Hawaiian Airlines Windows Azure Migration

Hawaiian Airlines Moves Reservations System to the Cloud for Reliability, Scalability and to Cut Costs

Hawaiian Airlines' business depends on the availability of their website and online reservations system. Like most major enterprises, global disaster recovery and fault tolerance is a requirement for the business and a headache for IT staff to implement and maintain. In addition to the technical difficulties, maintaining multiple hosting environments to support global failover can be a very expensive venture. Working with Techmana Hawaii staff, Hawaiian Airlines recognized that the Windows Azure cloud could provide a global disaster recovery solution and solve the business’ technical and cost problems. Hawaiian Airlines successfully mirrored their on-premise web reservations systems in Windows Azure and as a result cut the cost and complexity of their disaster recovery site while increasing scalability.


With 20 destinations in over 6 countries, Hawaiian Airline's needs its’ online reservations system to be available to customers 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. A diverse and complex system is required to support airline reservations. Historically, Hawaiian Airlines online reservations system was hosted on dedicated, on-premise, infrastructure. A large data center footprint was required to host all of the systems involved and provide scalability for popular marketing promotions.

Traditional dedicated on-premise hosting infrastructure presented availability, cost, overhead and scalability issues.

Concerns About Availability

Hawaiian Airline's used a world class data center and cutting edge equipment to host their on-premise solution. However, regardless of the infrastructure quality in place to host their online reservations system, they knew that disaster could still strike at any time. City wide power failures, internet backbone disruptions and wide-scale hardware failure could still take their business down instantly if their on-premise datacenter faced a disaster.

Severely Limited Scalability

Hawaiian Airlines’ site traffic patterns can vary by as much as 10x depending on the time of day and ongoing promotions. In order to support peak traffic during popular promotions, Hawaiian Airlines on-premise infrastructure footprint needed to constantly grow to serve peak customer traffic. However, scaling on-premise infrastructure was a slow process and could not expand to meet customer demand as needed. This resulted in a slow site during popular promotions and lost customer revenue.

Skyrocketing Hosting Costs

The hosting costs associated with a dedicated on-premise hosting infrastructure were constantly growing and getting out of control. To support peak customer traffic during popular promotions, Hawaiian Airlines hosting footprint needed to be at least 10x larger than their day to day traffic patterns. On an average day, 90% of Hawaiian Airline’s hosting infrastructure sat idle. Even though only 10% of the hosting infrastructure was in use most times, Hawaiian Airlines had to pay for the hardware 100% of the time.

High IT Operations Overhead

In addition to disaster recovery concerns, the Hawaiian Airlines IT staff spent a considerable amount of time configuring and maintaining the on-premise systems. A large, complex enterprise systems footprint required extensive OS configuration, patch management, networking, hardware resource monitoring and real time operations support.

Development Staff Spending Too Much Time on Deployments

The Hawaiian Airlines web development staff required an ever growing staff to support deployment of the various systems to support online reservations. With an expanding infrastructure footprint to support scalability and on-premise failover, the development team found they were spending more time handling Production deployments and configuration than they were developing new features.

Disaster Recovery Could Multiply Overhead and Reduce Staff Effectiveness

To ensure availability of its online reservations system, Hawaiian Airlines needed to mirror its' systems in a geographically isolated disaster recovery location. However, they realized that creating another on-premise mirror of their current systems in a different geographic location would be extremely expensive, a huge burden on their IT staff and further reduce the effectiveness of their development team.


Hawaiian Airlines worked with Techmana Hawaii staff to assess the problems and determine the right solution. Techmana Hawaii staff analyzed the problems and evaluated many possible solutions, including on-premise hosting at world class datacenter providers, Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) solutions and Windows Azure. The only solution that solved all of Hawaiian Airline's problems was Windows Azure.

Moving a large complex system to Windows Azure's Platform as a Service (PaaS) architecture required a good deal of technical planning and forethought. Hawaiian Airlines and Techmana Hawaii staff partnered with Microsoft to address these challenges and leverage the vast array of Windows Azure services to support its online reservations system in the cloud.


By moving its disaster recovery site to Windows Azure, Hawaiian Airlines has significantly cut IT costs, provided dynamic scalability, reduced hosting administration for its staff and increased global reliability for its customers.

Lowers IT Costs

Hawaiian Airline’s traditional on-premise hosting was expensive and complex to maintain, which resulted in high fixed hosting costs. Windows Azure PaaS (Platform as a Service) architecture significantly cut the hosting costs associated with providing a disaster recovery site by allowing Hawaiian Airlines to run a small ongoing footprint and scale when needed.

Provides Scalability

Windows Azure’s ability to scale instantly to meet any traffic demand empowered Hawaiian Airlines to run promotions with confidence, knowing that the online reservations system could scale to meet peak demand.

Improves Staff Productivity

The Windows Azure PaaS architecture freed Hawaiian Airlines development staff from complex and time consuming infrastructure setup, maintenance and deployments. Because Windows Azure inherently handles operating system setup, maintenance and patching the Hawaiian Airlines IT staff are no longer tasked with these items, freeing them to focus on core business needs. Hawaiian Airlines development staff have taken advantage of Windows Azure deployments, enabling them to spend time developing new features to meet business needs and not babysitting deployments.

Increases Global Reliability

By running their online reservations system in Windows Azure, Hawaiian Airlines is now confident about their ability to serve customers in the event of an IT disaster. Window Azure’s ability to route traffic dynamically, scale as needed and its presence in multiple geographic locations helps to ensure that Hawaiian Airline’s systems will be available to customers when needed.

Solution Overview

Organization Size 5000 employees

Key Contributors

Jeffery Hong
CEO – Techmana Hawaii
Project architect, relationship manager, global coordination

Aaron Schnieder
Managing Agent – Techmana Hawaii
Technical architect, Hawaiian Airlines staff liaison

David Osborne
CIO – Hawaiian Airlines
Hawaiian Airlines initiative sponsor

Microsoft Consulting Services
Technical architecture, development

Hawaiian Airlines Customer Applications Staff
Requirements, project management, development

Organization Profile

Hawaiian Airlines was incorporated on January 30, 1929 under the name Inter-Island Airways Ltd. Hawaiian Airlines carries an average 8 million customers a year and serves 20 domestic and international destinations in the Pacific region. In North America, it provides daily service to Hawaii from more cities than any other airline.

Business Situation

Hawaiian Airlines wanted a cost effective and scalable disaster recovery site to ensure reservations remained available in the event of a catastrophic failure in their main data center.


To take advantage of the efficiency, cost, and reliability benefits of the cloud, Hawaiian Airlines mirrored its reservations system from on-premises systems to Windows Azure.


· Lowers IT costs—now and long-term

· Improves IT staff productivity

· Increases performance and reliability

· Provides scalability during peak traffic periods

Software and Services

· Windows Azure

· SQL Azure

· Windows Azure CDN

· Windows Azure AppFabric Cache

Vertical Industries