Much hype surrounds the cloud and the need for travel companies to migrate to it.
It is no small endeavor and there are many pitfalls to be aware of, as well as the the opportunities it presents.
Over three years ago Expedia Group began the journey to cloud migration, moving its travel platform from physical data centers into the cloud. Today it has significant workloads running at scale on the cloud providing it with more time to focus on innovation in travel.
Earlier this year, Subbu Allamaraju, vice president of technology at Expedia Group, addressed at the Amadeus T3CH event what the group’s transformation to the cloud means for its future business operations.
PhocusWire asked him to dive into how the travel platform made the migration, the pursuit of speed and safety and what the results have been.
He shares key principles and considerations when making the move to the cloud:
A journey without a map
A clear early challenge with cloud migration is that there’s no clear map for success. It’s important to come prepared with a growth mindset and embrace the process of trial and error.
Obstacles such as existing organizational structure and messy architectural problems will surface frequently during the process. Be sure to pay attention to such obstacles and adapt quickly to make progress.
Essential industry trends that support cloud migration
Whether you look at data, micro‐services or even machine learning, we’re witnessing a massive shuffling of complexity of difficult and complex infrastructure, automation and algorithmic problems into easy-to-use, pay-as-go cloud services.
Such building blocks are making it faster and cheaper to not only build large-scale architectures, but also revise those architectures quickly for better price‐for‐performance.
In parallel, the availability of these services across different regions in the world is making it easy to build robust architectures. Of course, you still need to do the hard work of taking advantage of these, but you have a better starting point than you had a few years ago.
Defining measurable outcomes of cloud migration
Any large‐scale activity like the cloud migration involves several unknown risks, yet also presents several opportunities to transform a company technologically, organizationally and culturally.
At Expedia Group, these opportunities became clear as we started hitting some key milestones.
Subscribe to our newsletter below
First, make it faster, better and cheaper to build and operate our travel platforms; and second, make our apps and services more available to our customers. In other words, cloud migration can help reduce the time to produce customer value, as well as increase the opportunity to capture customer value.
Invest to drive rate of change
Early into the migration, we made investments in CI/CD (continuous integration/continuous delivery) enabling our developers to create and run an app within minutes.
These investments are paying off well at the company with our teams making production changes four times faster than two years ago. Such investments were necessary to unlock the potential of our tech talent.
Pick big boulders early
We build and operate some of the world’s largest travel services that process hundreds of millions of requests every day.
We realized early that the success of our migration depended on migrating to and operating these on the cloud well, as well making those services cost‐effective to run on the cloud.
With that in mind, as soon as we gained experience with some of the easier problems, we started the migration process of these harder areas. This approach allowed us to discover the complexities early and build the muscle to deal with those.
Through this process, we took the opportunity to reinvest in some critical services as well as retire some of our older systems.
Have a point of view on being cloud native
"Marchitecture" is prevalent in the cloud native space and hype supersedes reality. This can distort your view of what you should invest in and why.
To stay focused, we picked four guardrails for our migration.
- First, embrace equivalent cloud native services whenever possible to minimize the amount of undifferentiated heavy lifting.
- Second, internalize cloud economics so you know how much it costs to run an architecture on the cloud and how to improve its price‐for‐performance.
- Third, invest early in standardizing and automating security and controls.
- Finally, build for redundancy, and exercise failovers to test robustness of our services to failures.
Prepare for a state of hybrid operations
Cloud migration is a process, not something that happens overnight. Your infrastructure, architectures, tools, processes as well costs will remain hybrid for most of your journey. This can feel complex and overwhelming at times.
You have got to stay focused and agile for extended periods to derive value from your investments for cloud migration.
About the author...
Subbu Allamaraju is vice president of technology at Expedia Group