The group’s aging IT environment was reaching capacity limits and experiencing issues with power, cooling and generator backup. Group Information Services Director Chris Dare recognised that its infrastructure was not sufficiently resilient and this was exposing the business to risk. He took the opportunity to carry out a strategic review of the IT architecture underpinning the business to put it on firmer foundations.
Chris Dare reports, “We conducted a technical review which concluded that the cost of upgrading our own IT infrastructure to the level of resilience offered by Sungard Availability Services could not be financially justified. So we took the strategic decision to outsource to Sungard, rather than invest in our own back-up systems.”
Monarch researched the market to evaluate potential solutions and providers. Group Information Services Director Chris Dare says, “Before making the decision to outsource our most critical systems to Sungard we did look at three other providers but what I liked about Sungard’s proposal was the ability to flex the contract – adding new servers and taking others off contract – according to business demands. And looking ahead, it’s reassuring to know we can integrate a disaster recovery capability whenever we’re ready to turn it on.” He explains that Sungard AS’s track record carried considerable weight. “Having visited Sungard’s Network Operations Centre, I was reassured by the consistent, proceduralised way they manage their technology. The quality of technical support we’ve experienced is outstanding. They not only understand the technology and its application but, unusually in my experience, they have commercial awareness as well.”
He continues, “One of the things I like about Sungard is the rigour of the pre-sales process. They took the time to understand exactly what we wanted and helped to scope the services we needed so I knew I could rely on the price quoted – there would be no nasty surprises.” Chris found that making the business case for the strategy switch to his fellow directors was relatively straightforward. He says, “It was an additional cost the Board had never seen before, but when I explained that these were missioncritical systems and that the Sungard solution would reduce our reliance on buildings in our existing estate, as well as giving us 24/7 support for the first time, my colleagues could see it clearly made business sense.”
Knowing that failure to deliver its published flight schedule would result in loss of revenue and customer confidence as well as reputational damage, Monarch prioritised three critical systems to entrust to Sungard AS’s Managed Hosting Services:
- Sabre – this vital system underpins Monarch’s flight operations
- TravelBox – the Tour Operations division’s reservations platform and trade web portal
- SiteCore – website personalisation.
Monarch also relies on Sungard AS’s Infrastructure as a Service to run some of its websites and Electronic Vaulting to backup all its data.
“Knowing our critical systems are proactively monitored and well maintained means we can focus on supporting the business instead of worrying about technology,” says Chris. “It gives me massive reassurance. My job isn’t to run a team that runs data centres, it’s to provide innovation that supports the airline, engineering business and the tour operating division – and that’s what Sungard frees me to do.”
It’s early days but, already, Monarch is seeing the benefits. Chris explains, “Our systems run on a multitude of different platforms so another benefit for me is that I no longer need to have the skills in-house to support those, but can wrap them up in my Managed Services agreement.”
So far, the migration is running more smoothly than Chris even dared hope. “We haven’t reached ‘business as usual’ yet, as new things are being added all the time, and that’s quite a difficult environment to work within, but our two teams work very well together. In fact, they view the Sungard guys as an extension of the team, which is exactly what you want an outsourced partner to be.”
“Knowing our critical systems are proactively monitored and well maintained means that we can focus on supporting the business rather than worrying about technology.” Chris Dare, Group Information Services Director, Monarch Group.
“We conducted a technical review which concluded that the cost of upgrading our own IT infrastructure to the level of resilience offered by Sungard Availability Services could not be financially justified. So we took the strategic decision to outsource to Sungard, rather than invest in our own backup systems.” Chris Dare, Group Information Services Director, Monarch Group.