Japan Airlines

Major Asian Airline Company Lowers Costs with Move to Cloud Collaboration Solution

To trim operating costs and boost IT efficiency, Japan Airlines (JAL) evaluated upgrading its productivity and collaboration infrastructure. After deciding to adopt Microsoft Office 365, JAL prioritized deployment of Microsoft Exchange Online to more than 20,000 of its employees. Now, JAL has lowered costs and improved productivity by providing employees with anywhere access to essential tools.


Solution Overview:

Organization Size

31000 employees

Organization Profile

Based in Tokyo, Japan Airlines and its partners fly to 229 airports in 40 countries. The company has approximately 31,000 employees.

Software and Services:

  • Microsoft Office 365
  • Microsoft Exchange Online
  • Microsoft Services
  • Cloud Vantage – O365

Vertical Industries






Company Overview:

Japan Airlines (JAL) was founded in 1951 and established itself as the country’s first international airline company. The Tokyo-based carrier, which emerged from a corporate restructuring process in 2010, has implemented reforms in a number of areas over the last several years.

JAPAN AIRLINES Case StudyJAL has focused squarely on reasserting itself as a full-service carrier capable of providing innovative products and services ahead of competitors. Executives have also prioritized improving efficiency, including a concerted effort to achieve the industry’s best record for on-time departures and arrivals. In fact, leaders from all departments have worked hard to identify ways to reduce costs and improve worker productivity. And this approach has been working. During its 2011 fiscal year, JAL exceeded JPY¥20 billion (US$214 million) in annual revenue, far exceeding many industry analysts’ expectations.

Business Needs:

As IT leaders looked for ways to better support a corporate mandate to lower costs and promote greater workforce flexibility, they evaluated the company’s existing infrastructure. In particular, they saw an opportunity to enhance the tools that JAL used for communication and collaboration.

For more than a decade JAL used Microsoft Exchange 2000 Server, which it accessed through a local hosting provider. IT leaders were eager to take advantage of some of the more advanced features of subsequent releases of Exchange Server. These included improvements to scalability and support for larger mailbox sizes, in addition to tighter interoperability with the Microsoft Office suite of productivity applications.

With an aim toward lowering IT hardware and maintenance costs and simplifying future upgrades, executives considered moving to a cloud-based messaging and collaboration system. They stressed the importance of easing manageability to ensure that all employees, including remote and mobile workers, benefit from straightforward, anywhere access to essential tools.


 After comparing offerings from a number of vendors, the company selected Microsoft Office 365, which provides familiar Microsoft Office applications hosted in Microsoft data centers and delivered as cloud services. JAL determined that moving to Microsoft Office 365 offered the best overall value for its investment. Executives based their decision to deploy Office 365 on a number of factors, including the superior level of strategic consulting and technical support that Microsoft offers. For example, JAL took full advantage of the opportunity to use Microsoft Cloud Vantage Services to accelerate its move to Office 365. Cloud Vantage Services provides organizations with custom technical and business expertise throughout the transition lifecycle—from implementation planning and deployment to business value realization, training, and ongoing support.

Beginning in April 2011, JAL worked with the Cloud Vantage Services team and Japan Business Systems, its implementation partner of record, to initiate the migration to Office 365. JAL chose to prioritize deployment of Microsoft Exchange Online, which provides enterprise-grade email, calendaring, and contact management functionality accessible through a range of web browsers and mobile devices. Executives noted the importance of interoperability between Exchange Online and the company’s on-premises Active Directory environment, a database component of the Windows Server operating system designed to track user account and network access information. This meant that IT administrators could use familiar management tools to handle essential tasks, like adding email accounts.

JAL has deployed Exchange Online to more than 20,000 employees. Executives report that people throughout the company have been able to quickly adapt to the process of accessing email messages, contacts, tasks, and schedule information through a web interface. Because many workers were already familiar with using the Outlook Web App tool, they were able to transition to using Exchange Online with little or no training. Further, employees in all roles appreciate the availability of up to 25 gigabytes (GB) of storage space for each mailbox account, which reduces the need for people to manually save and manage messaging data on their local PCs.


By adopting Microsoft Office 365, Japan Airlines is experiencing the following benefits.

Lowered IT Operating Expenses, Consolidated Costs JAL no longer needs to routinely source, configure, and update physical servers, which saves the company’s IT staff time and enables JAL to reduce infrastructure costs. Now, as JAL expands its operations, it can quickly and cost-efficiently scale IT resources to support the communication and collaboration needs of a growing workforce. And, instead of planning for capital expenses related to IT, JAL can shift those costs to its monthly operating budget. By moving to Microsoft Office 365, JAL has lowered its IT hardware costs, while gaining operational flexibility.

Enhanced Workforce Productivity, Mobility With online access to the communication and collaboration tools they need, JAL employees can more easily connect with colleagues and get more done—from practically any location and device. Employees also appreciate the flexibility and convenience that comes from having an email account with 25 GB of storage space. With fewer restrictions on receiving, managing, and sending large files, employees can stay focused on working with colleagues to address the needs of the business, instead of solving technology issues.

Simplified Path to Future Technology Upgrades Now that JAL relies on a services-based architecture model with its adoption of Office 365, the company can evaluate and implement technology upgrades in a much more agile way. In fact, JAL can now receive feature updates automatically, accelerating deployment cycles and reducing costs. The ability to stay current with the latest Microsoft productivity tools will help JAL support its efforts to continuously improve efficiency.


Microsoft Case Study: Japan Airlines

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