Jetstar expands global reach with virtual bases

Network accelerators and virtual data centres cut latency

Jetstar's global expansion -- its plans to acquire low-cost airlines in Europe and North America -- will be linked by a worldwide virtualized network.

The low-cost airline has separate IT infrastructure and requirements to its parent company Qantas, and maintains its own strategic objectives.

Jetstar CIO Stephen Tame said it will expand its virtualized thin-client network into Asia, the United States and Europe in 2010 using virtual data centres.

"We want to franchise Jetstar globally in areas like Canada, Barcelona, Paris, Frankfurt and Asia which will be a big challenge for IT," Tame said.

"Everything including our networks, applications, servers, and storage has been commodified; IT is a means to an end and it must not get in the way of business."

Virtual data centres will be deployed in regions central to new service areas to reduce latency, starting with a new Asian point-of-presence. Sites will be equipped with Citrix WAN Scalers and Evergreen WAN optimizers.

The franchised companies will provide their own IT systems and connect to Jetstar's network via Citrix Access Gateway.

Jetstar will outsource as much IT and business processes as possible.

Hybrid technology in use

The company's IT fleet uses a mix of technology, ranging from Wyse Thin Clients over LANs in major airports, to laptops on dial-up, and custom-built thin client laptops.

Tame said it is another cost-cutting strategy designed to make use of new and legacy technology, provided it meets project requirements.

"We make use of appropriate technology rather than the latest and greatest; dial-up provides for the 40Kbs that the Citrix [Access Gateway] needs," he said

Managers in the Japan terminal, for example, were instructed by the IT support staff to buy laptops from the local IT shop when they asked for a new fleet of computers. This eliminated deployment and in-house support costs from IT and allowed staff to get faster support from the local supplier.

Similarly, custom-made thin clients from the Australian HQ were created by swapping the hard drive from a second-hand IBM T23 laptop for a flash card, stripping down the Windows XP image, and using a CDMA card for network connectivity.

The units were then shipped off to Saigon airport and have been successful that they have been adopted in other Jetstar terminals and continue to be part of production.

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