by March 3, 2011 0 comments

The journey of setting up the cleartrip system started four years ago, when the decision makers needed a single vendor that would provide an end-to-end solution without going through the hassle of finding compatible versions. “We looked at ROI over a long time, we looked at everything, out of box solutions, regular solutions and we decided to stick to Open Source,” said P Thomas, CIO, Cleartrip. Cleartrip had to merge the airline systems, along with the user interface. “At one time a search query should go through eight-ten airline systems depending on the parameters,” said Thomas. Since the transactions involved would be highly sensitive, Thomas needed a system that would be almost completely automated. No vendor provided closed integration he needed for his system. Open Source was considered but that would mean overreliance on either an external agency if leased or a few people within when developed.

The solution

Cleartrip didn’t use the waterfall method of implementation but the agile, thus there has been a constant evolution that started four years ago. The entire system is based on several Java applications patched together into one cohesive unit. To rule out the reliance on the same set of developers, Thomas insisted on extensive documentation and knowledge sharing. “Our technical team shared their knowledge with the business team and vice versa and all of it was documented,” Thomas explained.

The solution for the single integrated system was still pending. Thomas bridged together the airline system and the transaction system on a fluid workflow devised on Java. Thomas devised a CRM system that would be closely connected to his other systems.

“If someone wants to cancel a ticket, he encounters the Java-based booking system; this system can only generate requests but can’t cancel a ticket. The booking system is integrated with a GDS system which is integrated with a CRM system which updates the query in the airline database,” he explained. This system, he reasoned, improved the system efficiency and correspondingly the staff performance ratio.

The evolution

During the constant changes that were implemented, the Cleartrip team was the first to bring a travel website on a mobile platform to consumers. The team initially started with HTML5, then by observing customer behaviour moved to HTML4 and developed the platform for Android users. Slowly, through development and constant user feedback, the entire website is compatible with any smartphone. “Now that we are on the mobile, all our competitors are constantly trying to develop a mobile platform as well,” Thomas said. Thomas warns against lackadaisical approach to Open Source. “We took baby steps, what we were four years ago and what we are now is completely different,” he said. Thomas believed that every Open Source system needed the IT manager to trust his development staff. He insisted CIOs must accept that there will be risks that might result, occasionally, in a loss but that should be absorbed by the company in the name of development. He also asked CIOs to question their own methods and to think differently. “The best feedback is only through your customer,” Thomas said. He advised that it is best not to meddle with crucial systems. “We haven’t taken the financial system open source… every country needs a different approach to present the sheets so best to keep open source out,” he advised.

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