Krishnaprem Bhatia, Product Manager for Oracle B2B Integration for this insightful blog post on the latest B2B integration trends for airlines and cargo hubs:
Many airlines today are using antiquated mainframe and proprietary systems for maintaining their Passenger Service Systems (PSS). These systems are typically mainframe systems which are old and complex with a high cost of maintenance. Airlines want to modernize these systems and reduce their costs by consolidation of numerous point solutions and legacy applications.
The need to reduce complexity, bring down IT costs and increase their flexibility is driving airlines to outsource their PSS systems to vendors such as Amadeus. Although self development of these PSS systems can be done in-house by major airlines, it can be more expensive, less flexible, and less feature rich than the outsourcing option.
As airlines outsource more of their PSS systems, they need to exchange business documents such as reservations and ticketing with the outsourced provider. They also need visibility and manageability into the data flowing from outsourced systems into their enterprises.This incoming passenger data also needs to be integrated back into their internal systems. For example, different documents received from the outsourced PSS systems need to be processed and stored so that they are available to other internal systems. This has to be done using standards-based technologies for compliance and interoperability, ensuring that performance and operations SLAs are met at the same time.
How does Oracle Service Integration fit in?
Oracle B2B allows airlines to connect with their outsourced PSS systems such as Amadeus using industry standards-based technologies. Airlines can exchange different document types (typically EDI variants, non XML formats) such as passenger reservations, updates to reservations, inventory management, departure control systems and ticketing. Oracle B2B provides the ability to exchange these documents, process them, validate them, and translate them into XML for further processing by downstream components.
Airlines typically exchange information with Amadeus using two modes. In the real-time (online) mode the messages are sent 'live' by the PSS systems on an ongoing basis as they occur. In the batch mode many messages are batched together and sent at a particular time. Oracle B2B provides support for both real-time and batch modes, providing critical functionality such as document translation, validation, de-batching for these documents. It also provides the communication mechanisms such as File, FTP and MQ for exchanging these messages with outsourced systems. All this is done using standards based technologies such as standard document and exchange protocols. Once B2B is done processing the messages, these are typically sent to adjacent components within Oracle SOA Suite for message enrichment and transformations. Messages can then be stored in an enterprise warehouse where this data can be used by other internal applications. The end to end scenarios typically have high performance SLAs in terms of throughput and end to end processing time.
The products typically deployed in such scenarios include Oracle B2B, Oracle SOA Suite BPEL Process Manager for data transformation and enrichment and Oracle Data Integrator for migrating processed data into enterprise data warehouses. Customers may also choose to deploy this over Exalogic and Exadata systems for performance reasons.
Some customer examples
There are many customers who are using Oracle SOA B2B as described above today including an asian airliner who went live with Oracle B2B in November 2013. Their goal was to replace their mainframe-based passenger service system with a state of the art process that interfaces with Amadeus. The business scenarios included real-time integration, batch, no-fly list checks, integration with Amadeus via MQ. The new solution was based on Oracle SOA Suite middleware on the Exalogic and Exadata platforms. The benefits for the airline by deploying the new platform include reduction in cost, increased flexibility and increased performance (2x for batch processing, 32x for no-fly list)
Other similar customers include Sri Lankan Airlines who went live in Dec 2013 and All Nippon Airlines (ANA) planning to go live in 2014, along with others in the pipeline.
We also see that Oracle B2B is used to provide B2B SaaS services. This is becoming more common as more enterprises move towards cloud adoption in general. We already have customers in the retail sector such as SPS Commerce who have built their SaaS solutions using Oracle B2B, but today there are also customers in the travel segment who are providing SaaS based brokerage services. For example, Cargo Champs is providing a cloud solution for cargo management to more than 89 airlines worldwide. They are the biggest cargo broker cloud platform with airlines, frieght carriers, cargo hubs etc. With hundreds of different endpoints integrated using multiple data formats, they estimate to deploy 15,000 agreements and exchange 50 million messages over 7 data centers. Cargo Champs is using Oracle B2B for Custom, EDI and IATA documents exchanging messages over File, FTP and numerous other transport protocols. They are also using SOA Suite for message enrichment, business rules, transformations and routing.
There is a huge opportunity for the airline and cargo industry to improve their efficiency and agility as more and more airlines optimize their systems and move towards cloud adoption in general. Industry experts predict that there is going to be plenty of growth in this market for many years to come. For more information on Oracle B2B, see the following link