Ryanair goes all-in on AWS – with machine learning capability cited as key

James has more than a decade of experience as a tech journalist, writer and editor, and served as Editor in Chief of TechForge Media between 2017 and 2021. James was named as one of the top 20 UK technology influencers by Tyto, and has also been cited by Onalytica, Feedspot and Zsah as an influential cloud computing writer.

The AWS Summit, in London, has seen a few pieces of news emerge – including a new customer and new functionality – with machine learning at the heart of it.

The cloud infrastructure behemoth announced Ryanair will be going all-in, with the Irish-headquartered airline set to close 'the vast majority' of its data centres in the coming three years. This includes moving from Microsoft's SQL Server to Aurora, Amazon's MySQL and PostgreSQL-compatible relational database engine.

Ryanair said machine learning, from gleaning greater data insights to improving the customer experience, was 'hugely important' to its growth. Amazon Lex, the technology underpinning Alexa announced as a general service at re:Invent in 2016, is being used by the airline on a trial basis.

"Because we have the most comprehensive set of cloud services, including our leading machine learning and deep learning services, Ryanair will be able to employ those services to drive greater customer and employee satisfaction," said Mike Clayville, AWS VP worldwide commercial sales in a statement. "We're excited to help them create first-class experiences on AWS as they continue to use our capabilities and services at an acclerated pace."

On the product side, AWS announced a new machine learning competency for consulting partners in the AWS Partner Network (APN). The move is an extension of the competency for APN technology partners announced at last year's re:Invent, and aims to match customers with the most qualified partners who have to have shown 'technical proficiency and proven customer success' with AWS machine learning tools. Launch partners include Accenture, Deloitte, and ECS.

Going back to Aurora, another release which may provide blessed relief to database admins is Backtrack, essentially a system restore – up to 72 hours, at least – for production databases if a fat finger incident occurs. The feature can be enabled at launch time for all newly-launched Aurora database clusters, with AWS chief evangelist Jeff Barr proclaiming it to be 'as close as we can come, given present-day technology, to an 'undo' option for reality.'

Users can pause their application, select the appropriate cluster, click the backtrack option, choose the appropriate point in time, and go from there. "You then wait for the rewind to take place, unpause your application and proceed as if nothing has happened," wrote Barr. "When you initiate a backtrack, Aurora will pause the database, close any open connections, drop uncommitted writes, and wait for the backtrack to complete. Then it will resume normal operation and be able to accept requests."

AWS also added that Marketplace, its software supermarket, is being used by 1,400 ISVs and more than 170,000 enterprises respectively.

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