Qantas reshuffles IT for outsourcing learning curve

Qantas CIO Fiona Balfour has revealed more details of the airline's reorganisation of IT personnel following its landmark outsourcing deal in May.

Since signing off on infrastructure and telecommunication service mega-deals to IBM and Telstra respectively, Balfour said Qantas had engaged in a major program to transform technology staff from "traditional IT" to a "professional services organisation".

"We're in the early phase of the organisation learning how to use professional corporate services," Balfour told attendees at the Gartner Symposium in Sydney.

Qantas' IT improvement program was a heavy investment in its people, according to Balfour.

The program has organised IT staff into practices.

These are project management, relationship management, architecture, IT specialist and business analysis.

They are overseen by Qantas business systems, which includes managed services, group IT, and IT business services.

Balfour said the changes focused spending on revenue producing resources, rather than cost centres.

"The business value is in our applications, not infrastructure," she said.

"That's the space we see as very important and we'll continue to develop them."

Qantas has continued to consolidate its number of vendor partners as it utilises more outsourced services. IBM, Telstra, Oracle (corporate systems), Amadeus (for reservations) and SITA (international network) make up the panel of strategic suppliers.

The IT improvement program will help staff realise their role in working with specialist vendor partners.

"Airlines used to do everything themselves," Balfour said.

"Then the whole-of-IT relationships got a lot of airlines in trouble, and like a lot [of organisations] in Australia they're now unpicking it.

"Our policy is to go for expertise in groups."

At the technology level, the airline was currently in a "technology greening" process, she said.

Part of this will see the range of PCs used by the airline reduced via global desktop services partner Telstra.

Qantas had brokered an operating expenditure model with Telstra which recognised the importance of services in hardware, she said.

"We look at the whole service stack," she said.

"Most of the costs in buying a PC fleet come in services, the software, upgrades, the cards you have to put in," she said.

"We'll no longer be trapped into the PCs we buy."

The new year will also see a "transformation" process for the company data centre, Balfour said.

This will see the physical resources of the current centre relocated to IBM premises.

Balfour also flagged the "widespread deployment of Linux" throughout the organisation, particularly where Unix machines are used.

Also high on the Qantas agenda is an end-to-end IP network, with Telstra facing the challenge of migrating Qantas' ageing protocols.

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