Virgin America Goes Google With Company-Wide Migration to Gmail

Award-Winning Airline Shifts into the Cloud with Google Mail for Efficient, Cost- Effective Communications

Oct 26, 2010, 14:00 ET from Virgin America

SAN FRANCISCO, Oct. 26 /PRNewswire/ -- Virgin America, the airline that is reinventing travel, today announces it has teamed up with fellow California company Google to move its operating systems into the cloud with Google Apps™ as its webmail provider.  The move to Google Mail will improve productivity and efficiency for the airline's more than 1700 employees.  The shift into the "cloud" will also help Virgin America streamline its IT infrastructure as the Company continues to rapidly spread its wings and expand.    

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"As the only airline based here in Silicon Valley, our goal has always been to use the best in technology and design to reinvent the air travel experience for the better.  So everything from the design of our cabins, to our check-in kiosks and our Web site reflects that.  We're eager to bring the latest and greatest tech innovations not only to our guests – but also to our teammates," said Ravi Simhambhatla, Chief Information Officer for Virgin America.  "The transition to a cloud-based email system allows us to save costs and increase the speed and efficiency of our platforms, so we can focus on what we do best:  elevating the flying experience."  

The airline is transitioning all of its teammates, including those at its Burlingame, California headquarters and at its airports across North America, to the Gmail platform.  The process has already begun, and all of Virgin America's teammates will have made the shift into the "cloud" by November 10.  Google Apps will allow Virgin America's teammates to stay connected with seamless integration between their Gmail, Google Talk™ and Google Docs™.  

"We're thrilled to be jet-setting with Virgin America," said Matthew Glotzbach, Google Enterprise product management director.  "With Google Apps and on-board WiFi, Virgin America teammates now have their office in the clouds wherever their final destination may be."

Known for its tech-forward amenities, including its Linux based Red in-flight entertainment platform and award-winning Web site, Virgin America has harnessed the most efficient, open-source technology since its launch.  The airline has captured a list of travel industry best-in-class awards, including "Best Domestic Airline" in Conde Nast Traveler's 2008, 2009 and 2010 Readers' Choice Awards and Travel + Leisure's 2008, 2009 and 2010 World's Best Awards.  The airline offers innovative amenities like power outlets, mood-lit cabins and touch-screen entertainment platforms with on-demand films, live and premium TV, interactive Google Maps, music videos, videogames, seat-to-seat chat, a first-of-its-kind digital Shop section and an on-demand menu – so guests can order a cocktail or meal from their seatback any time during a flight.  In May of 2009, the airline became the first to offer fleetwide WiFi.  

More than three million businesses use Google Apps.  With Gmail, Google Calendar, and integrated IM, users can stay connected and work together with ease.  And, using Google Docs and Google Sites, which include documents, spreadsheets, presentations and website creation tools, they can share files and collaborate in real-time, keeping versions organized and available wherever and whenever users work.

To celebrate the move into the cloud, Virgin America and Google today hosted a "sky-writing" session to make the announcement to teammates.  At the viewing party at Virgin America's headquarters south of San Francisco International Airport (SFO), Virgin America teammates gathered to get a glimpse of the announcement that "Virgin America is Going Google" by aerial sky-writers and enjoy tacos provided by taco truck favorite El Tonayense.

"Google answers our data, connectivity and security needs better than any other system.  Our business model is based on staying ahead of the competition by remaining flexible and efficient.  Google Apps allow us to do just that, so we can upgrade based on the latest technology, and not be confined by budget or staffing to out-of-date systems.  Once you have Google Apps, you have the most recent version," added Simhambhatla.

Virgin America has seen rapid growth since its launch in 2007.  This summer Virgin America announced its plans to add over a thousand jobs in the next two years, many of which will be Bay Area-based.  The Company additionally announced five new destinations this year and its intent to acquire 60 new aircraft.  

In November 2008, Virgin America launched Gogo In-flight Internet on its first flight with a first ever "air-to-ground" video stream to YouTube Live – YouTube's first official real-world user event.  In June 2009, the airline teamed up with Google for the first-ever online and "in the clouds" web-based scavenger hunt, using in-flight WiFi.  In late 2009, Virgin America and Google also teamed up to offer holiday flyers free WiFi.  

EDITORS NOTE: Virgin America is a U.S. controlled and operated airline.  Sir Richard Branson's Virgin Group is a minority share investor in Virgin America.

About Virgin America: Headquartered in California and launched in August 2007, Virgin America offers guests attractive fares and a host of innovative features aimed at reinventing air travel, including in-flight internet service on every flight and the most advanced touch-screen entertainment platform in the skies.  The airline's base of operations is San Francisco International Airport.  In just three years flying, Virgin America has created 1,700 new jobs and has swept the major reader-based travel awards, including "Best Domestic Airline" in the Conde Nast Traveler 2008, 2009 and 2010 Readers' Choice Awards and "Best Domestic Airline" in Travel + Leisure's 2008, 2009 and 2010 World's Best Awards.  For photos and more, visit: www.virginamerica.com

Google, Google Apps, Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Talk, Google Docs, Google Sites and Google Maps are trademarks of Google, Inc.

SOURCE Virgin America



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