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Carlson Hospitality Worldwide Improves Speed of Reservations and Decision Support Systems with NUMA-Q

Published
  • December 01 1999, 1:00am EST
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BACKGROUND: Carlson Hospitality Worldwide is a global leader in hospitality services, encompassing more than 1,150 hotel, resort, restaurant and cruise ship operations in 73 countries.

PLATFORMS: The Curtis- C system runs on a 12-processor IBM NUMA-Q 2000 server running Forte software and the Oracle database and an IBM NUMACenter system running Windows NT. The operating systems are UNIX and Windows NT.

PROBLEM SOLVED: Carlson Hospitality continues to grow its number of locations, in part through acquisitions. At the same time, the company has moved to a more customer- centric business model ­ a change it sees as critical to maintain a leadership role in its service industry. In reviewing its existing reservation, CRM and data warehousing systems, Carlson realized that the systems previously in place did not have the capacity or the bandwidth to handle the anticipated growth. Additionally, Carlson wanted to enhance its data warehousing systems to develop a customer relationship management system that would ultimately improve customer service, enable cross-selling opportunities and lead to new growth. Carlson needed a flexible, highly scalable computing platform to handle global reservations. Carlson chose IBM's NUMA-Q platform, because it provided the computing power, high scalability, high availability and manageability needed for the mission-critical Curtis-C system.

PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: The Curtis-C global reservation system currently handles all reservation transactions worldwide. In addition, the Curtis-C system provides quick analysis of vital customer information for a complete customer relationship management (CRM) solution. This system has three distinct but collaborative parts. Curtis-C is the main transaction engine. It takes and delivers reservations, but it also provides customer information with those reservations to the hotel staff. HARMONY, a suite of applications at the hotel (also developed by Carlson Hospitality), returns updated customer information to CustomerKARE which cleans the data and removes duplicate information. With both the reservation and decision support systems up and running, Carlson Hospitality has the technology in place to support its intended growth.

STRENGTHS: Users have seen a noticeable performance improvement. The response time has been significantly faster, and the system has the ability to grow with the business and to accommodate increased traffic and user need. The system has also achieved the availability expected by the system's 200 concurrent users. IBM's NUMA-Q 2000 has continued processing reservations during the highest workloads on the Curtis-C reservation system without any noticeable degradation of service. With NUMA-Q, Carslon Hospitality has the ability to upgrade capacity with a moment's notice. The NUMACenter system allows Carlson Hospitality to leverage Windows NT resources into its data center, taking advantage of the numerous Windows applications and its ease of use. This is increasingly becoming a factor in the data center and has given Carlson Hospitality an edge in the market.

WEAKNESSES: One concern with the NUMA-Q servers was the small number of UNIX applications supported on the DYNIX/ptx operating system. The addition of Windows NT resources through the NUMACenter environment and the co-development by IBM and SCO of a standard 64-bit UNIX (code named Project Monterey) will address that, giving NUMA-Q operating systems broad software availability.

SELECTION CRITERIA: In 1997, Carlson Hospitality migrated its applications from Hewlett-Packard hardware to an integrated IBM NUMA-Q solution for its three- tier client/server system. The company chose an IBM/Forte solution to meet its global growth objectives because the NUMA-Q architecture offered the most scalable and maintainable components for enabling the company's systems. The combination of these products will support the demanding transaction volume and high availability required by the travel industry as well as the analysis of vital customer information.

DELIVERABLES: Response times for customer queries have been dramatically reduced for a faster solution. We are able to support a larger number of concurrent users.

VENDOR SUPPORT: IBM offered a superb conversion team and took the time to learn about Carlson Hospitality's business. IBM provided a SWAT team of strength, who were aggressive solution providers with a deep resource pool. The conversion was implemented in the early morning with only three hours of down time.

DOCUMENTATION: Documentation was thorough, and IBM's Professional Services team has been instrumental in optimizing our solution.

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