Worldspan taps IBM hardware for distribution system

Worldspan LP, an Atlanta-based supplier of Internet-based travel offerings, has selected six new IBM System z9 Enterprise Class (EC) mainframe servers to provide electronic data services that link approximately 700 travel suppliers around the world to millions of travelers.

Worldspan is using the new system to allow brick-and-mortar travel agents and online travel reservation sites to shop and book travel products from airlines, hotels, car rental companies and other travel service providers globally, via the Worldspan global distribution system (GDS), according to Worldspan.

In addition, the company is using IBM's Capacity on Demand technology to ramp up computing power on a daily basis and to accommodate spikes in travel demand -- particularly in the summer and over the Thanksgiving holidays, said David Lauderdale, Worldspan's chief technology officer and senior vice president.

"IBM and Worldspan have jointly focused on opening up the Transaction Processing Facility (TPF) operating system to fully leverage open systems-based technology, which is critical to Worldspan's global leadership position in Web-based travel e-commerce. The System z9 servers running TPF support Worldspan's expanding use of technologies such as TCP/IP, XML, Simple Object Access Protocol (SOAP) and IBM WebSphereMQ," Lauderdale said in a statement.

Using IBM's TPF software, Worldspan can process well over 17,000 customer transactions per second within the mainframe complex. That's up from around 8,000 transactions per second before the new hardware was installed, he said.

"We provide north of 60 percent of all the online transactions in the world," Lauderdale said. "To keep up with the capacity, we refresh all mainframes with the biggest, fastest [new machines], as well as refresh all the databases, the disk drives and all the fiber optic connectivity that brings it together. We did a refresh in 2001 and 2004, and here we are doing another one in 2006."