Informing the IBM Community

Speedy website’s a winner with Power i and Watson



A German developer has combined the Power i’s strength with Watson’s savvy to carve out a niche in the hotel market.

Kaufering-based IT consultant Rainer Ross used a Power 720 and IBM’s Watson Content Analytics software to create a new hotel search engine called myhofi (pictured).

In a new report from Big Blue, Ross says: “I found that many existing hotel search engines were slow, difficult to use and full of advertisements. Users can typically filter using only specified fields, rather than typing in exactly what they are looking for.”

Ross saw a gap in the market for a faster, easy-to-use service with full-text search.

He says: “To build one without having to hire extra staff or give up my consulting work, I needed a platform with very low administrative requirements on which to run it. High performance was critical, as slow response times repel users. Also, I needed a solution that could easily scale to support growing query numbers as the site’s popularity grew.

He built his new site within the Rational Developer for i environment using his RPG skills along with elements like HTML5, JSON and XML for its front-end. To introduce free text search, he indexed data about hotels within DB2 for i and used Watson Content Analytics software to search it using SQL.

Using the same natural language processing technology as its gameshow-winning namesake, the Watson Content Analytics software detects linguistic matches, ensuring that users receive all relevant results.

This means that users can simply type in what they are looking for – such as “sea view” or “childcare” – rather than having filters limited to a set of tick boxes. The search engine also pulls photos, exchange rates and weather information from other sites.

Watson Content Analytics, which used to go by the sporty title IBM Content Analytics with Enterprise Search, runs on AIX, Linux and Windows. Although the report does not specify which he used, Ross says that his Power i generally gives him a response time for gathering info from multiple sites of under 0.5 seconds. This, he claims, makes myhofi one of the fastest hotel search engines in the world.

Speed plays a pivotal role in fostering customer acquisition and loyalty, he says, as does the site’s reliability.

He says: “The website is used around-the-clock, so keeping it online is crucial. In over a year of using IBM i, I have experienced no downtime. Moreover, IBM i is not vulnerable to viruses, making it an extremely secure platform – a key consideration for web applications.”

Not only has his i-based setup given him the ability to create and run myhofi pretty much single-handedly, Ross reckons he’s saved himself a bundle of cash into the bargain.

He says: “Taking into account that extras such as database licenses are included with IBM i, there is a huge cost-benefit for this platform. I would estimate that the total costs of IBM i are only a third of those of competing solutions.”

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