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Face to Face: Jim Lamb, CIO of Interstate Hotels & Resorts

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October 01, 2014
Face to Face
Geneva Rinehart

At HITEC 2014 Hospitality Upgrade interviewed Jim Lamb, chief information officer for Interstate Hotels & Resorts, on the technology transformation that Interstate has deployed.

Earlier this year your team deployed a large technology initiative. Please tell us about this project and how it came about.
Jim: We announced our efforts related to our overall IT transformation, focusing primarily on our migration, or adoption, of the cloud as a means or a mechanism to provide infrastructure for our hotel platform. I joined Interstate about two and a half years ago, specifically to oversee this transformation. We were at a decision point where our existing servers were end of life and didn’t have capacity to meet the significant growth objectives that our new owners had set out for us. We really needed to bolster our disaster recovery and business continuity capabilities. So, in looking at what our options were, we elected to go to the cloud. They always hear a number of things about what the cloud is, what it isn’t, whether it’s the ability to access your systems and servers over the Internet, whether it’s the ability to quickly deploy emerging technology, whether it’s the ability to avoid investment and expensive infrastructure, and it’s all of those things. But for us, it was really more about being able to keep up with that constant downward pressure on the cost of computing resources, memory storage and those types of things, and put ourselves in a position to be able to grow in an effective and efficient way.

Why was this project significant to undertake?
Jim: For one thing, I really think it represents what Interstate is all about. It’s looking forward, not back; leading, not following; and never being complacent about success, always raising the bar. So moving to the cloud has allowed us to leverage our supplier’s investment in world-class infrastructure. We now operate out of not one, but two data centers, and there is automatic, automated data replication between those data centers which would allow us, should we lose our primary data center, we could have our systems back up and running in a matter of hours in our secondary data center. It’s a significant increase or enhancement in the quality of the infrastructure that we’re able to run and support our owners on, and we feel that the capacity for growth and the quality of that infrastructure is a significant differentiator for Interstate.

What were some of the specific goals of the project?
Jim: Capacity for growth. The ability to have a true disaster recovery business continuity capability on the infrastructure. But also to have a world-class supplier who is managing and monitoring that environment for us seven days a week, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, is a level of service that was beyond what we were able to provide solely on our own back.

Since the launch earlier this year, what benefits have you noticed?
Jim: I think again going back to the growth, if we look back two and a half years ago and the amount of growth that Interstate has undergone, to go from 200 to 300, now approaching 400 hotels, the infrastructure that we were on could not and would not have supported that. So to be able to achieve that growth is a manifestation of one of the core reasons that we took that migration on. Also…
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