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Set to fly

Infrastructure architect Phil Dalbeck tells us how Dell helped travel company Skyscanner ensure it always has a reliable, scalable digital prescence

Every month, 65 million visitors use Skyscannerwebsite and apps to find great deals on flights, hotels and car hire. As well as the most competitive prices, every one of these customers expects a quick, fuss-free, intuitive user experience. Maintaining a reliable digital presence is central to everything Skyscanner does.


This need for reliability has come more and more into focus as Skyscanner, the world’s fastest-growing travel search site, has expanded. A couple of years back, it became clear the company needed to look beyond employing a hosting firm to manage its website. Skyscanner took a strategic decision to deploy its own data centres at key sites in the UK and Singapore. Whatever data-centre solution it employed needed to be robust and scaleable so that it could be employed worldwide.

Crucially, any provider had to be able to offer local support in different territories. “As a web-based company, we rely on powerful data-centre systems to support millions of unique user sessions every day,” says Phil Dalbeck, infrastructure architect at Skyscanner. “We wanted to make a fundamental change and move from a third-party supplied compute capacity to our own highly optimised platform. We needed great technology and a partner we could trust to support our operations in different countries. That partner would provide fast, efficient local support and standardised equipment in multiple regions worldwide.”


This was a tough brief. However, working at Dell’s Solution Centre in Limerick, Dell and Skyscanner collaborated on a proof-of-concept that brought together Intel®- based servers, storage arrays and networking in a single Dell Converged Blade Data Center. To cut through the jargon, the idea was to come up with a robus data- centre solution that could bequickly deployed at sites across Skyscanner’s organisation. The work was successful and Skyscanner settled on a standard configuration for its multiple sites. Skyscanner’s Phil Dalbeck is delighted with the results. “We continue to rapidly scale our platform to cope with ever-growing user numbers and new product offerings,” he says. “I see the Dell Converged Blade Data Center as a great way to support that expansion. We have gained a flexible server, storage and networking solution in a single chassis, simplifying management and reducing cabling. We needed high-speed components. Each EqualLogic blade array comes with 3.7 terabytes of SSD accelerated capacity, which makes it an extremely efficient, scalable and high-performing storage solution.”


The on-site data centre has helped Skyscanner cut its costs. That’s partly because of Dell’s inclusive licensing, which includes support fees as part of the solution. In addition, Skyscanner can also download software updates without incurring extra costs. “The combination of moving to Dell Converged Blade Data Centers and Dell’s inclusive licensing will help us reduce costs by one third over three years,” says Phil Dalbeck.For Skyscanner, it’s a priority to build expertise in managing the data centres within the company.

For this reason, the company opted for the Dell IT Advisory Services three year enterprise plan, which offers proactive reporting and analytics for each of its data centres from IT Advisory Services. “We’re continually learning how to get the best from our solution due to the support we get from Dell experts,” says Dalbeck. “The knowledge transfer is a huge bonus.” Finally, for those rare moments when things do go wrong, Skyscanner chose Dell ProSupportwith Mission Critical four-hour response. In the event of a hardware issue, a technician is on-site within four hours. “We have a single point of contact and a clearly defined escalation procedure with Dell ProSupport. This gives us confidence that if something goes wrong, it will be resolved quickly,” says Dalbeck. “Regardless of the location of our Dell Converged Blade Data Centers, we get the same high level of support from Dell. We don’t have to worry about negotiating with multiple service partners or vendors across the globe.”

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