The Transition to Amazon Web Services

The Transition to Amazon Web Services

A Look into Our Journey

Like many organizations, North Plains Systems is embracing the benefits of cloud technology, helping it to deliver services to customers faster, more efficiently and with more flexibility. The company has recently gone through a migration to Amazon Web Services (AWS), arguably the most successful cloud platform, that has been adopted by a myriad of organizations worldwide. As well as benefits for the company, this transition to the cloud is good news for customers, too.

We asked Artur Bujdoso, Systems & Network Administrator for North Plains Systems, to tell us more about the migration process; why it matters, what was involved and the impact on customers. This is the first in a series of technical posts from the team, so we welcome your feedback and any suggestions for future topics.

Artur, where is North Plains in terms of its current infrastructure and the move to a fully cloud-based environment?

We’re already a long way down the road and by the end of this year, there will be no physical data centre, no hardware and no servers. Instead, everything is going to be delivered via the Amazon cloud platform. Many of our On Brand users are already on AWS and we’re adding more customers in more countries across the year.

That’s a pretty big step. Why?

Hardware needs regular renewal, maintenance and upgrades, all of which can quickly become cumbersome and expensive. Moving to the cloud means we have access to a technology platform that is extremely reliable, fast (it’s like traveling on a super-fast highway as opposed to a standard road), secure and is always being maintained and upgraded on our behalf. It’s also very scalable; we’re not confined by the capacity of physical servers.

From a business point of view, what’s the benefit?

We can focus our excellent IT people on doing what they do best: SaaS development and support, rather than diverting their time and energy into maintaining a physical IT infrastructure. AWS makes it possible for us to build infrastructure based on our exact requirements, with a reduced total cost of ownership (TCO).

It means we can also be much smarter about planning both our own requirements and those of our clients. We have some pretty big clients who require exceptional service and the transition to the cloud helps us maintain that level of quality.

On that point, why should North Plains’ customers care about the move to AWS?

Like many organizations, we’ve watched the evolution of the cloud keenly and as it has matured, it has some very clear and well-documented benefits. For instance, it enables us to take a more flexible, agile and innovative approach to both our development and services.

Plus, the AWS platform is very secure, it doesn’t limit our capacity, can scale to meet demand and has what the industry calls ‘high availability’ (in other words, it’s always on, there is no downtime and ‘disaster recovery’ routes are in-built). So our customers can be confident that we can continue to provide a highly reliable, robust and secure service. Support is 24/7.

What does the future hold and how does AWS support North Plains’ culture of innovation?

Moving to the cloud is great news all round: it takes the brakes off any barriers to innovation. We’ve identified three key areas.

First, it speeds up development. Deployment is fast and there is no need to invest in additional hardware, so these traditional roadblocks are completely removed.

Second, the cost of development is reduced. This means we can have a more agile and experimental approach to development. In other words, we can ‘test and fail’ early, without any significant hardware cost implications. This certainly helps to engender a more innovative spirit within the development team.

Third, AWS provides powerful monitoring tools, together with simple integration into the existing tools we already have. Amazon also monitors every single ‘instance’ and it notifies us in advance if it spots any potential problems, meaning we can trouble-shoot at an early stage and proactively respond before an issue has a chance to escalate.

North Plains just migrated its first UK client on to AWS. Can you give us some background on that?

The Society of London Theatres (SOLT) is the customer in question. We’re pretty pleased with the process and we think the customer is, too. To quote Duncan Sweetland, Digital & Online Manager for SOLT,

“The project was handled by the North Plains team and they were there for us at every stage. Being on Amazon means that we can spin up virtual servers in minutes when we need them, so capacity is not a problem for SOLT today and won’t be in the future.”

Final words, Artur?

The cloud is no longer the future; it’s here and now, proving its benefits to our customers and hopefully many more to follow. We very pleased to be part of this major shift in how services are delivered, benefiting both us and our customers.

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