On The Beach (OTB) is a UK-based retail package holiday company was founded in 2004. OTB was running its platform in two on-premises data centers but wanted to be able to quickly and easily scale its infrastructure and increase innovation throughout the range of services it offered. It chose AWS Partner AND Digital to help plan a migration to AWS, while also providing technical expertise, mentoring, and training. The seamless migration of two data centers in 12 months went to plan, giving OTB a scalable, flexible infrastructure, and increased its platform performance by 50 percent.
Migrating to the Cloud for Agility and Scalability
On The Beach (OTB) is a UK-based travel platform founded in 2004 to provide retail beach holiday packages. In 2015 it was listed on the London Stock Exchange with a valuation of £250 million. Since its Initial Public Offering (IPO), OTB has grown and expanded its travel portfolio. OTB was running its travel platform and backend IT systems from two on-premises data centers. With a highly technical staff, it was operating its data centers as efficiently as possible, but with more growth expected, it was investigating how cloud might provide a more flexible alternative.
Jason Vickerman, director of infrastructure and security at On The Beach, explains that although the company was generally happy with its on-premises data centers, it recognized that cloud was now a mature technology that could allow easy scaling and provide a foundation for growth. “Our engineering team was being slowed down because we were on premises. Our main justification for using cloud was that it could improve our speed to market and allow us to scale quickly.” In 2020 when the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted the travel industry, OTB decided the time was right to execute its cloud migration.
After comparing offerings from different cloud providers, the company chose to use Amazon Web Services (AWS) because of its diverse range of services and its ability to optimize costs. Although it had the technical expertise in house, OTB wanted a trusted external cloud expert to manage the overall migration project.
They instantly felt like members of the team. Working alongside us, combining knowledge and experience with a cohesive approach and underpinned by robust process.”
Director of Infrastructure and Security, On The Beach
AND Digital Orchestrates Successful Migration to AWS
OTB already had a close working relationship with AWS Partner AND Digital, so it asked the company to oversee the migration. Alejandro Arnés, cloud delivery lead at AND Digital, says OTB’s on-premises setup was well suited for a move to cloud. “OTB was already operating in a cloud-like environment—its applications were containerized using Kubernetes and it was running over a hundred microservices.”
The migration kicked off in early 2022 with AND Digital orchestrating and managing the project to make sure that all the different product teams worked together. After about 9 months of preparation, the actual migration was completed in a matter of weeks. OTB’s Vickerman described it as an intelligent lift and shift. “Usually, a lift and shift means recreating legacy servers in the cloud, which unfortunately also recreates all the management and scaling limitations. In this case we made tactical use of AWS services where they provided a like-for-like managed service.”
OTB was running MySQL databases and chose to use Amazon Relational Database Service (Amazon RDS), which is a collection of managed services that makes it simple to set up, operate, and scale databases in the cloud. Its application was already containerized using Kubernetes so OTB chose to use Amazon Elastic Kubernetes Service (Amazon EKS), a managed Kubernetes service, to run Kubernetes in the AWS and on-premises data centers. AND Digital provided several cloud engineers to help fill gaps in OTB’s technical skills and provided mentoring and knowledge transfer to ensure that once the migration was completed, OTB would have the necessary skills to manage on its own. Vickerman says the AND Digital team created a migration plan and stuck to it, which resulted in the migration hitting all of its deadlines. “This is where we realized the real benefits of working with AND Digital. They instantly felt like members of the team—working alongside us, combining knowledge and experience with a cohesive approach and underpinned by robust process. This enabled us to successfully migrate on time. Without this joint approach, we would not have been successful.”
AND Digital sought to understand our environment, people, and work processes, before applying its knowledge, skills, and experience to help us deliver this key project.”
Director of Infrastructure and Security, On The Beach
OTB Migration Optimizes the Customer Experience and Encourages Innovation
The migration has resulted in a 50 percent speed increase across all applications, 99.9 percent uptime, and created an agile, scalable infrastructure that provides the perfect foundation for innovation. OTB’s customers enjoy a better experience and its technical teams have more time to work on higher value projects instead of maintaining the data centers. “This was a joint exercise with AND Digital—we executed a full and seamless migration from two data centers into the cloud within 12 months,” says Vickerman. “AND Digital sought to understand our environment, our people, and the way we work, before applying its knowledge, skills, and experience to help us deliver this key project. We now have the flexibility to react to whatever the business asks of us.”
About On The Beach
On The Beach is a UK-based supplier of retail package holidays. It provides over 1.5 million customers each year with flight and accommodation combinations to beaches around Europe and to long haul destinations such as Thailand. Launched in 2004 as a startup, the company performed an IPO in 2015, listing on the London Stock Exchange with a valuation of £250 million.
AWS Services Used
- 50% improvement in performance
- 99.9% uptime
- Increased speed to market for new products
- Platform capable of scaling to business demand
About the AWS Partner AND Digital
AND Digital is on a mission to close the world’s digital skills gap. To do that, they accelerate the digital capabilities of ambitious organisations, blending tech craft skills and product expertise with an award-winning approach to talent development. This means its clients can launch better digital products and build high performing digital teams faster today, whilst simultaneously developing the critical capabilities they need to fuel their digital journey tomorrow.
Published July 2023