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Riverbed Helps Flight Centre Accelerate Applications

Riverbed Technology, the application performance company, has announced that Flight Centre NZ (Ltd.), part of the 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 optimisation 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 business 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 travellers. A cornerstone of New Zealand’s economy, the tourism industry employs almost 7% of the country’s 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 capitalise 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.

The successful implementation of Riverbed SteelHead at the Travel Expos improved performance and optimised 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.”

Having seen the efficiency gains at the Travel Expos, Armstrong tested SteelHead WAN optimisation 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 centralised server hundreds of kilometres 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.

Read the official press release from Riverbed here.

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