by Bonnie Gardiner

Digital tourism agency fast-tracks new listing platform with DevOps

Mar 04, 2016
Cloud ComputingCollaboration SoftwareData Warehousing

The Australian Tourism Data Warehouse (ATDW) has used a DevOps methodology in the cloud to create a new centralised listing platform.

The ATDW is the national platform for digital tourism information on Australia. The introduction of ATDW-Online will better connect and promote the tourism industry by offering all operators access to its advanced digital marketing capability.

ATDW is collectively owned by all state and territory tourism organisations, and the new online platform replaces eight different legacy systems owned and managed by individual state offices. The database supports almost 40,000 listings across 10 product categories, and is published by over 150 online distributors, websites and apps.

In particular, the platform is expected to greatly benefit the tens of thousands of small ‘mum and dad’ travel operators with limited access to digital marketing resources.

“We wanted something easier for the entire tourism industry to get full use of – from the large operators, right down to the ‘mum and dad’ style operators in outback NSW. Now they can get their product loaded and distributed nationally and internationally in a very simple format,” Mark Williams, chief executive of ATDW told CIO Australia.

ATDW-Online went live on February 22, starting with just Tourism Australia listings, followed by a staggered state-by-state roll-out.

“In that first week with just Tourism Australia, we had 1.6 million API requests, 350,000 consumer page impressions, and 1,800 users logged into the system. So with just one main operator logged on, it went from a walk to a sprint very quickly,” said Williams.

New capabilities include copywriting services, translation services to address the Chinese market, a set of syndication options (APIs, white label web-app and widgets), and access to advanced big data analytics and reporting features.

The ATDW engaged digital marketing and consulting company, SapientNitro, and managed cloud service provider, Rackspace, for the roll out of DevOps – a concept aimed at improving interaction between app developers and IT operations staff – as well as cloud infrastructure.

The platform leverages SapientNitro’s digital capabilities, with an Agile delivery model and ‘Lean’ approach to drive features.

“It was all very consultative, and that’s been quite refreshing. There haven’t been any surprises along the way,” said Williams. “It was all openly declared and the structure was very visible through the entire process.”

Using DevOps enabled ATDW’s developers to focus on delivering software upgrades while the Rackspace team deployed the environment.

As ATDW’s team was in eight different locations across multiple time zones, SapientNitro used collaboration tools such as video conferencing and interactive whiteboard technology to integrate this group into the Lean user experience portion of its delivery model.

“By adopting a culture of DevOps and utilising cloud based services, [we have] been able to achieve a noticeably faster time to market for the client by minimising regressions, eliminating waste and concentrating on quality across the board,” said Stephen Forth, SapientNitro’s Brisbane lead.

The project has resulted in the downsizing of the ATDW’s development team, though tourism operators will be offered continued first-level support through their local ATDW branch, along with access to the SapientNitro support desk for more complex issues.

“This new upgraded platform is the result of an exhaustive program of work. The investment in both time and money ensures that Australia’s Tourism industry has access to a world leading piece of technology, which will serve us well in the years to come,” said Williams.

“We are genuinely excited about what the platform is going to allow us to do and there is no doubt that the industry is going to love the fact that we have focused on making it easy.”