Jetstar failure a good case study

commentary Qantas' budget carrier Jetstar made the headlines for all the wrong reasons when it launched two weeks ago. One hundred thousand tickets at an introductory offer of AU$29 apiece for domestic travel was too much to resist so as soon as tickets went on sale at 6am, it was a clean sweep -- much like the Lord of the Rings at the Oscars.

commentary Qantas' budget carrier Jetstar made the headlines for all the wrong reasons when it launched two weeks ago.

One hundred thousand tickets at an introductory offer of AU$29 apiece for domestic travel was too much to resist so as soon as tickets went on sale at 6am, it was a clean sweep -- much like the Lord of the Rings at the Oscars. But the similarity ends there -- Jetstar's Web site simply cracked under pressure.

A Jetstar spokesperson brushed aside the issue, saying: "The delays in booking on the Web site were regrettable, but not once did our system go down."

The system didn't "go down" but Jetstar's Web site, which acts as a trading interface between the buyer and seller, still failed miserably. The logjam could have been caused by a myriad of issues but on the surface it seems that the airline was unprepared for the virtual load.

There's a good lesson to be learnt here: deep pockets isn't the answer to everything. Jetstar may have the funds to purchase the best IT equipment but this was a business issue. Technology failed Jetstar's customers because there was inadequate provisions to meet their needs.

Would outsourcing to an external data centre be the answer for companies like Jetstar?

According to StorageTek, many Australian organisations are revisiting data centre strategies to meet evolving business objectives. "The reality of IT disasters and the risk posed by inadequate business continuity plans have sunk in -- organisations are realising that these are better managed in a data centre environment," said Philip Belcher, StorageTek's managing director for Australia and New Zealand.

In a survey of 138 medium and large Australian companies conducted by the company last month, it was revealed that a majority of these organisations were planning, considering consolidating or relocating more server and storage infrastructure to a data centre for three main reasons -- to reduce costs, gain better operational control and improve data protection.

"Server and storage consolidation is being driven by the need for better management of the IT environment.

"Almost all organisations [surveyed] are experiencing data storage growth in 2004, with the vast majority having to accomodate this within a static or shrinking storage budget. Like last year, companies have to find ways to store more for less," Belcher said in a statement.

The survey revealed startling details about how companies handle critical infrastructure. "It's a serious concern that four in 10 companies surveyed had at least some of their mission critical servers and storage outside a data centre," he said.

He added that research has shown most data is lost due to human error, software failure and device failure, and not from natural disasters or virus attacks.

These observations are not new. What's different today is the dominant role technology plays in business. I believe if companies want to excel in this day and age, IT infrastructure issues, strengths and limitations need to be tackled and understood at a board- or management-level, much like how sales and marketing strategies are formulated and executed.

Do you think Jetstar should have been more prepared for the spike in demand? If you were the CTO at Jetstar, what would you have done different? Send your comments to edit@zdnet.com.au.