G6 Hospitality Reduces Code Deployment Time by Over 80 Percent
With Flux7, an AWS Premier Consulting Partner and DevOps, Migration, and Security Competency Partner
Embracing Technology as a Vehicle for Growth in the Hospitality Industry
Consumer expectations of hospitality providers—particularly lodging providers—change rapidly. What may have been considered a bonus just a year ago becomes standard in the minds of people seeking to make the most of their lodging and travel experiences.
Building and executing a holistic digital transformation strategy to keep up with customer expectations is key for survival in an increasingly competitive industry. With a clear aim to maintain and grow its leadership position in the economy lodging segment and stay true to its mission to offer travelers a clean, comfortable room with great services at a fair price, G6 Hospitality chose to focus on how it could use technology to pioneer new trends in the industry.
“Being able to tell business leaders that we can implement a vision they have within two weeks, rather than six months, changes the way technology is viewed within the organization and changes the sense of engagement the technology team members have with business teams.”
- Jessie Burgess, Chief Information Officer at G6 Hospitality
“We’re not afraid of tackling the risks and investment that can come with being a first-mover and getting in front of the technology curve,” says Jessie Burgess, chief information officer at G6. “We see technology as a vehicle and an enabler for us as we move forward and serve our guests, franchisees, owners, and operators. Limitations of technology capabilities should never be where you start the discussion. We want technology to be driven by business needs and enable business outcomes.”
Developing and Driving an IT 2.0 Strategy
Over the last few years, the team at G6 saw just how much consumer expectations and actions changed as a result of a digital and mobile-first environment. G6 knew it needed to promote a new technology mindset and culture throughout the company and use unique solutions to move faster, adapt quicker, and evolve in shorter iterations to realize its technology leadership objectives.
“With the rapid acceleration of change in the hospitality industry and impact of cloud technology, we quickly focused on developing a cloud-first and automation-first strategy that would help us to move quickly and evolve how we operate to develop a world-class technology footprint and increase our speed of delivery to the business,” says Burgess.
Concentrating on increasing the 'option value’ of its technology platforms, in which it can better anticipate ever-increasing evolution cycles of change within its industry, G6 developed and embarked on what it called its IT 2.0 strategy. The company’s IT 2.0 goal focused on embracing a cloud-first strategy, automation, and DevOps best practices. The company needed to build a flexible, scalable, agile, and secure technology platform on the cloud to drive faster experimentation practices and quickly convert ideas to a working production model while rapidly responding to business needs.
Of equal importance to developing the platform itself was cultivating an internal, innovation-driven culture focused on agile development practices, while also improving the expertise in-house to manage and evolve the G6 technology platform and approach over time. “Early on, we took an on-premises infrastructure and operational approach focused on the Waterfall model for development," says Burgess. "We knew we needed to make a change and be clear about the business needs driving this change with teams inside and outside of IT."
Working with Flux7 to Migrate to AWS and Embrace New Skills
G6’s leadership team decided to focus its IT 2.0 approach on AWS. “We made a strategic decision to migrate to AWS,” says Burgess. “It is amazing to look at the number of cloud and product enhancements at AWS and the brand-new capabilities they drive through the spirit of innovation. I love that what fuels innovation there is customer feedback as well as being close to customer innovation on the ground. Their global presence is tremendous as well. These were a few of the several reasons we chose to focus on AWS.”
The G6 team turned to the AWS Partner Network (APN) to identify a cloud consulting partner to engage with from the beginning of its cloud journey. "The APN Consulting Partner options are very strong, and we knew to engage with a distinguished partner would give us capabilities and experience we didn't have," says Burgess. After evaluating several companies, the team chose to work with APN Premier Consulting Partner Flux7 to build its platform on AWS.
“From the beginning, it was clear that G6 wanted to build their architecture the right way with a focus on security while understanding how to prioritize their needs and take the right steps along the way,” says Matt Buchner, solutions architect at Flux7. “What got me excited about working with G6—and what still excites me—is how agile the company has been in understanding and embracing new priorities as they arise.”
Flux7’s focus on helping internal teams develop expertise proved crucial to G6. “Flux7 stood out to us given the way the company prioritizes training,” says Burgess. “Flux7 brought a training process and methodology to the table. They assigned homework to the team, embraced and insisted on questions during the daily standup, and provided hands-on training.”
"By focusing on DevOps throughout the cloud journey, we wanted to enable G6 to learn and take control of its footprint over time,” says Buchner. “Before we started our assessment with G6, we required that different teams were brought together in the same room to break down the notion of working in silos. That's what DevOps is all about. By doing this from the beginning, we were able to help them improve how they work together."
Flux7 kicked off the cloud migration process with G6 by discussing business requirements, holding architectural review meetings, and helping the G6 team understand what’s possible on the AWS platform when taking advantage of automation and DevOps. “Flux7 became a part of our team and was involved with our operation very closely,” says Burgess. “Though they are a separate entity, no one treated them as such. It felt like we were all in this journey together as they opened us up to the art of the possible on AWS.”
Taking Advantage of Automation and Microservices While Retiring On-Premises Servers
For G6, the ability to automate on AWS is a game-changer. “Having the breadth and depth of automation tools, templates, and guidance available from AWS and from APN Partners is tremendous,” says Burgess.
One of the first systems G6 moved to AWS was HotelKey PMS, its property management system used by hotel operators to run hotels. Running on AWS, HotelKey PMS can capture, queue, and stream operational events to an Amazon Aurora database and seamlessly feed data to the HotelKey advance BI platform. The company’s cloud PMS makes over 2.8 million daily API calls, processes 6.3 million distributed reservation system messages monthly, and makes over 50 million rate update calls per year.
“We had a legacy system that had been used for a long time that was slow, difficult to maintain, and couldn’t handle the volume of data we process using the cloud,” says Burgess. “Today, we use a cloud-based system that operates with iPads at the front desks of our hotels. With everything in the cloud, any of our nearly 1,400 general managers can buy or replace an iPad, download our app, and get back to work right away, serving our guests and making time-sensitive decisions regarding hotel operations.”
G6’s central reservations platform, the company’s core system central to many business processes, previously ran on a 20-year-old database that limited business functionality. The company worked with Above Property, a cloud-based travel software company, to build a new distributed reservation system (DRS). With the help of Flux7, G6 built a microservices-based architecture for its core platform using Amazon Elastic Kubernetes Service (Amazon EKS). Within two months of deploying its Above Property DRS system, G6 reduced Online Travel Reservation Agency (OTA) reservation synchronization errors by over 50 percent, reducing manual corrective actions performed by specialized call center agents by nearly 40 hours per week.
Underlying every decision the company makes on AWS is its focus on security. "Understanding what's already at your disposal on AWS, and understanding your responsibilities as a customer, is crucial," says Burgess. "We worked closely with Flux7 and AWS to get familiar with AWS-native tooling and AWS security best practices. We consistently review our security setup and configurations." Today, G6 uses a full range of cloud-native AWS security services in its AWS environment, including AWS CloudTrail, AWS Config with CIS benchmarks, AWS Key Management Service (KMS), AWS Identity and Access Management (IAM), AWS Secrets Manager, Amazon Inspector, Amazon GuardDuty, AWS WAF, and AWS Certificate Manager (ACM).
Changing the Way Technology is Viewed within the Organization Through IT 2.0
G6 has been running applications on AWS since 2017 and has continued to work with Flux7 to optimize and evolve its architecture on AWS. The company has been able to save substantial costs and increase uptime since moving core legacy systems to AWS.
"We've realized 100 percent uptime on our AWS cloud-based Above Property distributed reservation system since the initial deployment in 2017. That was not possible with our legacy on-premises CRS," says Burgess. The company's AWS-based system handles over 9 million transactions per day, responding to all rate, availability, booking, or modification requests. "Running on AWS, our system has already exceeded rates of over 500 transactions per second with seamless elasticity," says Burgess.
Lowering the cost of experimentation and barriers to innovation has helped G6 drive more rapid development. For example, the creation of service shells previously took G6 developers a couple of hours to perform each time. Through automation, this can now be done in a few minutes—driving increased productivity. “Being able to tell business leaders that we can implement a vision they have within two weeks, rather than six months, changes the way technology is viewed within the organization and changes the sense of engagement the technology team members have with business teams,” says Burgess.
The G6 teams are embracing the company’s cloud-first approach. "Our teams have embraced the cloud journey and the skills they've gained in training with Flux7," says Burgess. "We've seen a noticeable positive and enthusiastic spirit cultivated within our teams. I always stay excited about what’s ahead. I’m happy about what we’ve achieved so far, but I know we’re only scratching the surface of what we can achieve for the business.”
About G6 Hospitality
G6 Hospitality owns, operates, and franchises nearly 1,400 economy lodging locations under the Motel 6 and Studio 6 brands in the United States and Canada, and the Hotel 6 brand in India.
To meet rapidly changing customer expectations in a digital-first world, G6 knew it needed to promote a new technology mindset and culture throughout the company and use unique solutions to move faster, adapt quicker, and evolve in shorter iterations to realize its technology leadership objectives in the hospitality industry.
Concentrating on increasing the 'option value’ of its technology platforms, in which it can better anticipate ever-increasing evolution cycles of change within its industry, G6 developed and embarked on what it called its IT 2.0 strategy on AWS. After evaluating several companies, the team chose to work with APN Premier Consulting Partner Flux7 to build its platform on AWS.
G6 has been running applications on AWS since 2017 and has continued to work with Flux7 to optimize and evolve its architecture on AWS. The company has been able to save substantial costs and increase uptime since moving core legacy systems to AWS. For example, G6 has realized 100 percent uptime on its AWS cloud-based Above Property distributed reservation system since the initial deployment in 2017.
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