CASE study: Jumeirah Group
Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS), while some line of business applications are offered in the form of Software-as-aService (SaaS). The private cloud covers most of the apps and services for internal users and customers, and the Jumeirah Group will continue to expand the capability of its cloud. According to the firm, the cloud project and its future is also linked strongly to its global MPLS network, which it has been talking about for a couple of years now. “We have done extensive work in upgrading our wide area network here in the UAE and migrated all legacy circuits such as ATM, E1s etc to an MPLS ring and some of the sites are lit using our own fibre optic cables. Currently we are working with global service providers to upgrade our international network from an Internet based IPsec VPN to a managed private MPLS network. This is progressing quite well and we intend to complete this before the summer of this year,” says Dashti. According to him, the planned MPLS network will be the primary transport vehicle that carries business critical applications from the various data centres to the group's global sites and end users. These two sets of infrastructure complement each other and for the firm this from the foundation that will support future growth.
Just the starting point For the hospitality giant, the network and the cloud is no stopping point. In fact, the firm is working on IT to constantly improve it and make it increasingly relevant to the business that it supports. “2011 is another exciting year for us. We plan to open eight properties in six different countries, including China and Germany. Each opening is a project on its own. We will continue our infrastructure improvement initiatives and enterprise application projects, and we will add two exciting customer facing technologies this year as well,” says Dashti.
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“One exciting project we are working on at the moment is deploying public telepresence rooms in our business hotels. This advanced video conferencing technology will allow our guests to meet even if they are not in the same place. These telepresence rooms will also connect to other managed telepresence room providers around the world making it easy for our guests to find a telepresence room where we currently don’t have a hotel operation,” he continues. Dashti adds, “Also a strategic Jumeirah IT goal has been to continue the personalised customer service to guests electronically, whether through television channels, mood settings conveyed through lighting or the ability to control the climate in the room. Expanding on this we are working on a new guest technology platform that will allow guests to access the hotel services through a multitude of devices including iPads, iPhones, BlackBerrys and other personal devices. These systems will allow us to deliver seamless services to our guests based on their preferences.” Being a global company that is home grown comes with its own pros and cons for the hospitality giant. “We have over 100 nationalities working for us in Dubai and that means we have local knowledge about many
places around the world. Our biggest expansion is in the Middle East and Asia, and having our systems close helps us to roll it out quicker. Likewise, being a global brand means that the IT team is under immense pressure to keep any new technology simple and easy to understand because customers come from different backgrounds and have different language sets, so we try to keep things intuitive. As part of our IT strategy we focus standardising core IT infrastructure and systems, which helps us deliver consistent services in different parts of the world,” explains Dashti. He adds, “The downside of being a home grown brand that has global operations is the cost of telecommunications. Currently the cost of connectivity is quite high, especially in comparison to other regions where our competitors are based out of. We are actively engaging and working with local service providers to improve in this area. We participate in the customer advisory board of the local telecom operator.” Jumeirah Group, and its IT team, continue to face their challenges head on, and prove that when a team works seamlessly, and you have management support, there is not much they cannot do to overcome the obstacles that they face in organisational growth.
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