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Delta Taps IBM to Move More Applications to the Cloud

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Delta Air Lines Inc.

on Thursday said it signed a multiyear contract with

International Business Machines Corp.

to help the carrier move most of its data and applications to the cloud.

The companies declined to disclose the value of the contract, which runs through at least 2024. The agreement calls for IBM to help the airline migrate applications to—or, in some cases, help rebuild applications for—cloud-based servers run by tech providers of Delta’s choosing.

The deal also calls for IBM to train more than 1,000 Delta IT workers in how to operate in cloud environments, including helping them develop skills related to application development, data management and security.

The migration will involve hundreds of software applications, including Delta’s flagship “Fly Delta” mobile application, its internal contact center software, baggage tracking system and more. It doesn’t include Delta’s enterprise resource planning, or ERP, software which at least initially will remain based on servers owned and operated by Delta.

Rahul Samant, Delta Air Lines executive vice president and CIO.



Photo:

Delta Air Lines Inc.

The deal will accelerate a cloud-migration plan Delta started in 2018 that was originally expected to take about 10 years, Delta’s Chief Information Officer

Rahul Samant

said. He said Delta’s objective now is to complete that effort, which entails having at least 90% of its applications and databases in cloud environments, by 2024.

“We were going to do it on a very opportunistic basis, versus now, this is like a real program,” Mr. Samant said. “We’ve got a mission, we’ve got a partner, we’ve got a timeline,” he added.

Running data and applications in cloud environments—as opposed to on-premises servers—will help Delta reduce tech-related outages, deploy new applications or features quickly and access artificial intelligence tools only available in the cloud, among other benefits, Mr. Samant said.

IBM has been trying to boost its growth partly through a greater focus on hybrid cloud computing. In that vision, thousands of companies would migrate to the cloud in the coming years, while keeping some equipment in-house. These companies also are expected to use multiple cloud providers and data centers, creating opportunities for IBM to manage the complexities of that setup.

“We are certainly working considerably across this industry,” said

Mark Foster,

senior vice president of services at IBM, noting cloud-related deals with companies including

American Airlines Inc.

Referring to the Delta deal he said, “what we’re doing here around the full application modernization, this is one of the more comprehensive.”

Chirag Dekate, an analyst at Gartner Inc., said Delta is among a range of companies that are moving to the cloud to give IT teams a unified platform to develop, deploy and maintain applications.

“Organizations that do engage in these journeys will certainly be positioned to capitalize on the growth momentum that companies will experience at the end of Covid,” he said.


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Big tech firms are investing in data centers as they compete for the $214 billion cloud computing market. WSJ explains what cloud computing is, why big tech is betting big on future contracts. (Originally Published Dec. 2, 2019)

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