Version 1 Cloud Expertise
Accelerates International Market Entry

HolidayTaxis.com is a worldwide transport service, offering airport to city and resort transfers in over 12,000 destinations in over 130 countries around the world.

Version 1 Cloud expertise enabled HolidayTaxis.com to meet crucial business development demands and enter new international markets within a tight deadline.

Client Profile
HolidayTaxis.com
Established:
2002
Client Since:
2016
Employees:
Industry:
E-Commerce
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Business Driver for Cloud

Holiday Taxis acquired a number of contracts based in Asia, resulting in a significant increase in customers from that region. However, as the company’s datacentre is based in London, tests showed that Great Firewall of China combined with increased regional latency could increase the risk of longer page load times for customers. Holiday Taxis identified China and Singapore as the key areas where the majority of the traffic was expected to come from. As a result, they wished to add new datacenters in China and Singapore to better serve customers in the SEA region.

Project Challenges

  • There was an extremely tight deadline to get the deployment live. This was due to the start date of several of the new contracts.
  • The system had to highly available, fault-tolerant, and scalable.
  • The existing data and application needed to be migrated to the new environment.
  • The environment design needed to meet the complex requirements of the application.

Given the unique constraints and timescale of the project, Version 1’s proposed solution was to build the new environments in AWS China and AWS Singapore. This consisted of a VPC with load balanced web servers, a read-only database server pair, and a VPN solution between the new deployments and the existing datacentre in London.

Version 1 ensured the safe on-boarding of Public Cloud by implementing the Version 1 AWS reference architecture and supplementing it with firewalls and monitoring. Once the environment was set up and verified, only then were the application and database servers built and data transferred.

Best practice Cloud migration took place in several steps:

  • Development of Infrastructure as Code (IaC) was carried out to automate the build of secure environments, based on the Version 1 Reference Architecture. The IaC triggered builds using AWS services like VPC, EC2 and IAM.
  • The application and database servers were deployed, setup and configured on the EC2 instances.
  • UAT/integration testing, and data migration, and monitoring was set up.
  • DNS entries for the new environment were added using AWS Route 53, and the production go-live was complete.

Cloud Migration Delivers Benefits

• Extremely fast deployment to meet the time constraints. This timelines involved in this project would have been impossible using a traditional physical datacentre.
• High availability deployment, across multiple availability zones.
• Much improved page load times for SEA customers.
• Infrastructure as a code, which allows for the datacenter blueprint to be quickly deployed again in other AWS regions.
• Ongoing support and management of the database and application through Cloud Managed Services.

Version 1 helped us to migrate our production database to AWS. Our aim was to lift and shift the database, minimising downtime and risk, ensuring a quick migration. While AWS easily meets our needs for flexible, scalable and cost effective compute, the installation of more legacy DBMS software in a highly-available clustered environment pushed the out of the box AWS functionality to its limit. Version 1 brought decades of DBMS experience to the project, helping us with our architecture decisions and ensuring we could meet our migration deadlines.
- Cian Kennedy IT and Strategy Director, HolidayTaxis.com

Continuous Improvement to the Core Service Offering

Due to certain challenges with Holiday Taxi’s core service offering experiencing regular spikes in traffic, on both a daily and seasonal basis a new strategy had to be undertaken for the future of the environment to cope with increasing demand.  Upgrading the spec of these virtual machines in a timely manner to respond to these seasonal spikes was proving challenging and occasionally resulted in degraded service.  This led to a decision for Holiday Taxis to build a new production environment on AWS in order utilize the flexible and elastic nature of native AWS services.

Holiday Taxi’s core production environment was previously hosted in a data centre in London and consisted of 18 virtual machines running on top of 3 hypervisors.  The database tier consisted of a two node failover cluster running Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2 and 4 read only SQL Servers providing search data for Holiday Taxis web platform kept up to date with SQL Server Replication.

Version 1 planned, deployed and configured Microsoft SQL Server 2016 on EC2 instances as a replacement infrastructure for Holiday Taxis’ core database services.  The new AWS environment consisted of a two node Microsoft SQL Server AlwaysOn cluster for better high availability while retaining native SQL Server Replication to populate multiple Microsoft SQL Server 2016 read-only nodes serving search traffic.

Once this infrastructure was available, the live data then had to be migrated from the Holiday Taxis data centre environment as well as configuring the database in SQL Server high availability in AWS for added resiliency and configuring native SQL Server replication to support Holiday Taxis web tier.  The core production databases residing in the data centre were running Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2 and had to be migrated and upgraded without issue to Microsoft SQL Server 2016 in AWS with minimal amount of downtime.

The creation of the new environment as well the migration of data was an unmitigated success. It has been running issue-free in AWS for some months and importantly, without any issues coping with fluctuations in demand for the service.  The entire database tier was successfully migrated to AWS in the duration required by Holiday Taxis to minimise the impact on their public web platform.

Holiday Taxis are looking to grow out from this base environment with additional databases in AWS in the near future to give added resiliency to the core product as well as additional functionality.

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