The cloud: massive, dense, and mysterious. Ever-changing. Always present. At SmartHOTEL, when referring to the word ‘cloud’, we do not talk about the visible mass of condensed watery vapour that is floating in our atmosphere. Instead, we think of the place that hosts the SmartHOTEL Channel Manager, a place with huge data centres where IT people get seduced by the best and freshest technology of the modern-day. It is like Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory. There is activity all over the place, and you can find sweet treats everywhere. The choice is enormous, and the possibilities are endless...
Congratulations! If you are reading this, you can consider yourself one of the lucky few with a golden ticket. We invite you to join an exclusive tour through SmartHOTEL’s chocolate factory, a place we affectionately nickname Microsoft Azure. It is one cloud amongst several competitors such as Amazon and Google. SmartHOTEL likes this factory, as it is well-connected by highways that reach locations all over the world, allowing swift transport for both the import of ingredients and the export of chocolates. Besides, access to the factory is restricted only to those with the right permissions. Even a golden ticket is not sufficient to gain access to all locked doors inside the factory. After all, we do not want unwanted visitors to snoop around the secret chocolate recipes or let them loosen a screw in the production process. Security cameras are therefore in place to immediately alert SmartHOTEL in case of suspicious behaviour, and security guards patrol the area to double-check.
If we take a step into the glass elevator and ride it to the top, we get an unprecedented bird’s-eye view of the factory. We see numerous areas, each dedicated to a different purpose. Big storage containers fill up quite a bit of the entire space, but we can also clearly see machines that do all the processing. Long conveyor belts transport the ingredients and chocolates from area to area. Empty halls on the sides of the factory seem to hint at upcoming expansions. We see tiny dots running around as well. We ride the elevator back down, and upon closer inspection, we discover that these dots are the Oompa-Loompas that are trying to ensure smooth operations in the factory.
As we start our tour, we see that several of the Oompa-Loompas have the task to distribute delivered ingredients to the correct conveyor belt. After all, we cannot allow cacao to be mixed up with sugar and milk at this point already! Although the factory operates 24/7, ingredients are usually delivered in large trucks around the same time in the morning, causing the available Oompa-Loompas to work as hard as they can. At least they will get some more rest at night! If necessary, SmartHOTEL has the power to hire more Oompa-Loompas, but it will take some time for them to arrive at the factory and they also come at a price. Just as with Oompa-Loompas, conveyor belts also have a limited capacity, and to handle more throughput, mechanics can be instructed to widen them or add new ones.
The tour follows past a highly secured vault. The secret recipes for all chocolate products are kept safe in here, and access is restricted to a select few. Even SmartHOTEL needs to identify itself twice to gain access! Other rooms we pass seem to be inactive, yet the delicious aromas emitting from one of them result in a feast for our noses. Some say they are experimenting on producing the best possible chocolate aroma by evaluating thousands of chocolates from other brands. That must be a dream job! Rumour also goes that in another room, researchers are trying to gain full insights on the human mind to find out what triggers people to buy chocolate. Results have not yet been published, but it must be more than just a broken heart!
Codes and Logs
In the next area, large machines are working at full steam. Conveyor belts are bringing in ingredients from the storage containers. Through several windows, we can peek inside to see how an enormous mixer creates a creamy mass, after which it is being processed into all kinds of shapes at an incredibly high speed. We are told that the machine obediently follows the detailed instructions on the recipes. Delicious bonbons pop out on the other side of the machine. We follow them to the wrapping area, which also happens to be the final room of our visit. In here, wrappings are made for all kinds of bonbons. Different colours, labels and prints are used to make each type of bonbon distinguish itself to the public in a unique way. Changing one of these may confuse consumers, so careful market research is done before such a change is proposed. Every wrapped batch of bonbons gets stamped with a unique number and the current date and time, which are immediately written down in a thick logbook as well. This makes it possible to trace back specific data in case questions come up.
Is it really about chocolate?
A swirling river of fresh chocolate milk guides us back to where we started. Several Oompa-Loompas are now busy loading wrapped chocolates into trucks. Soon they will find their way to happy consumers. Hopefully, traffic will be minimal. Some Oompa-Loompas look up and wave us goodbye. The tour is over. Upon exiting the chocolate factory, we start to wonder. Did we actually walk around in the factory, or were our heads in the cloud all this time? Was it all complete nonsense, or did we just get a lot of new insights on SmartHOTEL technology? For some reason, cloud concepts such as databases, storage accounts, queues, key vaults, security, access control and logs kept popping up. Just as channel manager concepts like reservations, rates, restrictions and availability messages. Ah well, perhaps we will never really know.
For more than 16 years, SmartHOTEL has been helping hoteliers navigate the exciting world of online distribution. From our office based in the Netherlands, our team serves independent hotels, hostels and chains worldwide by providing channel management and tailored online distribution solutions. A lot has changed over the last years, but our goal remains the same: simply connect hotels to the world. For any questions regarding our services, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call +31 (0)182 75 11 18.