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Qantas Dumps Fujitsu, IBM, Telstra For “Niche Providers”

Qantas is streamlining its technology operations, dumping three large, longterm partners, and teaming with “niche providers” who provide “depth over breadth”.

Group CTO Michael Ross, who joined the company during the pandemic, has been tasked with the “bold” reinvention.

Speaking as part of an Orro Group webinar, Ross confirmed the changes.

“We have felt through the course of the last two years within Qantas Technology that there’s been an opportunity to think about simplifying and untangling a lot of the legacy, given we’re a 100 year old business, and re-evaluating some of our partners,” Ross said.

As part of this, they have dumped IBM, who has been a partner for 30 years, Fujitsu, a 15-year partner, and Telstra, who had been with Qantas for 30 years.

Telstra’s corporate contract with airline ended last December, and was not renewed.

Qantas have, instead, signed a five-year deal with TPG Telecom, who will add a new, fibre network that will provide voice and data carriage services across Qantas’ head offices and airport terminals in all capital cities.

In addition, Qantas is transitioning on-premises into the cloud with AWS, and moving connectivity from Telstra to a combination of Equinix, connected via NBN, and managed via Orro.

“The reason for [the changes] is we are trying to find the right partners that have depth over breadth,” Ross explained.

“The consequence of the last few years is it’s allowed us to really think about how we reshape technology within the business, and really think about the prioritisations and the partnerships. That’s allowed us to really think about leaning into the MSPs [managed services providers] for that depth over breadth.”

Fujitsu

Ross praised IBM, Telstra and Fujitsu, while acknowledging their usefulness has dwindled.

“All of those organisations have been tremendous partners with Qantas for a number of years, and the partnership has been astounding,” he said.

“I think typically if you look at some of what Qantas was trying to do 10 years ago, there are only certain organisations in the world that could actually service what we needed, and the IBMs and particularly from a connectivity perspective the likes of Telstra were the only organisations that we could partner with, and again the service was phenomenal.

“I think, though, when you’re in technology and you have a partnership that sometimes spans multiple decades, it is sometimes appropriate to reflect on the relationship and challenge whether or not that relationship can come to a natural end, and if there’s a possibility to kind of reimagine how you move forward.”

The pandemic accelerated these decisions. The technology team has shrunk from 500+ to just 170.

“Within our business, with several hundred million dollars of spending on technology, we had a fairly high fixed cost base, and so we really challenged ourselves in terms of thinking about how we untangle from legacy, how we could simplify and remove customisations and bespoke things that we did, and how we could build more of a standard capability and a standard offering,” Ross said.

“It’s been really impressive to see how seamless the changes have been.

“Sometimes there’s a nervousness when you find these niche providers that they may not have the scale to support either escalations or what the operational impetus that you currently have.

“But if you look at the underlying tech and the backbone and capability of the likes of Cisco, NBN, Equinix and all these others that make all these things work together, it really is incredibly robust.”



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