1 explained the key features of legacy, client-server architecture and its
inherent limitations. For part 2, Shiji Group’s Anthony Hunt explains the benefits
and opportunities of using microservice hotel PMS architecture.
to microservice architecture
Hotel guests have certain
expectations. They might want to be able to check in from their phones or order
dinner via an app. And hotels would love to offer these services, as customer
satisfaction is fundamental to hospitality. Yet, more often than not, hotels
are unable to properly serve their guests solely because their outdated systems
do not have the capability to integrate new features as each extra layer of
customization would need to be hard-coded in the database or in the client
Most hotel software is made of a big, messy chunk of code, where
each line is so interdependent upon the other that it becomes nearly impossible
to innovate without breaking the whole system down, hence the industry’s
inability to adapt to the new market needs.
With the microservices approach,
by contrast, you have multiple small programs that are completely independent
from each other yet linked together by rules written in the APIs. Therefore, as long as the API’s rules are followed, a microservice-based system
could be maintainable and improvable indefinitely without the risk of
annihilating the whole system at each update.
Operationally speaking, the risk
of a bug’s domino effect is contained by the microservice architecture’s own
decentralization – if one application gets an update or goes down, it does not
affect the whole structure. The whole ecosystem becomes resilient, and it is
much easier to isolate errors and recover from system failures.
The increased adoption rate
of APIs in the hotel industry has
played a crucial role in the shift from monolithic to microservice hotel PMS
architecture. APIs are central to this more flexible, decentralized approach as
they simplify the act of programming and increase the possibility of
This independence grants
developers the freedom to code without the need to fully comprehend the
programming language used for the core system. Programmers working on
integrating a singular feature from a third-party application, for example, do
not have to understand the whole file system, programming structure and
language, and they can simply focus on getting specific information to solve a
specific problem. Microservices compartmentalize functionalities while
monolithic centralize them. In other words, microservices compartmentalize
potential problems while monolithics centralize them.
hotel PMS architecture and data protection
Hardly a single day goes by
without some news about data breaches. The travel industry has always been
vulnerable to data violations, mainly because (unlike most industries) in order
to properly function, it needs to collect an enormous amount of customer information
and the value of that data is correlated to the hotel’s ability to serve
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On the black market, personally
identifiable information is sold at around $1 each, but, according to
CashShield CEO Justin Lie, their value “multiplies 5x with each added
associated information.” Add a mobile number, a personal email address
and birth date to the original stolen data and its value skyrockets to
It’s not difficult to understand
that hotel databases are literally goldmines for hackers as they store a fuller,
more accurate individual profile than, for example, a web blog or a gaming app.
Hotels collect extremely valuable data, such as phone numbers, credit card
details, and, most importantly, passports. In the United States, a stolen
passport gives the possibility to virtually anyone to ask for a social security
number online and, consequently, apply for credit cards or loans.
The main difficulty is that,
because the core structure of most hotel software has been coded decades before
the rise of the web, they are simply not ready to defend themselves from online
cyber-attacks. French philosopher Paul Virilio once said, “When you invent the
ship, you also invent the shipwreck.” Back in the ’80s and for a good part of
the ’90s, with virtually no internet connection, the concept of web hacking was
simply not considered, which is why so many hotel software systems are so
defenseless when it comes to data leakage.
Today, thanks to microservice
hotel PMS architecture, developers can separate personal from non-personal data, and
choose to design around one or the other datasets based on what specific task
should be executed.
This flexibility to build
whenever possible only around non-personal data gives an invaluable advantage
to microservices software, especially when it comes to data storage
restrictions of specific countries who ask that their citizens’ information is
In monolithic architectures, data is often spread all around,
meaning that the personal data of Russian customers should be legally stored in
their country. In order to do business with Russia, the whole system should be
moved, and data can be accessed only by caching, creating a challenging (and
expensive) circle of complexity.
systems: flexibility at a bargain
Often misunderstood (or
knowingly twisted by tech companies), the primary benefit of “the cloud” has
less to do with being able to run an application from a browser and more with
the cost savings, or total cost of ownership (TCO). The direct and indirect
costs of deploying a system to the cloud are simply way lower than keeping it
on a legacy platform.
First, hotels do not have to
acquire any expensive hardware (direct costs). Moreover, by outsourcing, hotels
can benefit from the expertise and resources of the provider if and when
something goes wrong, rather than having to rely only on in-house experts for
support and maintenance (indirect costs). Cloud service providers often even
guarantee higher uptimes than self-managed legacy systems, dramatically
decreasing the risk of potential revenue loss. Merging different technologies,
moreover, becomes exponentially easier with microservices architectures.
In a nutshell, cloud
solutions (hotel PMS and POS
solutions) make scalability, growth, and sustainability possible for
businesses of any size by minimizing the need for prohibitive upfront investments
(hardware, data center setup, installation costs, etc.) and extending
applications’ life cycle.
of microservice hotel PMS architecture
It comes as no surprise that,
over the last number of years, successful companies such as Netflix, Google,
and Amazon have all moved away from monolithic architecture in favor of
microservices. Today, with new privacy laws, varied requirements, faster
technology, disruptive payments systems and ever-broadening distribution
systems, it is evident that the monolithic approach will not be able to keep
On top of that, by using a
plug-and-play approach, developers don’t have to waste time solving problems
that have already been solved by someone else. The numerous implications of the
adoption of microservice hotel PMS and other IT architecture may sound
overwhelming for some, but eventually, every company, no matter the size,
should be able to choose any tool available in the market and frictionlessly
connect it to other tools– just like they install applications on their
personal smartphone. For hotels, this could mean something as simple as
changing an internal process of the room cleaning sequence or
Technology should make it easier
to manage a business and serve customers or guests. And, when it comes to
hotels, strategies should never be determined by the limitations of their
underlying IT infrastructure, but enhanced by its flexibility. It is time for
the hospitality industry to embrace innovation, sustainability and
scalability. It is time for the hospitality industry to embrace microservice
About the author...
is vice president of product and strategy for Shiji’s global business team.