Ryanair has chosen Couchbase's Mobile and Server NoSQL databases to create a customer-focused mobile app that can survive without a wireless broadband connection.
Paul Sheridan, Ryanair's lead technical architect, told V3 the airline is creating a reservation app that moves away from the limitations of the current version.
"The current reservation system is very good at reserving seats on planes, managing inventory, and the operations side of things at the airport," he said.
"When we decided we were going to flesh out a whole new system, we decided that, instead of slavishly rewriting the reservation system, we would look at a system that is totally independent of any flight reservation system, any hotel booking system, car hire or anything like that, but instead focuses purely on the traveller."
To achieve this, Ryanair will use diverse and often unstructured data which is best handled by NoSQL databases.
Sheridan explained that NoSQL databases avoid the need to worry about changing the 'schema' - the way data is organised or perceived - when new data is added.
Developers can therefore make rapid changes to an application without compromising the integrity of the supporting database.
This allows the creation of a mobile app supported by an embedded database full of information relevant to individual travellers.
The use of a NoSQL database within the app means Ryanair will be able to provide travel information to a customer without the need for a cellular or Wi-Fi connection.
"A lot of apps, especially ones that are geared towards travel and you being on holiday, need to be connected 100 percent of the time. Otherwise they are useless," Sheridan said.
"We realised that for a lot of our travellers when they are abroad Wi-Fi isn't always readily available. You might have a low connection, or you don't want any crazy roaming charges or anything like that.
"So we would like you to be able to change content locally, and when you do arrive at a Wi-Fi point we'll sync that data back to [our servers].
"And in the same way, if anything changes with respect to your booking, we can channel that information down to you."
The new app will focus on updating information within its local database, rather than overhauling the whole app when changes are made to the data in Ryanair's main NoSQL database.
"We preload the app with a lot of information, and we only update the little bits of information that might change. So if we just update that little portion of the whole view, it makes the app a lot faster," said Sheridan.
He went on to explain that this updating capacity will be provided through the Synch Gateway feature found in Couchbase's Mobile database product.
Synch Gateway allows for the remote synchronising of the app's local database with Ryanair's main servers.
This is one of the standout features that made Ryanair opt for Couchbase over rival database providers, despite never previously working with the company.
The app is due to be released for iOS and Android at the end of March.
Mobile technology appears to be capturing the attention of airline operators. United Airlines recently announced plans to give iPhone 6 Plus smartphones to 23,000 flight attendants to access work information and better serve customers.
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