Monday, February 9, 2015

Can't Live With Them, Can't Live Without Them - CRSs That Is...

The Vital Power Plant

The technological center of a hotel chain is the Central Reservation System or CRS.  It is the keeper of all reservations, modifications, and cancellations.  This system then communicates with the Property Management System or PMS to pass critical guest information to a particular property.  Over the years, subsequent systems such as CRM, loyalty, and financials have surrounded themselves around the CRS.


When did it all start?

The first Central Reservation System came online in 1965 and is still in production today.  The average age of major CRSs today is anywhere from 25-49 years old.  These pre-internet systems should be commended for their ability to function in the internet age, but fall significantly short in their ability to quickly react to today’s demanding business requirements.  


What happened?

As a plethora of systems attached themselves to the CRS, it caused the ability to advance and improve the system to become hampered.  A changes to the core system triggered more changes to the attached systems.  Traditional waterfall application development, risk aversion, and lack of a service based architecture, drove decades of functionality lock in and complexity.  Eventually, the goal was to look for other ways to bring features and functions forward, but do not touch the core.  Today, every major hotel chain is operating a legacy based system and trying to figure out how to modernize their systems without destabilizing the running business.  


Where does this leave us? 

The capacity demands placed on current CRS’s continues to grow.  For years, throwing more hardware at the issue often abated the onslaught of availability requests.  Caching solutions were also put in place.   Often times, throughout the day, CRS performance degrades and availability requests get turned away.  Data models of yesterday are very rigid and require significant application work to make changes.  As reservations come through various retail channels, the belief is the data store has to be centralized to maintain inventory control.  Until now.


Distributed Reservations Systems

"All the forces in the world are not so powerful as an idea whose time has come." - Victor Hugo 

Cloud based technologies now provide the ability to run the application and data store in a distributed configuration.  The future of reservation technology resides in this configuration.  From a global perspective, inventory can be dispersed and rule based verifications can occur as inventory is managed globally within milliseconds.  Above Property has built such a platform.  A platform that has been benchmarked at 100,000 tps with 50 ms response times.  Distributed Reservations Systems is an idea whose time is now….  

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