Qantas Upgrade Includes Replacing PCs With iPad-Friendly Virtual Desktops

Qantas Upgrade Includes Replacing PCs With iPad-Friendly Virtual Desktops

Qantas has laid out an aggressive technology migration plan that could become an example for the airline industry.

Last week, we reported on the IT migration that Australian airline Qantas was undertaking. That migration and overall technology upgrade includes replacing the airline’s 1,300 BlackBerry handsets with iPhones, swapping hefty pilot flight bags for iPads, and adding an on-demand entertainment system to is fleet of Boeing 767 aircraft that’s accessed using iPads provided to each passenger.

It seems that the migration strategy is even bigger than just those three components. The airline is also looking to overhaul its desktop systems as part of an upgrade to Microsoft’s Office 365 cloud suite. The migration will be completed in partnership with Fujitsu and will include both on-premise and cloud data stores as well as virtual desktops courtesy of Citrix. 

One challenge raised by the plan, which was hammered out over six months of negotiations, is that Qantas will need to upgrade its aging computer systems. Those systems are largely PCs running Windows XP that aren’t suited to Office 365.

Rather than simply replacing those PCs outright, Qantas intends to use virtual desktop options from Citrix to deliver a Windows 7 desktop experience to its staff. Although the company didn’t give details of its virtual desktop plans, it’s quite possible that they include delivering a Windows 7 desktop or virtual application experience to iPad and iPhone users using the Citrix Receiver app – presumably without the licensing challenges that OnLive ran afoul of with its OnLive Desktop app for the iPad.

According to ITNews, Qantas expects the upgrade to appeal most to its 11,000 cabin crew members. Whether that means by way of an iPad/Citrix experience or other devices like notebook PCs wasn’t specified.

The company is planning an initial virtual desktop pilot project this fall. If successful, it will roll out to 40% of the workforce by mid-2013 and eventually to 80% of its staff.

Qantas is planning an enormous upgrade to all its key systems. That’s an immensely challenging strategy considering that they’ll be rolling several new technologies out simultaneously. On the other hand, if the airline executes its plans successfully, it will be positioned as a model for the rest of the industry.

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About the author

Ryan FaasRyan Faas is a technology journalist and consultant living in upstate New York who has written extensively about Apple, business and enterprise IT, and the mobile industry. In addition to writing for Cult of Mac, he is a contributor to Computerworld, InformIT, and Peachpit Press. In a previous existence he was a healthcare IT director as well as a systems and network administrator. Follow Ryan on Twitter and Google +

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