August 20, 2012, 7:07 AM — Kempinski Hotels, one of Europe's oldest luxury hotel groups, is in the process of moving its entire corporate IT infrastructure into Amazon Web Services' (AWS) public cloud, where it expects to save up to 40% on its costs over a five-year period.
The project began in 2009, when IT director Jeremy Ward began putting together a strategic plan for the company's IT. This started with an audit of the hotel group's assets, where it found 147 servers, all virtualised (ESX host) running VMware, with an assortment of Windows, Linux and Novel operating systems.
Ward explained to Computerworld UK that the move to AWS was motivated by wanting his IT staff to spend more time improving on productivity.
"One of the key guiding principles that we came up with was that we are a hospitality management company, we are not an IT services company. I wanted to make sure that my staff is putting their skills towards improving the productivity of applications, rather than administering applications," said Ward.
"We are a relatively lean team, but if I can free up 50% of somebody's time to get them working more closely with our partners, it actually improves the performance of Kempinski as a whole."
He added: "They can drive the efficiency of applications, rather than spending their time running a backup, changing a hard disk or patching an operating system."
Ward explained that Kempinski selected AWS out of three possible cloud providers, though he did not want to reveal the names of the other two, as the hotel group still works with them in other areas.
"After a number of meetings it became obvious to me that AWS was the best fit for our requirements. We wanted a solution where we could have a number of base servers that we knew would be running most of the time, but also have a number of servers running in a specific environment - such as a training environment - where they would be switched off for a significant amount of time during the year," said Ward.
"When we run a training course, which may be one week in any month, we are able to switch that environment on, pay for our consumption as we go, and then when the training is done we reset the images, turn those servers off and the images still sit on AWS. However, we don't pay for them whilst they are switched off."
He added: "Out of the companies we were talking to, they couldn't do that for us. With the other two, once you had committed to having an image up on their solution, you pay for it whether you are using it or not."