Ryanair flies all its infrastructure to the Amazon Web Services cloud

10 May 2018

Ryanair plane. Image: Vytautas Kielaitis/Shutterstock

Airline Ryanair is going all in on its cloud journey.

Dublin-headquartered European airline Ryanair has revealed that it plans to close the vast majority of its data centres over the next three years.

Instead, it plans to move its IT infrastructure entirely on to Amazon Web Services (AWS).

‘Machine learning is hugely important to our growth’

Ryanair, which carries 130m passengers a year, already runs several core production workloads on AWS, such as Ryanair Rooms and Ryanair.com. It is building a company-wide data lake on Amazon S3, leveraging Amazon Kinesis to gain deeper insights from customer and business data.

Learning from those flying machines

The move is a core element of Ryanair’s digital transformation, involving the move from legacy systems to cloud-based, innovative customer travel services by standardising on various AWS services, including AWS databases, analytics, machine learning and deep learning.

It is understood that Ryanair is working with the AWS ML Solutions Lab to create an application that enables the company to automatically detect surges in demand for flight segments and anticipate schedule changes.

By migrating from Microsoft SQL Server to Amazon Aurora, Ryanair said it can now run one of the largest email marketing campaigns in Europe with higher performance at a fraction of the cost, sending out 22m emails daily to customers about travel bookings or sales events.

“By rebuilding core applications, converting data into actionable insights and creating intelligent applications, we are putting the solutions in place to continue our leadership in the travel industry,” said John Hurley, chief technology officer at Ryanair.

“Machine learning is hugely important to our growth, and we’re pursuing a variety of AWS machine-learning services, including Amazon SageMaker, to enhance customer UI experience and personalise the MyRyanair portal for every unique traveller.

“We’re currently trailing Amazon Lex to enhance our customer support experience by intelligently routing customer support requests to the right type of assistance, whether that be a customer support representative or an artificial intelligence-driven interaction.

“We were also one of the first companies in Europe to support Amazon Alexa, and created the MyRyanair skill for Amazon Alexa to handle account booking, flight enquiries and frequently asked questions,” Hurley added.

Embarking on the cloud

Ryanair is one of a growing number of recognisable brands that run their infrastructure in the AWS cloud. Streaming giant Netflix, for example, runs its entire infrastructure on AWS.

Ryanair’s wholesale move into the cloud is evidence of an overall change in direction for airlines when it comes to technology, said AWS.

“Leaders in the airline industry, like many large enterprises, are using AWS in a meaningful way to evolve their businesses and innovate on behalf of their customers,” said Mike Clayville, vice-president of worldwide commercial sales at AWS.

“They’re deploying new applications to the cloud by default and looking to migrate as many of their existing applications as they can, as quickly as possible.”

“Because we have the most comprehensive set of cloud services, including our leading machine-learning and deep-learning services, Ryanair will be able to employ those services to drive greater customer and employee satisfaction. We’re excited to help them create first-class experiences on AWS as they continue to use our capabilities and services at an accelerated pace.”

Ryanair plane. Image: Vytautas Kielaitis/Shutterstock

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years