Webjet adopts Office 365, Windows Azure


blog It’s been a good year for Microsoft Australia in terms of local adoption of its “cloud” (whatever that means these days) class of technologies. Ranging from Office 365 to Hyper-V and Windows Server 2012, its online Dynamics family and more; when it comes to local uptake of its on-demand technologies, Redmond has been on a roll. The latest missive to emanate from the Microsoft monolith is regarding Webjet, which has adopted both Windows Azure and Office 365, and is even dabbling in Windows 8 apps. The full media release:

“Sydney, Australia – 6 Dec, 2012 – Webjet, Australia and New Zealand’s largest online travel booking website, is moving to more deeply embrace a range of cloud technologies from Microsoft as it looks to achieve greater flexibility in a competitive marketplace, support growth and drive its goal of delivering superior customer service.

The multi-faceted, multi-phased IT strategy spans across the business, from employee productivity tools delivered on Office 365 through to the data centre, where it will use Windows Azure to power up its web server capabilities. Webjet’s announcement comes as the company looks to fuel the next phase of its growth story after posting a phenomenal surge in online visitor traffic and bookings, up 30 per cent in Total Transaction Value to $768 million, for financial year 2012.

Flexibility with Office 365
Central to delivering superior customer service are its employees and ensuring they have both the technology and information they need at their fingertips. In early 2013, Webjet plans to upgrade its employees to the very latest in messaging technology by moving to a hybrid cloud solution with Exchange and Exchange Online, which is part of the Microsoft’s Office 365 productivity suite.

“Office 365 will allow us to scale our business activity as we continue to diversify our product offerings domestically and expand the Webjet brand globally,” said Graham Anderson, Head of Solutions Delivery at Webjet. “We will have the ability to add new employees and ensure that we continue to attract talent that is interested in working for a company that provides the best technological tools to help them do their jobs,” he said.

The company evaluated several solutions in the marketplace but selected Office 365 as it gave them the cloud on their terms. “We chose Microsoft because it differentiates itself from the competition with its hybrid offering, giving us the flexibility and reliability of implementing it in the cloud or on-premise,” added Anderson.
By shifting to Office 365 with the help of their Microsoft partner, Paradyne, Webjet expects to reduce administrative time and maintenance costs previously associated with server maintenance which will allow its IT division to focus on more strategic projects. Anderson continued, “Office 365 will mean we won’t have to spend time adding storage, servers, and deploying people to maintaining those servers. Instead our IT employees can focus on more strategic projects that support business growth and help drive the bottom line.”

As Webjet expands globally and its business needs change, strong cross-company communication and collaboration will be imperative. The company plans to deploy Lync Online, part of the Office 365 productivity suite, in 2013 to allow Webjet employees to more easily share files, schedule online meetings and chat, streamline communications and cut through unnecessary emails.

Dials up Windows Azure for hosting
In early 2012, Webjet sought to increase the range of services provided through online channels to support the travel booking requirements of its growing customer base. Working with their Microsoft partner, Readify, the company undertook a trial project that culminated in Webjet delivering its mobile solution using Microsoft’s Windows Azure.

Over the course of this year, Webjet decided to deliver additional services on Windows Azure, including its revamped website. “The scalability, ease of use and integration into our overall development process was key in choosing Windows Azure as it enabled us to expand our travel technology solutions in line with our business growth,” said Graham Anderson.

Windows Azure also allows the site’s infrastructure to be modified substantially in a short period of time allowing Webjet to react quickly to the marketplace.

Innovating with Windows 8
Helping customers help themselves is something that Webjet believes is fundamental to its growing success. As the Windows 8 launch travel partner in Australia, the company delivered an app that gives customers access to Webjet’s full range of domestic Australian flights and over 155,000 hotels worldwide in a stunning new interface. The App reimagines the travel booking experience by making it easier and more streamlined to find and book flights and hotels.

Webjet Managing Direct, John Guscic advised that “the release incorporates the fluid philosophy initially established with our mobile platform applications. As such it means far less key strokes for consumers and a smoother flow of the booking process and integration process from initial enquiry through to confirmation.”

It opens up a new dimension in mobile access to Webjet’s product range and, in conjunction with same day arrival for a selected range of domestic hotels and domestic flight access, means that Webjet provides travellers with a unique last minute offering. This latest generation release will in due course be supplemented by international flights, cars and packages.”

Image credit: Robert Scoble, Creative Commons