A conversation with Laks Krishnamoorthy, Director at Sabre Holdings
- South Lake, Texas USA
- Travel solutions with technology
- Products & Systems Delivery
- # of people who unofficially use Confluence
- # of people who will be using Confluence once it's officially rolled out
- # of Confluence spaces
Spread throughout the globe in over 45 countries, Sabre Holdings is on a mission — to connect people with the world's greatest travel possibilities. Consisting of three companies (Travelocity, Sabre Travel Network, Sabre Airlines Solutions), Sabre Holdings supports travellers, travel agents, and travel suppliers by solving travel solutions with technology. Starting off by building the first computer reservations system, Sabre Holdings continues to deliver sophisticated, cutting-edge travel solutions in today's world.
Why did you choose Confluence?
We've been using a lot of collaboration tools here at Sabre and, actually, within the company there are a lot of other groups who already use wikis. One day, when I represented one of the enterprise units, the request came in to make sure we had a tool for collaboration that didn't require much learning. We were looking for something easy to use across the web with all the basics of collaboration—where people could add notes and blogs and one with the security that could be tied to our IT directory and Netegrity Site Minder. It was just a matter of time before we decided "okay, let's just all concentrate on Confluence." Mainly because it was a supported product and it's a very well known product.
How long have you been using Confluence?
Almost 6 months now, but the Airline Solutions Group has been using it for a couple years.
"...teams are using Confluence as their 'religious' portal. They're putting everything in it..."Laks Krishnamoorthy, Director at Sabre Holdings
How do teams within Sabre Holdings use Confluence?
There are different uses of it. Some teams use it strictly for uploading materials and just as a communication vehicle, while other teams are using Confluence as their "religious" portal. They're putting everything in it for their teams—their project plans, their rosters, the status of their nightly builds. These groups automated that process so that it feeds into our Weekly Report automatically. Our architecture team uses it fully to publish our enterprise architecture documents.
How many people are using Confluence?
Right now we have around 2,000 users. Our idea is that everyone in Sabre will eventually be using it. That's around 10,000 users in 45 countries.
When will Confluence 'officially' be rolled out to everyone?
We will roll it out gradually. When more people start putting information inside Confluence, people will definitely start using it. As we see the number of users increase we have a plan to talk about what a wiki is and how we should use it as a communication vehicle. We're holding off from the big rollout until after we've learned more about how the current users are using the system. Then we can extend those lessons learnt to other groups.
"Those existing users were communicating with their teams and their team members logged in and used it, so it's more about how Confluence spread organically."Laks Krishnamoorthy, Director at Sabre Holdings
2,000 users is a lot for an unofficial rollout. How did they learn about it?
First we started with a couple spaces. And then, as we started putting in the spaces, more people heard about it and they wanted spaces. Those existing users were communicating with their teams and their team members logged in and used it, so it's more about how Confluence spread organically. The learning curve is very, very short and the user experience has been very positive.
With one-fifth of the company already using Confluence, do you feel it's time to start that gradual roll-out plan?
No, I wouldn't say so. Instead we're just going to let it grow from word-of-mouth right now. Even today people from London want to know how they can get onto the wiki. They want their own space. Every time someone asks for a space or login, I'm assuming that there are 10 or 12 additional people who will be using it as a part of their team. I don't anticipate that it will stop.
If someone wants to join Confluence, how do they sign up?
Through word-of-mouth people know who to contact directly. Otherwise, we have a Confluence admin and we also have a target email account that is monitored by this admin group.
I heard there is a space designated as a Sabre Holdings "university"?
Yes there is. New employees can login to learn about our products and see what we do, especially on the travel-side of the business. It acts as a university where people have courses, where they're given a learning session with a PowerPoint presentation, where they learn what's going on.
Explain how you've customised Confluence by adding a single sign-on feature.
One of the reasons we selected Confluence was because it was possible to adapt it to our environment. We have a written a filter that talks with Site Minder and Site Minder talks with our active directory. It provides us with the credentials of users who have logged in as long as the session's valid. So, what we've done is that we've intercepted the login module of Confluence and said "don't look at this login module, but use our login Site Minder." This means it looks for the Site Minder header and if the header is not there it forces it to the Site Minder login page. Then it ties the user credentials to the user id.
We don't create the users automatically, which means that not everyone in our active directory used Confluence today. It's only when they've been logged on to Confluence the first time that we find out who they are and what they do. It's from then when we map the users based on certain groups that we have. We create their account and then every night we go through our active directory and see the changes, policies, and groups and then move the users accordingly for the group.
"My favourite feature is the ease of use... It's why people are adapting to it so easily."Laks Krishnamoorthy, Director at Sabre Holdings
What's the best Confluence feature?
My favourite feature is the ease of use. It's the biggest thing I've seen compared to other products. It's why people are adapting to it so easily. We like the editor where they added the multiple users, editing, and the possibility of merging. And Confluence autosaves every 10 minutes, that's awesome.