Cathay Pacific's Intranet Takes Flight

Cathay Pacific Airways is extending its corporate intranet -- IntraCX -- to its 7,000 staff worldwide through a deal with U.S.-based Attachmate Corp., a supplier of mainframe host access software.

According to Cathay Pacific, its corporate network has been running on various platforms for over seven years, but now it is for the first time standardizing the system to access its IBM and Unisys mainframes.

Cathay did not disclose the total cost of the intranet consolidation, although Attachmate said it cost Cathay "millions." The new project is Attachmate's single biggest order in Asia to date.

"We required a one-vendor solution … that will enable our staff to access our mainframe systems any time, anywhere via the Web," said Jessica Cheung, manager of IT planning and architecture at Cathay Pacific.

Cheung added that Cathay Pacific expects to standardize the host access service across the organization this year.

Attachmate counts Cathay among the early adopters of technology, with the intranet serving as a good example.

"Cathay is the first airline in Greater China, and possibly the region, that [provides] enterprisewide access to every function available on their mainframe," said Shriram Chaubal, Attachmate's vertical sales manager.

Chaubal explained that airlines are "traditionally conservative customers because they have to maintain very mission-critical networks … which tend to make them followers rather than early adopters of technology."

"There are not many airlines which have gone to the extent Cathay has," Chaubal said. "CX has been visionary within the airline crowd that we deal with."

Attachmate claims to have over 90 percent of all commercial airlines as customers.

IntraCX provides staff members with real-time access to the company's mainframes as well as self-service applications online. These include ordering staff discount tickets, submitting online leave application forms and checking work schedules.

According to Attachmate, this year will be a big year for the enhancement of airlines' technology.

"In the past few years, [airlines] have been busy with Y2K preparations and the regional crisis," Chaubal said. "Pulling out of the regional crisis, they're now seeing the requirement to go with Java-based intranets."

Other airlines, including Korean Air and Bangkok Airlines, are currently looking to upgrade their intranet services in projects that are similar to Cathay's, Chaubal said.

The IntraCX rollout, Attachmate said, would be completed in two weeks' time, following a Y2K desktop freeze that was removed soon after a smooth rollover to 2000.

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