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Senegal Airlines

This high quality, exponentially-growing airline relies on secure and reliable Cobweb Hosted Exchange Services and Cobweb BlackBerry Services for critical global email communication and archiving.

Customer Profile

Industry: Airline/Travel
Business Start Date: 2011
Number of Employees: 230
Services with Cobweb: Microsoft Exchange & BlackBerry Services

With Headquarters in Dakar, Senegal, in the very west of the African continent, Senegal Airlines has established itself in a very short period as a high quality, reliable airline in West Africa. Focused on three fundamental values – quality, flexibility, and innovation – Senegal Airlines’ first flight operations took place in January 2011, with a route structure that includes much of West Africa.

The delivery of additional Airbus 320 aircraft will provide the airline with the infrastructure to continue its expansion to central Africa and beyond.

The airlines strategy for continuing expansion is also dramatic: Senegal Airlines has positioned itself to become an Ambassador for Africa, planning to become Africa’s leading Airline and helping to build Dakar International Airport into a primary transportation hub, connecting international passengers with Africa, South America, and Europe.

The airline’s expansion plans follow that strategy, with new routes to Central Africa planned in 2011, with international flights to other continents as early as 2012.

The Challenge

Senegal Airlines Chief Information Officer Andy Guenthard has long recognised the critical nature of email communications for the airline, and the challenges that it faced.
"Due to the nature of our industry, and the many tasks that our staff undertakes, email is critically important," Guenthard explains.

"Flight crews are notified of rosters using email; our technical and maintenance personnel are sent technical drawings with email; and our customer services teams use email to communicate with Senegal Airlines’ passengers and travel agents regarding their bookings."

However, Senegal Airlines was faced with some major challenges. "When we originally started the airline, we were using local email services, and staff’s personal email accounts due to a lack of internal infrastructure and skills".

Needless to say, a professional, reliable email service was needed urgently to sustain the Airlines explosive growth during the start-up phase and beyond.

"By definition, and as an airline, we’re global. We communicate with vendors, customers, and potential alliance partners all over the world. The Airline needed to find a state-of-the-art email solution that could be deployed quickly. Also, it had to be easy to manage.

While we try to source local Senegalese nationals and skills for the company, the critical nature of our email infrastructure made us realise that we needed to outsource our requirement. At the same time the hosted solution would enable us to gradually build up our skill set.

"Additionally, any new solution would have to be cost-effective and flexible enough to be scaled-up quickly to meet new staff expansion requirements. It would also have to be reliable while minimising network issues."

Finally, Guenthard notes that email archiving was of critical importance. "In the past, management and staff would store email on their personal or work laptops and PCs." However, in the event of an equipment failure or theft, emails would be lost. "We needed a solution that would archive staff email including attachments, thereby providing a history of email communications."

Senegal Airlines management embarked on a search for a hosted email solution to meet its specific requirements. "Initially, we used the Internet to research possible providers," Guenthard notes. "We came up with four possible vendors to meet our needs."

Vendors were then shortlisted to two. "We had received a very strong recommendation for Cobweb Hosted Exchange and BlackBerry email solutions. On the basis of that recommendation, we delved deeper into the Cobweb solutions."

During that discovery process, Senegal Airlines management talked to Cobweb, but found that a face-to-face meeting was unnecessary. "We were looking for a virtual solution that worked,"Guenthard explains. "We’re based in Senegal, thousands of miles from Cobweb’s offices.

All we needed to make a decision was to be provided with enough information about the Cobweb solutions to have confidence in them. Based on our discussions with Cobweb personnel, that’s exactly what happened.

"Price was also an important consideration. While Cobweb was not the least expensive, it was cost-effective. We made the decision to go with Cobweb solutions."

The Solution

Today, all 230 Senegal Airlines staff uses Cobweb Hosted Exchange email services. "Senegal Airlines has a wide number of locations. At Dakar, we have our operations centre, commercial, and sales offices. We also have 12 airports served by the airline. Our truly global work force has now the benefit of using reliable Cobweb Hosted Exchange for their email."

Senegal Airlines personnel can access email using a variety of platforms. "A day without email is a lost day, and Cobweb Hosted Exchange provides a reliable platform," Guenthard states. "Airline management uses Cobweb BlackBerry Services.

All of our other staff use Cobweb, and can access the 24/7 Hosted Exchange services via Android/iPhone handheld devices or their laptops."

Cobweb Hosted Exchange now provides Senegal Airlines personnel with all critical email and relevant attachments.

"Flight crews receive their rosters, flight planning, and post flight reporting via Cobweb enabled email; our commercial department communicates to travel agencies. And our technical people use Hosted Email Exchange to conduct critical work.

"For instance, we’re currently taking delivery of a new aircraft. Our technical people are in Shannon, Ireland conducting some technical work. Critical technical specifications are easily despatched to them from our Technical Director in Dakar, who also needs to be involved and informed at all times."

Guenthard notes that Cobweb Hosted Exchange provides the inherent flexibility the airline requires to match its plans for continuing growth. "The ability for the Cobweb solution to grow as we grow was one of our primary selection criteria. We can do this very quickly by adding new accounts and mailboxes quickly and without interruption.

Two, we can quickly modify the storage space to match individual requirements. Some personnel within the airline won’t require much storage space. Others will require a great deal. We can quickly re-allocate storage in order to optimize the use of that storage resource while also minimizing cost."

By matching storage requirements to individual needs, Guenthard is also confident of Cobweb Hosted Exchange’s ability to meet the airlines’ email and document archiving requirements.

"Secure archiving of emails and attachments is critically important. Storing such vital information on personal laptops or PC’s is risky. Cobweb Hosted Exchange provides email archiving as part of the solution, and is a perfect place to store such data.

"This archiving capability is crucial to us. It provides the airline with a complete email communications history. If we lost that today, it would be a real problem because we’d also lose that history."

Guenthard highly recommends Cobweb Hosted Exchange and BlackBerry Services, and for a variety of reasons. "Most importantly, Cobweb Hosted Exchange reduces complexity from an IT management perspective.

It provides stability because I don’t have to deal with servers going down, or power cuts that affect those servers. Our staff simply needs to access the Internet to use Cobweb Hosted Exchange.

"And if we do encounter an issue, the Cobweb Helpdesk is very responsive to our needs. For instance, we recently had a document corruption issue, and the Helpdesk resolved it very quickly.

"Cobweb Hosted Exchange and BlackBerry Services are reliable, cost-effective, stable, easy to manage, and provide the flexibility to meet our growth targets. And importantly, the knowledge of its reliability and the confidence that I have in it means that I can sleep at night."

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