Cathay Pacific builds trust in cloud as IT reorganizes

Lawrence Fong, General Manager, IT, Cathay PacificCathay Pacific has recently adopted hybrid cloud to help re-position its 600-strong IT shop into a customer-oriented applications development house.

In early 2016, Cathay Pacific's ageing IT infrastructure and applications reached a tipping point where problems surfaced in many dated and aged IT infrastructure. A lot of its IT staff were called to upgrade and re-platform the airline's OS, databases and network. "There were just too much to manage," said Lawrence Fong, general manager, IT at Cathay Pacific.

Fong spoke about the airline's cloud adoption experience at the AWS Summit Hong Kong 2017 last month, under the topic "The Transformation Journey with Cloud Technology."

Cathay Pacific was dealing with no ordinary IT legacies. "There were many legacies in our airline applications. Some of them have been running even before you and I were born," he told  journalists at a subsequent media interview.

Yet the airline needed to deal with "newer IT stuffs" at the same time, such as to support Apple Pay on its mobile platform. This triggered cloud adoption at Cathay Pacific.

"No" to cloud 4 years ago

"A long time ago, it was our direction not to adopt cloud computing," Fong said. Four years ago, Cathay Pacific started to adopt private cloud within its data center. But it still had difficulty to manage all its IT legacies.

In explaining explained Cathay's earlier resistance to cloud adoption, Fong said, "cloud computing was not that mature back then, in terms of security, scalability and cost. In the past several years, we saw Amazon Web Services (AWS) released hundreds of new products and features each year. Prior to that, it released just one to two new services each year."

"Not only that, we also had to ask ourselves whether our internal staff were ready to make the paradigm shift [following cloud adoption]. In the past we had technical engineers who used to work with machines and screwdrivers, now they need to be reskilled into software engineers who define parameters and rules online for the cloud environment."