During the seasonal promotions on AirAsia, Alibaba Cloud Content Delivery Network (CDN) and Web Application Firewall (WAF) are used to guarantee that its website and applications run normally and safely. With the help of Alibaba Cloud, the performance and user experience of the AirAsia website and mobile app are remarkably improved.

Background

About AirAsia: AirAsia is the largest low-cost airline in Asia and has won World's Best Low-cost Airline for 11 years in a row. Today, AirAsia runs a network of more than 195 destinations in 25 countries across the world. Its service covers over 130 cities in different countries, such as Asia countries, Australia, New Zealand, and United States.

About seasonal promotions: AirAsia holds seasonal promotions to offer discounts on fares. The promotions in June are from 00:00:00, June 16 to 24:00:00, June 19. During the promotions, AirAsia runs many marketing activities. Promotion information can be found under its WeChat official account and on websites, search engines, and billboards. Customers can enjoy discounts on all flights to 195 destinations in a limited time and even free flights. These promotional activities have boosted the visits to AirAsia by over 10 times.

Challenges

AirAsia must meet the following challenges:
  • Security challenge: AirAsia is strongly reliant on its online booking platforms, including its official website and mobile app. These platforms can be easily exploited by bots. The official website of AirAsia is attacked by a large number of bots on a daily basis. According to statistical reports, AirAsia receives tens of millions of attacks daily from bots. These attacks have caused AirAsia great financial losses. Apparently, AirAsia will be attacked by more professional bots during its promotional activities.
  • Content delivery acceleration challenge: AirAsia runs a flight network across 25 countries in the world. The origin sites of its website and mobile app are deployed in Australia. The transmission rate drops down and network congestion frequently occurs when content is transmitted across countries. The high latency issue may frequently occur when users across the world visit the website and mobile app of AirAsia. The website of AirAsia contains a large amount of content. It is time-consuming to retrieve the content from the origin site. During promotional activities, this may adversely affect the user experience of customers.
  • Workload offloading challenge: The origin sites of AirAsia are deployed in traditional IDCs. The origin sites have high workloads and are hard to scale out. This also poses challenges to the promotional activities of AirAsia.

Alibaba Cloud solution

Solution: Alibaba Cloud offers an architecture that uses Alibaba Cloud DNS, Alibaba Cloud CDN, Alibaba Cloud WAF, and origin sites.
  • Alibaba Cloud CDN: More and more users in Mainland China are using AirAsia to book flights. Before the promotions, Alibaba Cloud helped AirAsia migrate the entire website to Alibaba Cloud CDN. The Alibaba Cloud CDN team allocated CDN nodes based on a prediction of the volume of user visits during the promotional activities, and also configured waiting rooms to offload the workloads from the origin sites. During the promotions, the hit rate of the homepage reached up to 95%. The origin sites can run stably under high workloads even though they are not scaled out. The entire website is accelerated and user experience is significantly improved. For more information about Alibaba Cloud CDN, see Alibaba Cloud CDN.
  • Security: During the promotions, the Alibaba Cloud security team provided 24-hour technical support to block booking orders from ticket bots. The team also continuously analyzed seating data to minimize the chance of seats being snatched by bots, helping AirAsia maintain its revenue growth. For more information about Alibaba Cloud WAF, see Alibaba Cloud WAF.
  • Alibaba Cloud Technical Account Manager (TAM) team: During the promotions, the Alibaba Cloud TAM team prepared plans to meet customer demand. The team also provided field technical support and worked with the business unit to make sure that the promotional activities are successful.
Major achievements:
  • Loading speed: The Web page loading time has been significantly shortened.
  • Origin site stability: Bandwidth cap and waiting rooms are used to guarantee the success of the promotional activities.
  • Dynamic content delivery: With the help of Alibaba Cloud DCDN, the average transmission rate of dynamic content is increased by more than 50%. For more information about Alibaba Cloud DCDN, see Alibaba Cloud DCDN.
  • Ticket snatching prevention: By using Alibaba Cloud CDN and Anti-Bot Service of Alibaba Cloud WAF, flight ticket snatching is under control during the promotions.

Customer values

Safeguarded by the Alibaba Cloud teams, AirAsia is able to successfully put a period to its seasonal promotions. User experience is significantly improved and ticket snatching is under control. With all these efforts, AirAsia reached its expected revenue. Alibaba Cloud will continuously safeguard AirAsia.