Global Airline Outage – One Vendor Chaos

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Vendor and supplier management is amongst the most boring topics to explain to your spouse, in-laws, and friends when they ask “What exactly is it that you DO for a living?”

It is always great to have a real life example to help. Today’s apparent failure causing chaos nationwide is PERFECT. Many birds, one stone.

A company, Amadeus, has successfully innovated and created a platform for airline operations that many airlines have adopted. Not surprising actually since user friendly and airlines have rarely been expressed in the same sentence.

Apparently this morning there was a problem. A large one. One that affected most/all airlines using the system. Reservations, kiosks, gate agent operations, et al.

In June 2016 I snapped a photo of Amadeus in action at AUS. It was in stark contrast to the text screens that agents used in decades past. Note the ability for multiple airlines to share one gate. Awesome. If it works. ALL the time.

Questions

  • Disaster Recovery? – Amadeus? Airlines? Why are passengers affected when a single vendor fails?
  • Regulators – Is it acceptable for a single vendor to be allowed to substantively disrupt airport operations globally?
  • Attackers – Want to inflict max chaos and disruption to critical infrastructure? A single vendor may all you need to target.
  • Protectors – Do you trust your vendors? Based on what evidence?