Virtualisation takes airline to new heights

Jetstar CIO Stephen Tame is banking on thin clients and managed expectations as his company plans a global expansion

Low-cost airline Jetstar is putting IT at the heart of an international expansion plans.

Jetstar, which is part of Qantus, is breaking out of Australia and moving into the long-haul market. This will see it fly to Asian cities, and eventually to Europe. This ambitious plan is putting extra demands on Jetstar's IT team, who need to ensure the company can work efficiently outside its core market.

Stephen Tame, chief information officer of Jetstar, believes that deploying virtualisation technologies and thin clients will aid this.

Watch the full video interview here 

"We've been spending a lot of time and effort looking at how we are going to be deploying and managing our systems moving forward, and a lot of that is around virtualisation technologies," said Tame."Virtualisation provides us with the flexibility to deliver those applications outside of the Jetstar world to those areas where we need to do business."

The airline industry has suffered several challenging years, due to terrorism fears and rising fuel prices. Tame's department runs on a very tight budget, but he's still keen to implement cutting-edge technologies such as electronic document management, which Jetstar already uses for crew records.

"We've implemented what I think is a fairly innovative solution for our invoice and payment processing, and that works extremely well for us. We are now looking to the same thing for HR and customer records, where you manage those huge volumes of paper," Tame explained.

Tame is working to a target of 97.5 percent uptime across Jetstar's systems. This means that manual systems must always underpin IT systems.

"That doesn't mean I don't have some high-availability systems, I do. What that means is that I could lose systems at an airport for a day, and I can go manual at that airport — I can survive," said Tame.

Another part of Tame's philosophy is to always consider the non-tech solutions to a problem which can simply mean using a pen. "In some cases IT is the last thing you want. It just adds complexity, it adds cost, and it doesn't contribute to the success."

Paul Coby, Tame's opposite number at rival airline BA, is also experimenting with new technologies. For Coby, the opening of Heathrow Terminal 5 will catalyse BA's use of online booking systems.

Watch the full interview to hear Tame's views on outsourcing, Key Performance Indicators and IT budgets.