Service Oriented Architecture or SOA as it is popularly known is a logical evolution of component based architecture and distributed computing, both of which were prevalent in the 1990s. Today SOA is on the threshold of maturing into a design technique that helps align business with IT initiatives and leverage this alignment to get various benefits.
The travel industry, particularly airlines, has always been on the leading edge of adopting IT into core business. The likelihood of Travel Industry being an early adopter of SOA appears very high.
What makes it imminent for the travel and hospitality industry to adopt SOA?
Traditionally, the travel industry is heavily dependent on mature, relatively expensive core systems such as the CRS and the GDS. The industry has a requirement for a large number of complex integrations with relatively disparate systems. At the same time, the numerous entities involved within the travel industry – airlines, hotels, car rental companies, intermediaries, increase the need for increased interoperability. SOA facilitates reusability and interoperability both of which are critical in the travel industry. Let’s take the example of the booking process for an airline. Very broadly, this process consists of the following – getting the availability, pricing the selected itinerary and completing the reservation. If these three sub functions were built as services, these could be plugged in from various sources such as the airline website, the airline’s internal reservations application, a partner site such as a hotel that can access the airlines inventory, a travel agency with access to the airline’s inventory or even a corporate that has an agreement with the airline. This ensures consistency across the booking process while allowing flexibility by changing parameters depending on the entity accessing the service.
SOA, if used appropriately and in conjunction with standardization (such as the initiative by the Open Travel Alliance), can help alleviate some of the industry’s challenges with respect to integration and interoperability.