For this diversity of airline business models, a monolithic platform doesn’t really meet their needs, as the component applications within the legacy systems are not necessarily a good fit or very customizable. Many planning teams have found that they have to develop workarounds and manual processes, pull data from various places into Excel to run analytics, ending up with a piecemeal solution that goes against the unified idea that an all-in-one suite promised. This costs a lot of time but more seriously can lead to significant costs due to errors or data security issues.
The job these planning teams have is the creating the essential “DNA” that drives the profitability and efficiency of the airline operation. They schedule flights for destinations and hubs based on a complex process of maximizing commercial potential within myriad operational, crew and fleet constraints. Optimizing what, when, and where to fly at the right time is the very lifeblood of the entire operation. Struggling with a system that wasn’t designed to be flexible to their needs adds a lot of time and risk in an environment that has gotten a lot more dynamic and immediate, even as the resources available to do the work has been reduced at many airlines.
More recently, a trend toward purpose-built, best-of breed software has emerged that offers smaller-scale, agile solutions designed to adapt to the needs of each type of airline while providing easy integration with all the other systems that rely on the schedule data. Today’s modern cloud-native architecture has the flexibility, data interfaces and lower overall cost to help decrease the overhead and provide customizable automation that CIOs want in their digital transformation initiatives.
Founded in 2014, Zulu Airline Systems offers a cloud-based Software-as-a-Service(SaaS) platform designed for airline scheduling teams which facilitates network planning, scheduling, slot management, data analytics, optimized routing, fleet assignment, and publications. Because the legacy vendors continue to depend on an outdated all-in-one software design, Kevin Woods, founder of Zulu, envisioned a way to introduce an advanced software-as-a-service platform with a best-of-breed design focused on the planning team’s needs. As Woods puts it, “The technology has evolved far beyond the 1990s era legacy systems’ technology capabilities. The business models have diversified to the point that the all-in-one systems are too rigid to be a good fit while the integration of best-of-breed systems has gotten quite easy.”
Our distinction from an industry perspective is to eliminate the struggle airline planning groups have with a reactive user help desk and replace it with 24x7 access to Zulu’s proactive customer success team to assure they get the most value out of the software
Today, Zulu provides a customizable platform with the flexibility to meet the unique needs of large to small hybrid airlines and low-cost carriers(LCCs). With the cloud-native architecture, the platform is economical for smaller teams but can also scale up to the needs of large airlines. With cutting-edge cloud solutions, Zulu makes scheduling fast, with all the data and tools to optimize demand-driven changes. It includes slot management, 80:20 monitoring and all IATA standard publications. The high-speed Mongo database and data interfaces assure single-truths synchronization, easy integration with all other systems, and highly secure backup and recovery. The platform carries out analytics with the Know business intelligence(BI) engine that works with MongoDB for generating quick, up-to-date reports and dashboards. The platform also adopts the industry leading Gurobi optimization engine for fleet assignment, maintenance and crew rotations, and gating constraints.
Zulu is showing the way with best-of-breed cloud technology to replace outdated all-in-one systems. Data integration has been a big barrier with legacy systems,usually requiring a months-long project by a team of IT resources. With new technology, Zulu can quickly set up data exchange and validation using an API, SFTP or SITA protocol. Zulu customers are in production in 1-3 weeks.
In addition, Zulu has a 24x7 customer success team available to provide support and best practices consultation as part of the SaaS service. This philosophy of proactive customer service was described by Gerald (Gary) Bush, CEO of Zulu,“Our distinction from an industry perspective is to eliminate the struggle airline planning groups have with a reactive user help desk and replace it with 24x7 access to Zulu’s proactive customer success team to assure they get the most value out of the software.”
Best of Breed not only means customizable solutions that fit each customer’s needs, but it also means a high value support model to ensure that customers are successful.