Thomas Cook Group’s eCommerce websites were developed and run as decentralised islands throughout the major TC operating countries. There was no common platform, and no centralised business or IT strategy for the web channel. As a result, Thomas Cook were faced with a number of constraints for its aspirations to grow the web channel across the group.
The cost of operating multiple development, test and production infrastructures was very high and the development teams were hampered by delay, with new capacity or change often taking weeks and months to realise.
The testing teams were also struggling with inconsistencies between test and production platforms increasing the risk of deployment and release cycle period unacceptably.
Finally the production web site was plagued by extended outages sometimes lasting days, and often very poor performance with page loads often exceeding 1 minute. Firefighting site and infrastructure issues was getting in the way of improving the web site for visitors.
In September 2010 CatN was engaged to support a small-scale skunkworks project within Thomas Cook with rapidly deployed development infrastructure. The first network and server footprint was up and running in around 24 hours, immediately unlocking the development teams.
CatN’s responsive, hands-on support enabled Thomas Cook to develop new features and improve performance of the whole site very quickly. Within just a few months Thomas Cook had migrated thomascook.de and thomascook.fr to the new infrastructure at CatN providing significantly increased performance and functionality to visitors of those sites.
Thanks to resounding success in consolidating the German and French production web sites, just a year later in October 2011 Thomas Cook instructed CatN to populate a second data centre using the new reference architecture, with adequate capacity for January peaks on thomascook.com.
Within just 10 weeks CatN delivered a scaled-up production platform, which …
consolidated the majority of Thomas Cook’s online eCommerce and website operations, including development, testing and production platforms. Specifically this includes the flagship www.thomascook.com website and the sister sites for France, Germany and Netherlands, along with smaller sites such as Airtours and Direct Holidays – over thirty sites in total serving over 12 million unique visitors per month.
CatN’s responsiveness was key to the successful migration of over 60% of our eCommerce traffic and sites to a single consolidated platform. The end result was a much improved service quality approaching “5 Nines”, a single codebase and all consolidation targets met with >60% cost savings.
We have been able to move multiple extra web sites onto the platform which were not originally planned and this flexibility made a major contribution to our cost savings.
Interim Head of Infrastructure, Thomas Cook Online