- Delta Air Lines has picked IBM to modernize and migrate its applications to the public cloud, the two companies announced Thursday. No financial details from the multiyear deal were released.
- As part of the deal, IBM will migrate the company's computing environment to run a hybrid cloud architecture on Red Hat OpenShift, according to the announcement. IBM technology will allow the airline to "move hundreds of Delta's applications to the cloud," according to an IBM spokesperson. The impact to data center capacity will be evaluated and determined along the way, the spokesperson said.
- IBM's hybrid cloud technology will let Delta evaluate hundreds of applications and workloads, and then transition them to Delta’s cloud provider, AWS, according to a Delta spokesperson.
Ahead of an expected return of demand volume, companies in the airline space are taking the time to upgrade core customer-facing ecosystems and modernizing in order to scale, said Chirag Dekate, VP, analyst at Gartner.
Delta's 2020 financial results show the significant contraction happening in the airline industry. In its most recent earnings report, Delta posted a pre-tax loss of $15.6 billion for fiscal year 2020, including $6.6 billion related primarily to the impact of and response to COVID-19.
But ongoing vaccination efforts and falling case counts make executives hopeful about a business turnaround.
In its projections for 2021, the company expects to eventually see "sustained demand recovery as customer confidence gains momentum, vaccinations become widespread and offices re-open," said Glen Hauenstein, Delta's president, in a statement.
IBM's technology lets companies such as Delta "build enterprise-grade applications, and then execute them and orchestrate them in a cloud provider of their choice," said Dekate. Use cases for app modernization in the case of Delta could include, for example, baggage tracking, ticketing and troubleshooting systems.
"Being able to build a versatile infrastructure stack, an agile infrastructure stack that adapts to the changing application context, is incredibly important," Dekate said.
But cloud migration is only one aspect of modernization, and enterprises contend with operational challenges. Companies must learn "how to exist safely in that transition state," said John Annand, research director for infrastructure and operations at Info-Tech Research Group, in an email.
"It's not a switch that you flip and all of the sudden you’re digitally transformed," said Annand "It’s a multiyear process, so managing the complexity during the transition is paramount."
Clarification: This article has been updated to include John Annand's company. He is a research director for infrastructure and operations at Info-Tech Research Group.