Air France-KLM is a worldwide airline company whose online presence is core to its business.
The airline relies on Internet technology to manage its internal processes as well as communication with its customers. Passengers buy tickets and choose their seats online, and pilots use web applications to access weather forecasts and to file their flight plans. KLM’s WebF@rm Projects and WebF@rm Operations teams continually develop web applications to support these processes.
Ronald Bosch is responsible for the project team in the Web Systems department. “We typically work on about 35 different projects simultaneously, with a total of around 200 Java EE application deployments per week. Test deployments, integration tests, user tests and acceptance tests play a critical role in managing this deployment process.”
In many cases, the weak spot in the development process is the transition of developed code from one phase to another.
“When I joined KLM, we were facing problems and errors in over 70% of all software deployments. The development and deployment teams used an in-house automated software deployment environment that had limited functionality,” said Bosch. “Managing this environment still required a lot of manpower, which was not only inefficient but also prone to errors. We clearly needed a more powerful system to help us reduce repetitive work, boost productivity and improve quality.”
KLM chose XL Deploy, an Application Realease Automation solution from XebiaLabs. XL Deploy automates and accelerates Java and .NET deployments in cloud and middleware environments such as IBM WebSphere, Oracle WebLogic and JBoss.
Of course, there are more classes of enterprise applications than mobile applications and their backends. This experience, though, is driving a customer and end user expectation of seamless and continuous improvement across the board of all your software services.
Using XL Deploy, developers and system administrators can prepare their code for deployment with only a few mouse clicks.
“Normally, deploying an application in the target environment is a highly administrative activity. Although scripts can be used to help simplify the work, the process remains sensitive to errors, needs constant updating and requires very specific expertise,” said Bosch. “With XL Deploy we were able to automate the deployment process end to end. It has made us less reliant on specialists because deployments can be performed easily by developers and system administrators.”
The ability for developers to support around 200 Java deployments a week in a “self service” model has clear benefits for KLM, according to Bosch. We must be able to deploy the EAR files for a project as well as configure other middleware systems such as web servers, security proxies and XML firewalls. For us, the ability to do this across different products in an integrated manner is a huge advantage.”
Another benefit is a shorter turnaround time. By eliminating the waiting time caused by errors during deployment, KLM has been able to shorten the turnaround time for major projects by several weeks. An analysis by KLM showed direct savings of 25 hours for smaller projects and up to 150 hours for larger projects. The payback period for the investment in XL Deploy was less than a year. The net result is an annual savings of $1 million and a 20% increase in application time to market, according to Bosch.
Bosch concludes: “Deployments can be repeated more readily in other environments. Deployers do not have to spend as much time on administrative tasks and can focus more on the interesting aspects of their job. On top of that, we are now able to make better use of our expensive acceptance test systems. With XL Deploy, we focus more on developing advanced online functions for our internal and external customers.”