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IAG 'slow to move' to cloud before BA's IT outage: strategy head

IAG was "slow to move" to cloud-based operations in the lead-up to the IT shutdown at British Airways in May, the group's director of strategy Robert Boyle has suggested.

Speaking at the Future Travel Experience conference in Dublin on 26 June, Boyle said the "solution" to power outages like that experienced by the UK carrier in May was a "more comprehensive move to the cloud". He contends that one reason this has not happened is "frankly, union resistance".

Boyle says: "We should default to things being in the cloud... To do resiliency beyond a certain level within your own infrastructure becomes cost-prohibitive."

The late-May IT shutdown, which BA blamed on a power surge, led to widespread flight disruption and cost the airline some £80 million ($104 million).

Boyle recalls that the "biggest problem" was not the initial shutdown of the airline's computer systems, but occurred when the system was switched "straight back on instantly, which caused a power surge".

He says the situation was "compounded by the fact that our mechanisms for communicating with passengers and communicating with staff all rely on the same IT that has just disappeared".

Boyle declined to give too many "specific" details about the cause of the shutdown because of "lawyers and stuff", but says the airline's investigations are continuing to "get to the root cause of the root cause before deciding on an appropriate response".

Meanwhile, IAG is trialling a centralised database solution which will seek to give passengers "one version of the truth" where flight-status notifications are concerned, Boyle reveals.

He says the "problem" today is with "information being inconsistent from the different sources", with airline employees, smartphone algorithms and airports providing potentially different versions of the flight status to customers.

"The thing we are trying is potentially applying block-chain technology to develop a single source of the truth, but in a distributed way," Boyle says.

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