The Business Context

Virgin Atlantic Airways is one of the largest British airlines, with 35 destinations worldwide serving around 5 million passengers each year. The company is dedicated to providing a simple and thorough customer experience, covering all stages of interaction with its services, starting from online bookings to the flight journey itself.

Having such a large customer base and a spread out presence involves a highly dynamic and demanding business environment. Keeping up with the ever-increasing number of website users prompted Virgin Atlantic Airways to ensure proper assistance to their back-end process operations.

The airline recognised that having sustained maintenance and support to the website is key to upholding high service levels, while remaining proactive with regard to possible risks. Having worked with Virgin Atlantic previously on various projects, iQuest was able to identify and apply the most appropriate and efficient approach to the airline’s need for back-end support.

The Solution

Working in close collaboration with EMC, a leading provider of IT services, iQuest engaged in assuring managed services for the airline’s website.

For more than 8 years, our team has been providing 24×7 Level 3 support for the VAA’s main website and for some additional micro-sites used by customers and staff members.

One of the project’s goals is to develop small and medium-sized pieces of work, with frequent releases to the live environment, in order to create a stable online platform for its users. This agile approach for the development process creates a flexible and productive work setting.

iQuest uses a problem management application in order to access occurring incidents submitted by customers through the client helpdesk. The issues are investigated and based on the severity of the reported problem (critical, high or standard) our team has a corresponding SLA for fixing them.

At this stage, iQuest found it extremely useful to implement a user action tracking framework, which traces down the user’s interaction with the website, enabling our team to perform a more thorough incident investigation. There were no business analyst involved in the process as our developers together with VAA performed this role by carrying out in-depth analysis as the items are implemented.

The VAA website offers a variety of services, such as flight data caching, flight reservation, boarding pass printing and online payments. The interaction with a multitude of systems adds a layer of complexity to the application and the hardware structure, along with interesting challenges in maintenance.

In order to keep up with the growing content volume and the number of website users, the iQuest team increased the number of web and application servers in the live environment, which also required adjustments to be made to the platform’s architecture.

Although responsible for Level 3 maintenance and support activities, iQuest has also been involved in Level 2 support, helping the L2 team with numerous environment and architecture specific problems.


For more than 8 years, iQuest has been providing 24×7 Level 3 support for the VAA’s main website, maintaining the website’s high availability and performance.


 

The Business Impact

Ensuring a satisfying experience to Virgin Atlantic’s website users meant creating a reliable environment where both customers and staff members could perform multiple operations of any complexity without facing inconveniences.  Maintaining the website’s high availability and performance was possible by providing various workarounds in critical situations in order to avoid code changes or outages.

Gaining such control over the system environment helped the team considerably minimise the IT effort.

By using the same team for both maintenance and support, the knowledge gained in maintenance was made available for 24×7 support, enabling the team to remain proactive with regard to possible problems. As a result, the time spent on support activities was reduced by solving the technical issues as soon as they arise, before they could impact the business environment.

Due to the improved configurability of the application, several changes that previously required time-consuming re-deployments can now be activated by adjusting reloadable files, applying database changes or by individual server restarts. While it increases the productivity of the platform’s resources, streamlining these internal processes also reduces operational costs.

Whether proactively identifying potential issues or leveraging best practices to solve the already occurring incidents, succeeding to minimise  service disruption and website outages on a regular basis testifies to a stable and reliable online platform.

Virgin Atlantic Airways’ strong and dynamic online presence depends on well-run back-end operations.  Benefiting from a unique combination of a fast and proactive suite of managed services, VAA’s website is able to perform at its best, capitalising on the long term value of technical and business efficiency.

Key Benefits:

  • Reduced time spent on support activities with 18.5%
  • Reduced solution time for incidents by 15%
  • Enhanced logging and reporting
  • Stable and reliable online platform