Acoustic Migrates 6,300 Servers and 8 Full Stack SaaS Applications to AWS in Only 10 Months

Executive Summary

Acoustic needed to upgrade its IT infrastructure, including 6,300 servers, large complex data management workloads, and 8 full-stack applications. ClearScale collaborated with Acoustic leadership to propose a comprehensive migration and modernization project to Amazon Web Services (AWS). The project was a tremendous success, thanks to the collaboration between Acoustic and ClearScale. Acoustic achieved the significant savings it desired by avoiding multiple expensive renewal fees from its legacy hosting provider. And, in addition to a more cost-efficient infrastructure, Acoustic is building new revenue by creating a pay-per-use SaaS model.

The Challenge

To meet its ambitious goals, Acoustic needed to upgrade its IT infrastructure on several fronts. The company wanted to have a more agile development and deployment process. Acoustic also wanted to have a more highly available solution than what was possible with its on-premises data centers. Additionally, the company was spending significantly more than desired on inflexible licenses and enterprise software. Acoustic also envisioned adding capabilities that would enable its platform to offer trial subscriptions and take advantage of pay-per-use billing. Acoustic realized that it needed to remove its dependencies on legacy hosting and database management vendors to meet all these objectives. Eliminating its legacy dependencies would also make it easier for Acoustic to achieve modernization opportunities.

Achieving these goals would be challenging. Acoustic’s legacy infrastructure consisted of:

  • More than 6,300 servers – both virtual and physical
  • Large, complex data management workloads
  • 8 full-stack applications

Moving these assets to the cloud required migrating from 12 data centers, and it would have to be accomplished on an ambitious timeline. Acoustic didn’t want to renew the contract with its large hosting provider—a multi-million-dollar fee. Avoiding that expense meant Acoustic had to migrate from its existing hosting provider in less than 10 months. Such an endeavor would typically take at least two years to complete.

Given the scope of the project, Acoustic wanted to work closely with an experienced cloud migration expert. However, ClearScale, an AWS Premier Consulting Partner, collaborated with Acoustic leadership to propose a more comprehensive migration and modernization project to Amazon Web Services (AWS). With the team in place, it was time to move forward.

The Solution

This was a massive project that required a joint effort between ClearScale and Acoustic. It began with an in-depth analysis of Acoustic’s data, workloads, and applications. In addition to technology, the project also involved assessments on IT processes, people and skills, security and compliance practice, and cloud operations. To achieve Acoustic’s multiple business goals, the team constructed a phased approach.

Phase 1 – Migrate to the Cloud

The first phase consisted of a migration from the existing infrastructure to AWS, with a subset of refactoring, to meet specific cost optimization targets. Phase one required careful planning, team coordination, and detailed research into the customer’s existing application infrastructure, deployment processes, monitoring and alerting frameworks, and data persistence tier. The team then presented a migration strategy with preliminary architecture and cost estimates to Acoustic’s leadership team. The roadmap aligned closely with Acoustic’s goals and vision, giving the company complete confidence for the migration journey under such a condensed timeline.

The teams utilized AWS’s Migration Acceleration Program (MAP), a three-step approach for migrating assets successfully to the cloud. In the first step, organizations go through a Migration Readiness Assessment (MRA) to determine their preparedness for adopting cloud capabilities. In the second step, Migration Readiness & Planning (MRP), teams establish the foundation needed to migrate successfully and build a compelling business case explaining why it makes sense to proceed. In the third step, organizations execute their migration plan, which is where ClearScale’s extensive migration background proved especially important for Acoustic.

Phase 2 – Modernize Application

The second phase of the project consisted of a comprehensive modernization plan. Drawing on ClearScale’s experience in modernization of tightly coupled applications, the team was able to build out a comprehensive plan to achieve this goal. This plan involved rearchitecting the platform by decomposing large applications into many smaller microservices that are independently deployable, scalable, and follow their own lifecycles. Refactoring and modernizing an application of this scale takes careful planning, design, and implementation. ClearScale’s Solutions Architects worked closely with Acoustic’s engineers and architecture team to dive deep into each of Acoustic’s business processes.

New architecture diagrams and documentation were created for each component of the solution. Business processes were carefully analyzed and logical divisions between processes were established. For each business process, a new microservice or services were constructed to implement existing workflows and business requirements. Legacy code and business logic were reused wherever possible to reduce the time to market of the new solution. In some cases, process optimizations were identified and implemented, further increasing performance and reducing operational costs of the solution. Detailed implementation and migration plans were developed and carefully executed to ensure continuity of business and successfully migrate to the new system.

Another important shift in the modernization effort was to establish a central application message bus and migrate existing, batch-based processes to quicker, more efficient executions. This provided Acoustic an increase in overall performance while reducing the cost of the implementation. It also allowed for higher resiliency by improving processing and allowing smaller units of work to be executed and retried upon failures.

The comprehensive modernization solution also included the design and implementation of a custom data lake. The data lake contained information from streaming sources, customer provided data files, databases, and other sources. Leveraging the power of AWS resources such as AWS Glue, AWS EMR, Amazon Athena, and Amazon Redshift, the team constructed a powerful data lake. This data lake allowed Acoustic to not only reduce its existing dependencies on Oracle, but also provide new opportunities for analyzing and optimizing existing workflows, and finding new revenue streams for existing data.

Collaborative Transformation

Given high complexity and aggressive timelines, each execution team needed to work as one cohesive unit to leverage the strengths of every member. Each team was unique and customized to the application being migrated/modernized. Acoustic resources were placed where their tribal knowledge was essential. ClearScale resources were placed where application modernization and cloud expertise made the most impact. Collaborative execution and team composition was the secret sauce that enabled transformation at this scale and velocity.

The companies agreed on a joint execution plan that involved focusing resources in areas that produced the most efficient results. Modernization efforts were prioritized based on level of risk to the migration timeline. Risks were analyzed based on application complexity, maturity of the architecture, and level of assumptions/unknowns. This was a fluid process and leadership alignment with execution teams was crucial for delivering the most value within the given constraints. Application Discovery/Design was ongoing and iterative, so priorities were updated and reviewed on a regular basis.

To ensure a timely exit from Acoustic’s large hosting provider, high risk components were migrated under the lift-and-shift pattern. These components would retain their existing configuration management (puppet/chef) and CI/CD pipelines until the Phase 2 modernization effort. Acoustic resources focused on deployment and configuration of these components with ClearScale supporting infrastructure codification using Terraform. Examples of this are several tightly coupled business processes backed by a complex legacy Oracle database.

There were also several new services developed as part of the Phase 1 migration. ClearScale designed and implemented a subscription service, a customer SSO service integrated with Okta, and the billing metrics generator service. Acoustic developers worked on building a completely new UI that consolidated the products into one easy to navigate interface.

These were core services shared by all products and applications. This was the foundation for unifying the products into a single platform. The new services were designed for modern cloud native architecture and run in an active-active configuration across multiple regions.

In parallel to the technical work, operational readiness efforts were also undertaken. After careful evaluation of operational processes, the teams identified two areas that needed to be revised. ClearScale guided key Acoustic resources to redefine release management and incident management and implement the processes across all product teams. This, along with a standardized CI/CD pipeline library and security and compliance processes, provided just the right level of controls and governance for the forward-thinking Acoustic leadership team.

Just before the products started going live on AWS, the team created an operational support team to manage production requests and resolve incidents. Once the migration milestone of exiting its large hosting provider’s data center was achieved on schedule, the Acoustic operations teams joined forces with the ClearScale operational support team. The ClearScale engineers provided knowledge transfer sessions and walked the Acoustic engineers through key operational tasks. Acoustic quickly ramped up and handled all requests for Dev and QA environments with the guidance of ClearScale. The company then handed over production support and stayed on for escalations only. This approach allowed for an expedient transition through a hands-on approach.

The Benefits

The project was a tremendous success, thanks to the collaboration between Acoustic and ClearScale. Acoustic achieved the significant savings it desired by avoiding multiple expensive renewal fees from its legacy hosting provider. And, in addition to a more cost-efficient infrastructure, Acoustic is building new revenue by creating a pay per use SaaS model.

Acoustic’s new cloud infrastructure is also much more agile. The company’s development team can deploy infrastructure on demand and leverage a new common CI/CD library to improve the time to market for new products and features. Additionally, analysts can pull cost reporting data for each marketing product to study performance trends and identify new market opportunities.

With these capabilities, Acoustic is positioned for long-term success as the marketing technology leader in today’s fast-moving global marketplace. The company was able to avoid a massive renewal fee, break ties from legacy IT dependencies, migrate to a leading cloud platform, and modernize its infrastructure to leverage advanced cloud technologies.


About Acoustic

Acoustic is a marketing technology company that provides a suite of tools to help companies reach their customers more effectively. The firm offers a wide array of solutions, from marketing automation integrations to mobile marketing capabilities and everything in between. Today, Acoustic serves more than 3,500 brands all over the world, including Fortune 500 companies.

About ClearScale

ClearScale is a cloud-native systems integration, strategic consulting, and application development company founded in 2011. The company designs, builds, integrates, and manages complex infrastructures and applications on AWS exclusively. ClearScale has successfully delivered more than 900 cloud projects for customers ranging from startups to large enterprises and public sector organizations.

Published May 2021