We are in a new era for software. Gone are the days when you would walk down to your local IT shop, buy a software package and install it to keep forever. Of course, back then you would also have the problem of running an out-of-date piece of software and nowhere to turn when it has gone wrong.
These days, the world has gone subscription-based with everything stored in the cloud. Adobe Creative Cloud, for example can only be bought with an annual subscription. Many travel companies will have a lot of staff needing to use the software for various parts of the chain, and the cost can soon mount up. It is something that is all-too-often not considered when planning budgets for the year.
I was recently asked by a travel agency client, which has to foot a hefty £20k bill every year for Creative Cloud, what would happen if they cancelled the subscription. Of course, the answer is that they would switch to a thirty-day trial period, after which the software would no longer be accessible.
As with other industries, the travel sector needs to adjust to budgeting for this new world of software and remembering that whatever subscriptions they have in place, need to be in the budget for every year, it is no longer about one-off payments every two to three years. Equally if you are expanding your team, remember those new team members may also need subscriptions to one or more of those software packages and that all needs to be considered.
Capacity and resilience
The other area which can often be overlooked is the need for additional internet capacity and resilience. Naturally the more data being stored in the cloud, the more capacity will be needed, which involves yet more budget. And you need to ensure that is resilient as losing that connection can be extremely detrimental to your operations. At ICE Technology Services, we handle that with redundant fail-over links, which switch to a standby server if the connection is lost.
That said, this new era brings a lot of advantages, both financial and in ease of use. Take Microsoft Office 365 and Microsoft Azure, for example. Microsoft has the hardware, so you don’t need it. That immediately saves a massive expense in terms of servers and other major hardware you would otherwise need, in order to achieve the same functionality.
Also, being cloud and subscription-based means that you will always have the most up-to-date version. Installation time is now drastically reduced. In the case of Azure, in the past we would need to purchase a new server for customers, along with the appropriate software for the version desired.
Not only would that involve a huge expense, it would also take three to four days for us to get it built into their network. Now, we can get Azure setup with the version desired within fifteen minutes. And, at any time when they want to upgrade to a new version, it will again only take a matter of minutes.
Avoid Licensing Mess
Having the additional support that Microsoft or others provide is also a game changer. In many cases, it is no longer necessary to have permanent and highly trained IT staff to manage that network, meaning companies can concentrate its staffing resources of serving customers or marketing its holidays, for example.
Certainly for our customers, we integrate the right IT system for them, for many we also manage the day-to-day running of the IT system and we troubleshoot any problems. However, having that extra element of being able to draw on Microsoft support for any additional problems is a real benefit, both for us and our clients.
Whilst these new subscription-based software solutions mean that companies need to budget that cost each year, it also does away with the risk of getting licensing wrong. Ensuring you have the correct licenses for the all the software and servers you have can be extremely complicated and all too easy to get wrong.
The cost of getting that wrong when Microsoft knocks on your door for an audit is not insignificant, often running into tens of thousands of pounds, if not more. Microsoft 365 completely removes that risk, as all the licenses are included in your subscription, giving companies much needed piece of mind.
The era of cloud computing is making IT invisible. Companies no longer need complicated on-premises IT solutions and ultimately it means that the travel industry can concentrate on what it does best, rather than spending huge amounts of man hours and expense on the IT infrastructure.
The present leading cloud software/services subscriptions include;
- Microsoft Office365 (Microsoft Office Application and Hosted Services subscription)
- Microsoft Azure (Virtualization Infrastructure)
- Amazon Web Services (Virtualization Infrastructure)
- Autodesk (AutoCAD Applications – Subscription Only)
- Adobe Creative Cloud (Adobe Applications – Subscription Only)