Luton-based easyJet are differentiating themselves from other low cost airlines by bringing in a new seat booking system. Traditionally synonymous with airport scrums due to the free seating arrangements on their planes, this move signifies a new era for the carrier.

The new seat booking system is powered by Windows Azure, which includes Windows Azure Cloud Services and SQL Database.

Azure is Microsoft’s platform for building cloud applications. It lets people run their applications in a cost-effective, scalable and agile way, inside Microsoft’s global network of datacenters.

This means the tens of millions of seats easyJet has available at any given time are tracked via partitioned SQL databases and cached in the Azure AppFabric cache.

To quote a recent blog by Bert Craven, Enterprise Architect at easyJet, “The overall approach however has allowed us to implement an incredibly significant change to the way we operate and sell our flights and deliver it at massive scale without needing to implement much more than small refactoring in our operational and retail systems. The low cost and massive scale of Windows Azure has made the whole notion of experimenting with something so fundamental, an achievable reality.”

It’s been a huge change for easyJet and a trial for this new easyJet app started in April 2012 but is now being rolled out to the whole network for December 2012. The trial needed to meet some specific criteria for the company:

  • increase customer satisfaction
  • work operationally
  • work commercially.

It did, of course, also have to support bookings from around 58 million passengers a year and take over £4 billion in revenue. No small feat but one Windows Azure is more than capable of.

Microsoft’s Michael Newberry says that Azure and innovation go hand in hand: “Every day I speak to customers doing new things with Azure.  This is hugely exciting, and probably the most fun part of what I do. Bert Craven’s experience at easyJet is one example of this.  Here’s a major organisation that added significant new functionality to their core on-premise IT system (“the beating heart of our enterprise”, as Bert puts it) – using the cloud. Combining on-premise computing with the Azure in the cloud – a hybrid datacenter without boundaries.”

So, are you looking for a cost-effective way to revolutionise your organisation? Take a look at the Windows Azure website to find out more.

By Howard

Content and Communities Manager, Microsoft UK Public Sector Team