Global procurement consultancy slashes IT spend with DevOps-enabled AWS migration

CASE STUDY - Efficio

As a procurement consultancy, Efficio has a strong focus on cost management and value. However, its own set-up with a traditional managed hosting provider was unsatisfactory on both counts. DevOpsGroup devised and initiated a migration and modernisation programme that enabled Efficio to benefit from AWS’ cloud computing services. Initial cost reductions have been as high as 70 percent.


Industry:

Management Consulting

Organisation Type:

Scale-Up

Service:

Cloud Platform Engineering


Constrained by traditional hosting

As with many fast-growing businesses, Efficio was increasingly frustrated at the limitations of its traditional managed hosting provider. To maximise its potential in the digital economy, the business needed a new cloud-based IT platform offering a higher level of resilience, flexibility and scalability. It also needed to keep a tight rein on costs, and the ability to react dynamically to changeable market demands.

The existing platform was built across public and private cloud, consisting of close to 200 virtual servers spanning three distinct environments. Most applications were written in PHP and utilised MySQL/MariaDB and PostgreSQL databases. This configuration was not aligned with the DevOps practices that Efficio were striving to adopt and incurred a large administrative overhead.

Further chronic problems included high storage costs and the inability to scale in a flexible way, so instances that only needed resource temporarily locked Efficio into additional long-term costs. Overall the set-up represented very poor value for money.

 

Migrate and modernise: moving to AWS

DevOpsGroup was engaged to advise on the most appropriate cloud provider for Efficio’s needs, then assist with the early phase of the migration. The goal was to lay firm foundations that Efficio could build upon quickly. Following a Migration Readiness Assessment and Migration Evaluator session we recommended moving the main application stack and dependent resources to AWS.

Efficio already had some experience using the third party solutions Terraform and Puppet, so we opted to extend the scope of these to drive infrastructure improvements. Building on the team’s existing knowledge in this way reduced risk and enabled faster progress.

“We had spent some time searching for the right partner who could objectively appraise our current situation and make a firm, impartial recommendation as to which cloud vendor we should choose and what our overall migration approach should be. DevOpsGroup understood the brief and delivered an initial consulting engagement in which they deeply impressed us with their technical expertise and ability to factor commercial considerations into their recommendations. The quality of the initial engagement made it an easy decision to bring them back to help us kick-start the migration project."

Dane Palmer, Senior Technology Manager, Efficio

Technical overview

Using the AWS cloud platform meant we could automate the scalability of applications while enabling applications to interact more effectively. We set up an AWS landing zone with Transit and NAT gateways, in alignment with AWS Well-Architected Framework best practice guidelines.

We also undertook three proof of concept migrations to demonstrate processes and provide repeatable methods that could be adopted by Efficio’s in-house team.

Firstly, we conducted a lift and shift for a legacy application. This was the most appropriate method in the circumstances as the application is due to be retired within the next 18 months.

The next approach involved re-hosting existing applications on EC2 instances, using Puppet for deployment. This approach will be applicable to the bulk of Efficio’s infrastructure, so it was useful to include it within our remit. We’ve been able to calculate how long it takes to migrate applications in this way, so Efficio can determine the best time to give notice to the existing managed hosting provider. This will ensure any dual running costs are kept to a minimum.

Finally, we used Packer to generate EC2 AMIs to deploy auto-scaling, highly available, refactored alternative to the re-hosting approach.

Before our appointment, Efficio had made some inroads using Terraform for infrastructure as code. We took this to the next stage, deploying a Well-Architected landing zone that included up to date Terraform Templates, then providing full training for Efficio’s technical team. We also used the third party GitLab tool for CI/CD pipelines.

“DevOpsGroup understood the importance of upskilling our team such that they could become self-sufficient for the remainder of the migration effort. All of their engineers were happy to pair-up with our team in order to teach new methods, even if it meant going at a slower pace. The feedback from our team was extremely positive about the overall experience – they learnt a lot and really enjoyed working with the DOG team”

Dane Palmer, Senior Technology Manager, Efficio

Reduced costs, better resilience, dynamic scalability

AWS offered many potential benefits for Efficio. Taking a DevOps-led approach to the migration enabled them to be achieved more quickly.

The proof of concept migrations handled by DevOpsGroup immediately reduced infrastructure spend by more than 70 percent for those specific instances, helped in part by the rightsizing of resources. Infrastructure as code and automation will deliver further benefits, such as enhanced operability, better cost management and dynamic scalability.

Using AWS instead of a traditional managed hosting provider also provides better visibility of metrics, enhanced resilience to failures and better control of security.

Altogether, this gives Efficio a more robust, adaptive and cost-effective IT infrastructure that is able to support future business developments.

“DevOpsGroup’s input enabled us to get the initial AWS infrastructure stood-up very quickly, giving more time to focus on the proof-of-concept migrations, the upskilling of our team and the strategic planning for the migration proper. The communication was excellent throughout – despite COVID meaning the entire engagement was delivered remotely – and they had the flexibility and engineering skill to help us resolve the inevitable technical issues in quick order. Ultimately, they left us in a position to confidently progress the migration on our own which was the primary objective.”

Dane Palmer, Senior Technology Manager, Efficio

A modern way of working

Going forward, Efficio is in a strong position to embed better ways of working and reduce technical debt. The team knows how to take full advantage of the self-service nature of cloud and has the confidence to mature its operations capabilities, allowing more time and space for innovation.

About Efficio

Efficio is the world’s largest procurement consultancy, operating globally with offices in Europe, North America and the Middle East. It helps organisations reduce costs, improve internal processes and upskill procurement teams to achieve measurable and sustainable cost savings. A key enabler to this is eFlow, Efficio’s proprietary procurement technology platform designed to support savings delivery, improve supplier partnerships, drive innovation and manage risk.

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