How Gulf Air is Building Private Cloud for Big Data Innovation

The Kingdom of Bahrain’s national carrier realizes its social media monitoring ambitions without additional hardware investment

Red Hat, Inc., a global provider of open source solutions, has announced that Gulf Air, the national carrier of the Kingdom of Bahrain, has created a private cloud IT environment with Red Hat solutions.

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As part of this project, Gulf Air has deployed Red Hat Enterprise Linux, Red Hat JBoss Enterprise Application Platform (JBoss EAP), and Red Hat Storage as the platform for its innovative big data solution, Arabic Sentiment Analysis.

Established in 1950, Gulf Air is one of the Middle East’s first commercial airlines and today it is a major international carrier, with a fleet of 28 modern aircraft serving 39 cities in 22 countries across three continents. The company prides itself on offering traditional Arabian hospitality and is committed to being an industry leader in developing products and services that reflect the evolving needs and aspirations of its passengers. In the age of social media, that also entails monitoring and analysis of online conversations about Gulf Air.

Gulf Air has developed a sentiment analysis solution based on big data technologies that is capable of addressing social media posts in both Arabic and English for Arabic Sentiment Analysis. The solution is based on an open source Hadoop big data framework running across a server cluster in Gulf Air’s private cloud environment and using Red Hat products including Red Hat Enterprise Linux, JBoss EAP, and Red Hat Storage.

Gulf Air’s private cloud encompasses 200 servers running more than 100 core applications and holds more than 50 terabytes of data. The scalability that Gulf Air achieves in this environment with Red Hat solutions provides sufficient capacity to host the big data solution, which in turn helped Gulf Air avoid additional infrastructure investment including hardware expenditure.

Today, Arabic Sentiment Analysis processes social media posts and provides easy-to-understand reports on what customers are saying about Gulf Air. Gulf Air’s IT team also uses them as the basis for a wider analysis of the state of the market and actions taken by their competitors. Big data projects can come with a hefty bill, but Gulf Air believes that the Arabic Sentiment Analysis has been delivered cost-effectively, thanks in part to the company’s enthusiasm for open source solutions.

Dr. Jassim Haji, director of information technology, Gulf Air, explained, “As an airline, it is crucial to know what our customers are thinking. We want to know who is satisfied with Gulf Air’s service, who is not and why, and what Gulf Air can do to improve its services to passengers. The big data solution deployed is an open source one, which meant no special license fees to pay, while the infrastructure where it runs is based on our existing open source-based cloud environment and virtual servers, which meant no hardware investment was required.”

Speaking about this development, Ranga Rangachari, vice president and general manager, Storage and Big Data, Red Hat, said, “Gulf Air is a fantastic example of a global customer that is solving business challenges and embracing the potential of big data with open source solutions and Red Hat. Using open, software-defined storage as the basis of their big data platform and private cloud offers Gulf Air a more cost-effective, scalable, and flexible environment that can meet their existing and future needs. We’re thrilled to collaborate with them to enable their big data success.”

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