Many customers receive messages from Sabre as standard XML based on the Open Travel Alliance (OTA) standard. Others still connect over the same private links they used in the past, including teletype, X.25 connections, and an old UN/EDIFACT (United Nations Electronic Data Interchange for Administration, Commerce, and Transport) standard. This mix of new technologies and legacy systems has proved challenging in many ways.
"We sent our TPF and assembly language programmers to C++ school because we thought that object-oriented methodologies wouldn't be difficult for people so experienced in the application," Richmond says. "The result is that we made some of the common errors that novice object-oriented programmers make and did some other stupid things. Now, we've had to go back over it all and do a better job."
Richmond says Sabre also learned over time that someone has to have an end-to-end view of transactions in order to ensure that infrastructure and application developers will work together to troubleshoot customer problems. Still, many challenges still lie ahead in Sabre's ongoing SOA efforts.
"We have substantial transactions through our Web services gateway," Richmond says. "Do we push all the way off TPF or continue investing in TPF for the parts that run effectively there? What we do with SOA is very much tied to that decision. We also have a lot of mom-and-pop travel agencies that are not necessarily interested in Web services and airlines with international locations [that are] still using 386 systems over 2400-baud lines. Our strategic vision is there, but the rate at which we get there is in flux based on these business realities."