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German travel agency DER backed up credit card processes in record time – while live operations continued

The Seychelles, New Zealand, Florida, you name it: Travel operators are certainly not short of demand right now. Compared to the numbers 20 years ago, travel agencies and travel operators have seen their share of organized tours jump from 41 to 49 percent. That said, the advance of digitalization is driving a forceful process of concentration, and only those companies that have secure electronic processes will maintain customers’ loyalty and trust in the long run. DER knows that only too well: In the space of just a few months, the German travel agency had to master the challenge of aligning its sales of air tickets with the credit card organizations’ PCI standard. Thanks to a virtual solution from VMware, the well-organized IT team got the project done and dusted in a very short time – without a single IT outage.

The services of DER Touristik, part of the DER travel agency group, help 7.7 million people a year travel to 179 countries. As with every travel operator, credit card data is an essential element of booking processes at the DER travel agency, too. This data is needed for virtually every journey, every booking, every ticket. Without it, the activities of DER would be inconceivable. To make sure private and corporate customers alike are safely protected against data theft and credit card fraudsters, the credit card organizations have defined a binding global standard: the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS), which also applies to the travel industry. DER thus had no choice: If it wanted to obtain PCI certification, it had to migrate the processes in its IT desktop landscape.

DER without credit card processes? Like a car with no tires!

“I had only been with DER for a few days when the PCI project got started. I knew it was going to be like jumping in at the deep end – I just didn’t know the water was going to be that deep and that cold!” says Dominik Reifschneider, Systems Engineer at DER, describing how he felt when the project went off the blocks. The challenges facing the whole IT department were immense: “We were under huge pressure, because a travel operator without a credit card solution is like a car with no tires,” adds Sascha Karbginski, Director IT Operations & Support. “And we only had six months to get the job done. We also had to make sure the IT migration didn’t lead to outages that could drive revenues down.”

Firewalls at the click of a mouse

With the tight deadline bearing down, the IT chief chose long-standing partner VMware to provide the solution. Several years earlier, VMware had already virtualized the desktops for the 2,500 employees all over Germany at the main data center in Frankfurt. Now, the plan was to superimpose NSX Data Center, a network virtualization platform, on the IT desktop landscape set up in 2009. A single click of the mouse was all it took Karbginski and his team to build a firewall around each individual virtual machine. And this highly effective solution ultimately saved the company’s revenues during the Christmas season. Thanks to vRealize Network Insight, it was possible to prove at the push of a button that all PCI compliance requirements were fully met. The travel agency’s routine business thus continued perfectly normally.

Secure process boosts customer confidence

“The virtual solution saved us the hassle of physically upgrading the data center, and our three-person team was sufficient to get the project completed without difficulty,” Karbginski says. “On top of that, the VMware solution is also really good value for money.” With the credit card process now safely accredited, DER has reinforced customers’ trust in the brand – and important step at a time when credit card fraud is on the rise. The VMware solutions are thus a vital building block in the DER travel agency’s business success.


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