Delta Air Lines hires IBM for hybrid cloud

Delta jet
The airline industry has been hit hard because of the Covid pandemic. (Delta)

Delta Air Lines hired IBM in a multi-year agreement under which IBM will transform Delta's computing environment to run on a hybrid cloud architecture built on Red Hat OpenShift. The goal is to enable a consistent environment across Delta’s private and public clouds.

Red Hat OpenShift is IBM’s container-based software to build cloud infrastructure.

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Dee Waddell, global managing director for IBM Travel & Transportation, said IBM has had a relationship with Delta Air Lines dating back for many years. He said this new contract is for multiple years, although he didn’t specify exactly how long.

Waddell also didn’t confirm whether Delta Air Lines uses IBM Cloud - IBM's own public cloud service. He said most large companies use multiple public clouds. He stressed that this new deal with Delta is really about bringing the Red Hat OpenShift platform to provide consistency across Delta’s public and private clouds.

“Hyperscalers have very specific processes that work within their clouds,” said Waddell. “This allows an open approach that you can leverage in a similar fashion in a hybrid or multi-cloud environment. From this perspective, yes, they can use IBM Cloud, or they can use any cloud. That’s the differentiation that IBM brings.”

"This long-term project will apply the power of IBM's hybrid cloud approach, enabling Delta to develop applications once and deploy them anywhere, integrate security across the breadth of their IT estate, and automate operations with management visibility," said Mark Foster, SVP for IBM Services, in a statement.

IBM's engineers are also working with Delta to use other IBM cloud software to modernize existing applications and co-create new solutions.

Waddell noted that the airline industry has been hit hard because of the Covid pandemic with demand down more than 60% around the world. “Forward-thinking carriers are finding ways to strategically transform," he said. "We see Delta as one of those global carriers that is focusing on the future and transforming their business, even during a pretty difficult time.”

Although IBM couldn’t confirm whether Delta uses IBM Cloud, it did point to an announcement from 2017, stating that American Airlines uses IBM Cloud.