From build to buy: American Airlines changes modernization course midflight

By Robert L. Mitchell and Johanna Ambrosio, Computerworld |  IT Management

Liebman's response: "I can't comment or speculate on our business partners' internal matters, but HP remains an important and strategic business partner of American Airlines."

It was a good time to take a step back and rethink the strategy, Leibman says. "We questioned whether it made sense to make the tremendous investment of time and resources that go along with building something yourself -- or look for something that others had already built and tested. In this case we made the decision that we wanted to buy," she says.

Jetstream's slow take-off

Jetstream, the new PSS initiative, officially got off the ground in 2010. (Some early work, including the decision to dedicate resources to the project, had started in 2007.) Led by vice president of business technology services Daniel Henry, who reports to Leibman, Jetstream will eventually include modules and sub-modules to handle reservations, passenger itinerary management, shopping, ticketing and pricing, check-in and other functions. "Our ultimate goal is to have a customer-centric passenger services system, which will allow our agents to pull up a customer by name and have all their relevant information at their fingertips," he says.

Henry says American is intentionally taking it slow. "This is not a big bang project. This is the heart of the airline, so we are taking a very methodical approach," he says.

The sheer size of the Jetstream project makes that necessary. "I am not sure you can get more complex than a PSS," Henry says. "There's a lot of data transfer and transformation that goes on," with more than 100 applications sharing or synchronizing data with the core PSS software on the mainframe. The PSS brokers the sharing of data, as well as data transformation and processing.

The new platform must do all of that and enable rapid change. "Our success will be defined by: Can we change it the next day? That's our number one success factor," he says.

Henry's team has made progress in reviewing and documenting business processes, policies and procedures, but programming plans stalled when American made public its decision to terminate its contract with HP in June.

American would say only that the buy versus build decision was not made at any one moment in time but was made over time as they evaluated different factors. "Thus, we made announcements and decisions about Jetstream as each decision point was reached," a PR spokesperson said.


Originally published on Computerworld |  Click here to read the original story.
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