Past the point of no return – cloud and the hotel industry

Calum McIndoe, Infor Hospitality makes the case that cloud is not only the new norm, but should refine technology thinking in the industry…

What a difference a decade makes. As cloud adoption in hospitality has gradually worked its way inward from peripheral point solutions to mission critical applications, user expectations have taken on a new level of importance.

Throughout this evolution, most hotel IT teams have picked up a few war stories to share, describing the operational paralysis that engulfs a hotel when critical systems encounter performance issues, or go down altogether. It has become clear that the reality of client-server applications, with their big releases of monolithic, feature-laden code, can never cover an individual hotel’s configuration, or indeed, keep up with changes.

For example, take user acceptance testing (UAT). Previously, with a typical UAT, the end user would get an advance copy of the new software release to install on the server. A copy of the production database would be taken through a trial run of the upgrade process, so end users could then be set loose on the system to learn its new features. As defects were found, they were reported to the vendor for resolution, and fixes were either installed as patches or accumulated into another release, installed, and retested. The process was considered complete when the discovery of new defects slowed to a pace that was negligible, or at least acceptable to the user.

After testing was complete, and the hotel went live on the new version, the UAT often took on an important new role as a training environment that could be quickly synchronized with the production database, making for an extremely realistic training experience. In its defence, the UAT process greatly reduced project risk, but as the above shows, it was not at all agile. And indeed, if the reduction in risk can be kept, why wouldn’t you move this entire process into the cloud?

This example shows that whilst most cloud conversations tend to focus almost exclusively on the dramatic reductions in total cost of ownership that the SaaS delivery model brings, all parties involved could do a better job of communicating the other benefits of cloud computing to the other stakeholders.

Cloud is not just a better fit, or more effective, or more innovative. It displaces previous methods of deployment, without sacrificing the benefits realized. Indeed, it protects those benefits.

For example, one of the benefits of the SaaS model is that its shorter subscription term drives more rigour on both sides of the partnership – as a result cloud drives constant awareness that products and services need to be delivered with unfaltering quality and consistency.

This is just one of the many reasons cloud has come home to roost in the hotel industry and that – despite the heavy weight of legacy processes and systems, there will be no turning back.

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