Amadeus, seeking to punctuate its commitment to the U.S. airline market, is finalizing a decision on whether to open a data center in the U.S., according to industry sources.
There was conflicting information about how far along Amadeus is in the decision process.
One industry source says Amadeus has already made the decision to open a U.S. data center in the 2012 to 2014 timeframe, although final determinations about where precisely to locate it and whether to build it from scratch or to buy an existing facility have not been made.
The facility would be the primary data center for U.S. airline customers and would serve as a back-up to Amadeus’ existing global data center in Erding, Germany.
The massive Erding data center, which handles more than 370 million transactions per day, currently uses redundant in-house systems to handle back-up responsibilities.
However, another source says Amadeus has not fully signed off on the decision to open a U.S. data center, but is taking a hard look at the possibility.
The decision to open a U.S. facility and to build “an American Amadeus,” as one source puts it, makes a lot of sense for Amadeus, which is a leading global distribution system and airline IT provider, but has yet to place a U.S. airline customer on its Altea passenger services system platform.
Amadeus had signed an Altea deal with United Airlines several years ago, but United pulled out, leaving Amadeus without a U.S. airline customer.
And, it's been tough trying to gain a foothold ever since.
Dwayne Ingram, who heads Amadeus’ Airline IT and distribution business from the company’s Chicago office, declined to confirm or deny whether Amadeus has decided to open a U.S. data center.
But, Ingram says Amadeus, after studying the experiences of SAP, Toyota and even prior efforts by Amadeus itself to enter the U.S. market, has reshaped its strategy.
Among Amadeus’ tactics, Ingram says, the company has decided to put “infrastructure” in the U.S. market, and hire local people to work with Amadeus staff from overseas who have been brought in.
“We need a regional view of the business,” Ingram says.
“Putting all of these things in the market is a conscious commitment of big resources,” Ingram says.
Ingram says discussions with U.S. airlines contributed to an Amadeus decision to place infrastructure in the U.S. market and then to build customers around it -- rather than taking the opposite tack.
Placing a data center in the U.S. would not go unnoticed by Amadeus’ U.S.-based GDS competitors -- namely Sabre and Travelport -- as well as its rivals in the airline IT business.
Not only does opening a U.S. data center show potential customers that Amadeus is serious about growing some U.S. roots, it may also ease any security concerns or even contractual mandates that customer data should reside in the domestic market.
Opening a data center in the U.S. fits in with Amadeus' new regional strategy.
Over the last few years, Amadeus has grown its IT and consulting business in Chicago, hiring some well-known U.S. airline IT executives, to supplement a development team in Boston and the GDS staff in Miami.
Ingram says that as part of Amadeus’ regional strategy, it will develop exclusive U.S. products for its U.S. airline customers.
Disclosure: Some of the reporting for this story occurred at the Amadeus Horizons 2010 conference in San Francisco. Amadeus paid this writer's flight and hotel expenses for the conference.