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Ryanair invests in NoSQL mobile platform to boost customer experience

Matthew Finnegan | March 26, 2015
Ryanair is upgrading its mobile reservation platform using Couchbase's NoSQL database, allowing it to offer offline functionality to customers via its smartphone app."

He told ComputerworldUK: "I won't say we had issues with the previous system — the reservation system is very good at reserving seats for customers, checking them in, managing inventory and stuff like that. But with the new approach that Ryanair is taking, we want to be more customer-facing, and while it does support use profiles, it can't support things like single sign-on."

Navigating booming NoSQL market

With the fast-expanding market for NoSQL databases, there were plenty of alternatives to meet the company's need for non-relational technology. However, Couchbase was seen as the best fit, predominantly for its flexibility and scalability.

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"After doing a lot of research on different database solution. We realised that NoSQL would be a better fit for us in terms of flexibility and scale," he said. "We looked at several different options — MongoDB, Cassandra and each had their own distinct features — but Couchbase ticked more boxes than everybody else, especially in terms of mobile first. "

More traditional SQL relational databases would not have met requirements either.

"In terms of scale and cost probably not," said Sheridan. "But the biggest thing was flexibility. We have huge UX team and every day there is a new idea put forward. A relational database wouldn't have worked for us: the deployment alone would have crippled us in terms of schema releases."

Going live

The mobile platform plans are quickly developing, and there are plans for it to go live in production towards the end of the year, having begun a proof of concept in the middle of 2014.

"We are not going to go with a big solution, we are going to release it on a piecemeal basis," Sheridan said. "But by the end of the year we will be in pretty good shape to deliver what the business wants for 2016."

The plan is to provide increase the number of features available via the firm's smartphone such as restaurant and activities information, and more.

"Another one of the things, is a fare comparison feature integrated into our search results and Couchbase will play a huge part in that," he said.

He added: "All of that involves building out an enterprise level caching platform and implementing a caching strategy. Not only in the reservation system but across the entire web platform. It will really help us in terms of performance but it will help us add new features as we go and move towards the end of the year."

The mobile project also provides another function, offering a testbed for wider use of NoSQL technology within the company.


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