Strategic Profile Sabre Holdings

Strategic Profile Sabre Holdings Corp.

Sabre Holdings Corp., based in Southlake, Texas, is a $2.1 billion holding company with four technology-based travel business units: the Travelocity online travel site; the Sabre Travel Network, which operates the Sabre reservations system for travel agents, suppliers and travelers; GetThere, a Web-based corporate travel service; and Sabre Airline Solutions, which provides software and consulting services to airlines.

  • Top IT Exec Craig Murphy, senior vice president and chief technology officer

  • Problem Sabre, like the entire travel industry, is always looking for ways to reduce operating costs while improving customer service. The company has been using Unix for much of its infrastructure, but wanted to find a way to reduce infrastructure costs, particularly as traffic on its travelocity.com travel site has increased.

  • Goals Murphy says Sabre Holdings sought a back-end system to handle "heavy-lifting shopping applications," such as online travel reservations, that would offer flexibility, reliability and cost-effective, long-term scalability.

  • Strategic Fit Linux isn't necessarily a strategic product, but rather "a better hammer for reducing infrastructure costs and creating a more flexible architecture. But it's a better hammer that fits nicely into our overall IT strategy. We've got to get faster, better, cheaper solutions into our infrastructure, and Linux lets us get there," he notes.

  • Open-Source Experience Sabre's long-term experience with the popular Apache Web server software for Travelocity has made the company very comfortable with the notion of working with the open-source development community. Now, it has moved more aggressively by adopting the MySQL open-source database, along with Linux-based server clusters for shopping applications.

  • Lessons "From a cost perspective and a capabilities perspective, you've got to consider Linux," says Murphy. "Your cost at the scaling point, after the initial implementation, is essentially zero, and you're getting a robust environment that delivers the intangible benefit that your technicians love to work on Linux."

  • The Caveat? "There's the potential for anarchy inside your company, for multiple, incompatible flavors of Linux in different departments, since it's so easy and cost-effective for any department in your company to go to the Internet and get the code." To combat that, companies need to identify, and stick to, a well-documented, defined architecture, says Murphy.

    Mike Perkowski has followed the IT industry as a reporter, editor, publisher and marketing consultant for the past 25 years.

  • This article was originally published on 12-01-2003
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