Impeccable housekeeping and extraordinary customer service are the traditional marks of a four-star hotel. For many, internal IT operations receive that same level of attention.
So when hotels get the urge to merge, establishing and executing technology integration and consolidation plans to maintain the mounting data volumes and connectivity become critical.
Facing just such a situation was Interstate Hotels & Resorts Inc., which was established when three companies merged over a four-year period ending in 2003. At the heart of the consolidation was the need to integrate three data centers in Dallas, Pittsburgh and Washington.
Rather than merely link the data centers, the nations largest independent hotel management company set out to create a central operation center for the data centers and their 120 servers in an effort to drastically reduce its IT operations and spending.
Although the data centers featured some similarities—they all ran Microsoft Corp. software platforms, including Windows 2000 and Windows NT, with a bit of Novell Inc. products mixed in—the hardware installation was a different story. Each center used its own systems, resulting in a hodgepodge of Dell Inc., Hewlett-Packard Co., Compaq and IBM systems and components.
"In the hospitality industry, you spend your money very frugally, and so whoever has the cheapest price we turn to," said Rajiv Castellino, vice president of hospitality technology at Interstate Hotels & Resorts, in Arlington, Va. "Basically, each of these [three companies] had their own data center, their own rules and their own equipment, and dealing with that was a problem.
"Its so much easier to manage by getting everyone under the same umbrella, so we decided to consolidate all into that one corporate office here in Arlington," Castellino said.
Since the Washington data center belonging to Interstate Hotels & Resorts had standardized its IT framework onto IBM servers, laptops and desktops, the hotel management company asked IBM Global Services to help it acquire the right modular storage system.
IGS got the responsibility to facilitate the transaction, and after examining the playing field, Interstate Hotels & Resorts chose storage offerings from IBM partner Network Appliance Inc. for the project.
"We defined what our business functionality needed, what was important and what we would be able to achieve without losing any data along the way. That is how we determined the platform. Then it was a matter of migrating everything here and sitting it on one big box; that is the NetApp box," said Castellino.