Cloud-Based Solution for Hotels Gains Five-Star Speed, Throughput With eXtremeDB In-Memory Database System (IMDS)
March 6, 2013 — When it comes to requiring fast performance from hotel technology, the most demanding users may not be vacationers or business travelers, but rather the vast global distribution systems (GDSs) used across the travel industry to check rates and book reservations. Munich-based Hetras GmbH meets this challenge by deploying the eXtremeDB® In-Memory Database System (IMDS) from McObject ® within a sub-system of its Cloud-based Hotel Management System that is specially designed to satisfy these automated “users.”
Until recently, hotels and chains handled their own IT functions such as operations, customer service and marketing. With its technology launched last year, Hetras replaces hotels’ on-premises systems with a 100% Internet-based software-as-a-service (SaaS), available from any Web browser. Customers pay a flat monthly fee to use this solution, eliminating significant hardware, software and support costs.
Given the hotly competitive, multi-billion dollar industry that Hetras targets – with companies eager to gain market share by providing a superior customer experience, such as faster check-ins and flawless accommodation of mobile users – the company expects rapid, sustained growth in demand for its service.
This makes scalability critical. Hetras achieves it, in part, through effective use of virtualization with VMware’s hypervisor technology. Processing in the SaaS is divided across virtual machines (VMs), which handle specific application functions and are individually optimized. Fast, efficient data sorting, storage and retrieval is also key to providing a positive customer experience, and for this Hetras integrates multiple database solutions, including traditional enterprise database management system (DBMS) software, Web object-caching technology (Microsoft’s AppFabric), and McObject’s eXtremeDB IMDS.
eXtremeDB was chosen for an especially performance- and data-intensive hotel management system feature: the quote server application, which handles all requests for room availability and pricing. “In a hotel reservation environment, there are approximately 70,000 queries (e.g. ‘what do you have available from Monday to Wednesday and what does it cost?’) for every one completed reservation. Rate/availability lookups are complex queries, and demand high performance,” Hetras CEO Keith Gruen said. “If a person needs to wait more than 5-10 seconds for the answer to his reservation query, he’s going to switch to another Website and the hotel will lose his business.”
In addition, “most rate/reservation queries are not done by humans but by machines,” Gruen explained, referring to the Global Distribution System networks used by airlines, travel agents, Web sites and other high volume sources of travel bookings. The GDSs demand an even faster response than human users, Gruen said. “We have been certified by the major GDSs (Sabre, Amadeus, Worldport and others) and they told us that we had the fastest response time of any hotel system they have certified. We achieved that response time with our quote server, including eXtremeDB, running on non-optimized hardware in the basement of our office, long before we had moved our infrastructure into a professionally hosted data center,” he said.
eXtremeDB delivers the needed performance through its core in-memory database system (IMDS) design, which eliminates the caching and I/O-related overhead that is hard-wired into traditional DBMSs. In addition, by running within the application process, eXtremeDB also avoids inter-process communication (IPC) latency inherent in client/server database systems.
eXtremeDB provides Hetras’ technology with fast access to data stored in memory, which is similar to the role played by object caching. But while object-caching solutions require complex data views to be generated in advance and stored in memory, eXtremeDB’s rich computational features support on-the-fly execution of such queries. This enables the Hetras system to offer a richer user experience, including 3-D presentation of available lodgings. Two other key differences between eXtremeDB and object caching solutions are that eXtremeDB is transactional – multiple database operations can be grouped into units that succeed or fail together, protecting data integrity – and eXtremeDB’s transaction logging feature supports database recovery.
“Over the last 12 months, as Hetras’ technology rolled out with customers worldwide, we have scaled up and out various parts of our architecture. eXtremeDB has stood out for handling a rapidly increasing query load with the highest degree of resource efficiency. So far, we have never needed to increase the horsepower on our eXtremeDB server. The application that relies on eXtremeDB has never been a bottleneck, even though it handles very demanding tasks. Hetras made the right decision in using eXtremeDB in the hotel management system,” Gruen said.
“To its users, a successful Cloud-based solution functions as a classic black box: data goes in, data comes out, and nothing could be simpler. But the engineers creating the code know that within that black box, the IT challenges are many and varied. Hetras’ approach to data management in its SaaS illustrates the kind of diversity of solutions often needed to ensure a seamless customer experience. McObject is pleased that its eXtremeDB In-Memory Database System has helped to meet one of the hotel management system’s critical database challenges,” McObject CEO Steve Graves said.
Hetras is the first company to build a fully cloud-based application for hotels and global chains of all sizes. Particularly suited for the new generation of hotels with a high degree of automation, the Hetras hotel management software combines property management system (PMS) with powerful distribution and channel management into a unified application. The product is offered on a SaaS basis, meaning that hotels pay an all-inclusive flat fee per month per room. Built from the ground up for the Internet generation, Hetras offers a refreshing new user experience and users only need a tablet or browser with a standard internet connection. To find out more about Hetras or join the Hetras mailing list, visit www.hetras.com.
Founded by embedded database and real-time systems experts, McObject offers proven data management technology that makes applications and devices smarter, more reliable and more cost-effective to develop and maintain. McObject counts among its customers industry leaders such NSE.IT, Financial Technologies of India Ltd. (FTIL), BAE Systems, Siemens, Philips, EADS, JVC, Tyco Thermal Controls, F5 Networks, CA, Motorola and Boeing. McObject, based in Issaquah, WA, is committed to providing innovative technology and first-rate services to customers and partners. The company can be reached at +1-425-888-8505, or visit www.mcobject.com.
McObject and eXtremeDB are registered trademarks of McObject LLC. All other company or product names mentioned herein are trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective owners.