There's been lots of talk about cloud computing going vertical, and a recent example illustrates the point perfectly: Xerox, which has moved aggressively to offer cloud computing, has unveiled a service geared specifically to airlines.
Called AIRS, the service is based on an alliance with AvFinity LLC, an Austin, Texas-based provider of hardware/software messaging systems for airlines. Indeed, the name AIRS refers to the AvFinity Integrated Router Solution, a Cisco Integrated Services Router outfitted with AvFinity's software, which translates information from the proprietary systems that airlines have used into a single format.
Up until now, AvFinity has focused on small, regional airlines like Mesa Air Group and Canadian North, where its software replaces multiple older aviation messaging systems with single systems carrying flight-plan data, weather information, fueling details, and other staples of aviation routine to other carriers and to agencies such as the Federal Aviation Administration, the Transportation Security Administration, and US Customs and Border Protection.
By hooking up with Xerox and putting its AIRS systems to work with that vendor's cloud infrastructure services, AvFinity can scale up, reaching more and bigger airlines. Xerox will get first-mover advantage in a vertical that's been hitherto relatively free of cloud services. (Some telecom providers are reportedly considering getting into aviation information clouds, but information is thin on the ground.)
But there is a big need for cloud services in aviation, Xerox claims. "Airlines can now leapfrog to the cloud to expedite their communications and do so at costs much lower than maintaining existing mainframe systems," said Ken Stephens, Xerox's senior VP of cloud services, in a statement.
Presently, both companies are holding details about the AIRS cloud close to the vest. No customer names are available, though both Xerox and AvFinity plan to officially roll out the service at the 2012 Regional Airline Association conference in Minneapolis May 21 through 24.
The new Xerox/AvFinity offering may not be fully "cooked," but it illustrates the value that cloud services can bring to specific verticals. Not only can legacy systems be consolidated and replaced, but information can be shared faster by more participants and sites. Expect more in this vein.
— Mary Jander , Managing Editor, Internet Evolution