How Do Data Centers Drive the Tourism Industry

By Christopher Neil
Christopher is the Senior Program Manager at Microsoft. 

"I am Groot!" shouts the big tree looking dude. Guardians of the Galaxy is a semi-recent instant cult classic that I was fortunate enough to watch for free on a recent flight from Phoenix to San Francisco (don't call it frisco). Watching movies on a flight is taken for granted these days just like getting a “taxi” to your hotel using an app or sliding your hotel card “key”, technology is enabling the world to travel seamlessly while away from home. Let’s take a closer look at some of the ways data centers truly impact the tourism industry.

Before leaving on a trip, even a last minute one, there’s a fair bit of planning that goes into it. Outside of the normal “what clothes am I going to bring” or “do I have the right size toothpaste to get through security” questions, are things like “what should we see when we get there” and “where’s the best places to eat”. Now, you might say that all of those questions are a simple click away on my phone or computer but those devices are merely windows into the petabytes of data sitting in a data center somewhere. What about the cloud you might ask? The fact remains is the cloud is simply another data center; it's not magic although the seamless services the cloud providers offer would give that illusion. Today's trends are seeing technology driven companies move to a hybrid data center which is to leverage both their own data centers along with cloud in an effort to make the user experience as enjoyable as possible. One of the major factors in that enjoyment is a fast application. 

Making the app respond faster with the information that the user on the move needs and needs NOW continues to be the major challenge for the industry. Whether your customer is simply going to San Francisco or Brussels or Singapore, the slower the application is to answer those burning tourist questions, the more likely the customer will use a different app. So how do we as tech companies ensure our applications are the fastest in their category? Some of it is as simple as getting the data physically closer to the users while scaling when the demand is on the uptick. Depending on the strategy, that may be building out a 5Mw colo in a growing region, installing an appliance in a controlled environment to cache that data such as an airplane or by leveraging the cloud all over the world.

Not too many tech companies have gone 100% into the cloud and no company should be in just a single cloud provider as by doing so will put the company at risk since outages occur; they're just part of doing business on the internet. Diversity is resiliency so keeping your data center portfolio options open ensures your applications are up and available to your customers when they need them. This level of diversity is the hybrid data center strategy; it means spreading your applications and services across your on-prem facilities as well as various cloud providers in the multiple regions which will ensure the highest levels of availability. You will need to determine if your apps require that level of continuity since there's a cost to such a data center strategy. Weigh the options, evaluate the risks, and study the ROI but we all know in the end the goal is to keep the revenue flowing. 

Before we continue, I thought I'd let my wife read through and see if what I'm writing makes any sense. You see, she's a real consumer of technology but doesn't have a care or concern about how the window she holds in her hand magically displays her favorite website, app, or game. Between her phone and tablet, she has all the info and entertainment she needs when we're away from home. The difference is that the above concepts on how the information came from some datacenter somewhere never even occurred to her. The light comes on, she asks a few questions, and we're on the right track. Onward and upward!

Once we land in San Francisco, a friend picked us up from the airport and off we go. We hit the hot spots like Buena Vista for Irish Coffees then Fisherman’s Wharf and of course the proverbial picture overlooking the Golden Gate Bridge all the while navigating traffic using online mapping software and posting to all the different social media sites and both of which rely heavily on data centers. While touring the city, we bought tickets for the baseball game that night as well as checked into our flight for the following day which both rely heavily on? You guessed it, data centers. 

I then sit back and realize this experience was all possible through Expedia’s data centers. The shopping, the research, the price comparisons, the reservations, the bookings, the itinerary, the check-ins, the updates, the assistance, the emails, the notifications, and the reviews allowing for a great weekend get-away were all enabled because of data centers; the data centers that I’m directly involved with the inner workings. It is very surreal to say the least.

Finally, with the weekend coming to a close, we get ready to board our return flight to Phoenix. I can't help but appreciate the huge impact data centers have been on tourism, making planning a snap, keeping that info readily available, and a spontaneous trip more fruitful. It's not magic, it's always about a data center somewhere. It's that simple. "I am Groot!”.

Note from Chris: As a new member of the IDCA Technical Standards Committee, I’m excited to join such an incredible team of professionals and am committed to play an impactful role in the industry. The breadth of my experience allows me to help liaise between each layer of the IDCA application ecosystem along with the seven efficacies, ensuring services are highly available. My career focus has long circled around core systems availability. In IDCA terms, that would be the middle layers with the Compute and ITI. Over the years, this has expanded to include facilities which is SFI, Site, and Topology layers. I’ve also spent a considerable amount of time in the application capacity management space, tying in the remaining levels of Platform and Application giving a complete approach when evaluating and solutioning services. 

Christopher Neil is the Senior Program Manager at Microsoft. His role involves working with the Microsoft Azure team as a partner service evaluating data centers for opportunities.


  1. At their core, data centres are large physical facilities that house data processing computers. Though often overlooked, the impact of data centres is enormous. The IoT platform played a keen role in interconnecting the physical devices and helps in exchanging the data between them.


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