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Sleeping better at an Indonesian hotel chain

Zafar Anjum | July 3, 2013
Jules Brookfield, Vice President of Technology at Archipelago International, one of Indonesia’s fastest growing and most technically advanced hotel chains, describes the challenges faced in running their multiple websites.

On a more strategic front, a few years ago, I was looking at the huge number of hotel contracts we were signing and I calculated that if you just divide the number of hotels over the number of days in the year, we will have to set up about one hotel every seven days!  At the time we were only setting up about one hotel every three months. How could we coordinate specifications, budgeting, procuring, delivering, and configuring so many hotels and servers so often. Even worse, how could I find skilled IT managers to hire for this many hotels, when the budget (especially for our 2- and 3-star hotels) was so low. 

So, I decided I wanted to run all of our servers off of Amazon EC2, it was a dramatic idea; and we've had to force our vendors to adjust their software a bit, but in the end we have dramatically streamlined the whole process and I no longer worry about a hotel going down due to a leaking pipe, or a disgruntled employee who wants to cause damage. 

What's more, most of our software vendors who have changed their software for us, have since then embraced the same model that I put forward and are now pushing this idea for their other customers as well.

For the last two years, I've been running nearly all our Favehotels, Neo Hotels, and Kamuela Villas property management software in production on Amazon EC2 and Amazon Virtual Private Cloud (VPC). I've now begun to use EC2 and VPC for our larger and higher star level hotels, such as Quest, Aston, Alana and Harper hotels. It's been a great benefit for everyone, because the hotel owners now need less upfront capital to put up, less space wasted in the hotel, less electricity, our property management software vendor loves us because their setup process has been reduced from three or four days to now a few hours, and we no longer arrive at a hotel only to find out they've purchased the wrong server. 

From a procurement angle, we've reduced that process from what used to take four to eight weeks, which included tendering, ordering and most of the time waiting for shipping; to just a few minutes by launching a snapshot of a hotel that is already working perfectly.

By hosting our servers with AWS, we've been able to reduce the size of the networking room in the hotel, we spend less money on electricity, and we're able to share our IT staff across multiple hotels now because they can be handled remotely. Overall, this has saved us about US$210,000 per year - as we add more hotels quickly, this will just equate to even more savings.


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