Managed Services Infrastructure at Connections

Geert De Vuyst, former IT director of the Belgian Travel organisation Connections outlines their infrastructure and managed services project with ASP aimed at innovation, higher performance and lower costs.

Connections is a 100% Belgian travel organisation. We operate on the Belgian market for 26 years and today we have 30 travel shops including one travel shop at the airport and then we have a fast growing and every day more important online business. We offer our customers everything related to their travel, from plane and train tickets to hotel reservation, car rentals, full travel packages, last minute tickets,… you just name it and since one year we also propose travel articles in certain shops. The ICT team also supports two sister companies, namely Zuiderhuis and Airstop.

The challenge

In 2011 we had to renew our central server infrastructure. We were looking for an innovative solution. What was important for us was cost and efficiency: higher performance servers at a lower cost, a scalable solution with a simple, easy and intuitive management and of course we were also looking for a reliable partner. We sent, at that time, our requirements to five different providers. Important for us were, the proposed technology, its pricing and of course the quality of the partnership that each provider was able to deliver. We then compared the various proposals and we selected ASP at the end.

The solution

ASP proposed a solution based on infrastructure from Dell Equalogic combined with virtualization software from VMware. In ASP we found a partner that is small enough to offer flexibility, speed and short communication lines with our own IT team while big enough to have the various competencies and skills that we needed and we were missing within our own IT team and the results shows that we made the right choice with ASP.

We started by migrating our existing server infrastructure. We spent several months on this task as we wanted to avoid any risk. We worked in different phases addressing in sequence the front office, the middle office and the back office. We worked according to the established plan, and since then we have continued to work together and we migrated also our other infrastructure to the environment managed by ASP.

As mentioned earlier, we started about a year ago, to sell travel items in some of our shops. In order to do that, new business flows were defined and a new Navision package was installed on the same infrastructure that ASP is managing. Afterwards, we migrated our webservers to ASP hosting environment. This allows us, at peak periods, to have additional capacity and resources, which is often required during our early bird campaigns, when heavy traffic is hitting our web servers.

The result

We are very satisfied with the collaboration with ASP. We experienced short and efficient communication with their team of experts. We also feel the benefit of their “think along with our needs” approach, not only at the technical level, but also at the business level. This is a real plus that their partnership is offering us.

Additionally, within ASP, the internal communication between the account management and system engineers is smooth and perfectly tuned, while the company management have a clear understanding of what is happening in the field and that is a very strong point for a partner working for Connections. I can definitely recommend ASP. They have a strong team with a wide range of skills with a customer-oriented approach.

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