SAN FRANCISCO – June 1, 2016 – Riverbed Technology, the application performance company, today announced that Flight Centre NZ (Ltd), part of Flight Centre Travel Group, is using Riverbed solutions to accelerate the performance of its business-critical applications and empower employees to more effectively meet the growing demand for its travel services. Flight Centre has deployed Riverbed® SteelHead™ appliances, the industry’s #1 WAN optimization solution, to accelerate application performance by 30% to support its participation in Travel Expo events and improve productivity at 42 of its permanent retail storefronts.
Flight Centre currently operates more than 200 retail stores and businesses nationwide, making it the largest and most well-known travel retailer in the country, with over 1,200 staff across a range of brands serving leisure and business travelers. A cornerstone of New Zealand’s economy, the tourism industry employs almost 7% of the country’s entire work force. In the next decade, this sector is expected to grow to more than NZ$41 billion, a 37% increase from today. “We’re in a ‘Golden Era’ for travel at the moment in New Zealand, in the last 12 months we’ve seen a number of new airlines choose to fly to New Zealand and there have been 19 new routes announced, this has made travel more affordable and accessible than ever before," said Angus Armstrong, CIO at Flight Centre. “Riverbed is helping us capitalize on that.”
Flight Centre originally engaged Riverbed to provide performance solutions for its Travel Expo events held around the country. During these events, travel experts not only need access to all the applications they use in-store, they also need uninterrupted access to high-definition video to show potential customers footage and virtual tours of hotels and destinations. In addition to these high-demand applications, there was a large and unpredictable amount of print traffic – primarily from large PDF-format travel documents – when travel experts made bookings.
Accelerating Offsite Travel Exhibitions
The successful implementation of Riverbed SteelHead at the Travel Expos improved performance and optimized traffic, increasing the network’s ability to support travel experts by 30%. This has had a significant impact on the Flight Centre business, as the Expos are the nation’s largest travel shows. “Since we put the solution in place, we’ve reduced bandwidth by 30% and print traffic by almost 90%, which means we’re able to have 50-60 additional travel experts at the events, as well as a more productive workforce because of the performance improvements across the board.”
Improving In-store Performance
Having seen the efficiency gains at the Travel Expos, Armstrong tested SteelHead WAN optimization at five storefronts. These stores saw immediate benefits during the test phase, reducing bandwidth used up to 35% while improving performance, leading Armstrong to deploy SteelHead at 40 of Flight Centre’s branches, with plans to implement up to 40 more.
Flight Centre computers all run Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) from a centralized server hundreds of kilometers away from the retail branch, making optimal WAN performance critical to the business. Any delay in data transferred across the network slows the entire session – not just one application. Armstrong said that with SteelHead, he has reduced traffic at least 30% across Flight Centre sites, increasing application speed by 30% as well. This has had the added benefit of stabilizing performance when there are unexpected spikes in print demand.
Removing Guesswork with Greater Visibility
The optimization of Riverbed SteelHead, together with the visibility of Riverbed SteelCentral Controller for SteelHead – key components of the Riverbed Application Performance Platform – has also greatly simplified application troubleshooting.
The SteelCentral Controller for SteelHead provides visibility into how applications are performing. Reporting metrics such as traffic levels, application throughput performance, and TCP session flow characteristics provide visibility to help diagnose problems and maintain control over application infrastructure. This allowed Armstrong and his team to identify precisely how much bandwidth each application and device uses, giving him greater control over application performance.
“Riverbed’s solutions give me a clear picture of what applications are being used, more than just from the ports or traffic on a router, but from the performance of the actual applications. I can see which applications are taking up the most traffic and, if it’s taking up more than it should, I have the ability to diagnose and solve that problem on-the-go so it helps me keep our travel experts more productive, which in turn keeps customers happy.”
Increased performance, combined with greater control, gave Armstrong the confidence in the network to test video-conferencing platforms for staff training, as well as explore other potential uses for video-chat for customer engagement – an application that was previously too demanding to even consider.
Riverbed SteelHead and the Riverbed Application Performance Platform™
The Riverbed Application Performance Platform™ gives CIOs end-to-end visibility, optimization and control across an entire enterprise. A key part of the platform, Riverbed SteelHead is the industry's #1 optimization solution for accelerated delivery of all applications across the hybrid enterprise. SteelHead provides increased visibility into application performance and end-user experience and the ability to ensure business performance SLAs through an application-aware approach to hybrid networking based on centralized business intent-based policies.
About Flight Centre
Flight Centre (NZ) Ltd is New Zealand’s largest travel agency, with approximately 1,200 staff in more than 200 retail stores and businesses nationwide. Flight Centre consultants are the travel experts and are selected for their vast product knowledge and their passion for travel. Flight Centre’s global network allows consultants access to the widest travel product offering in New Zealand, at the best value. Brands in the New Zealand market operated by Flight Centre (NZ) Ltd include; Flight Centre, Cruiseabout, Student Flights, Travel Associates, FCm Travel Solutions, Corporate Traveller, cievents, Stage and Screen, Infinity Holidays, Travel Money NZ. The company has won the IBM Kenexa Best Workplaces, large workplace category award for eight years. In addition and in recognition of Flight Centre’s continued achievements in the IBM Kenexa Best Workplaces Survey over the past ten years, Flight Centre is also a Five-Year League Award recipient and a Ten-Year League Award recipient. Flight Centre Limited globally has almost 13,000 staff in 13 countries including Australia, New Zealand, the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Ireland, South Africa, Hong Kong, India, China, Singapore, The Netherlands and Dubai.