Traveltek Improves Uptime and Performance by Using Amazon RDS for MariaDB and Amazon EC2
As travel technology company Traveltek expanded, managing its hardware provisioning became increasingly difficult. The travel sector is a volatile industry with seasonal peaks in demand, and Traveltek’s data center hardware was aging and needed to be expanded to keep up with growth. Traveltek realized it would gain more scalability and flexibility in the long-term by migrating to the cloud, so it turned to Amazon Web Services (AWS).
Working alongside AWS Partner CirrusHQ, Traveltek migrated from using a managed data center provider and physical hardware to a fully cloud-based architecture on AWS. By using several AWS services—including Amazon Relational Database Service (Amazon RDS) for MariaDB, which makes it easy to set up, operate, and scale MariaDB server deployments in the cloud—Traveltek automated time-consuming administration tasks, improved application performance, reduced costs, and added flexible scalability.
Using AWS has given us the flexibility to handle an increasingly unpredictable and volatile operating environment in the travel industry.”
Chief Operating Officer, Traveltek
Outgrowing an Aging Physical Data Center
Founded in 2001, Traveltek connects travel booking agents with suppliers in the travel and tourism industry, such as airlines, hotels, and cruise operators. Booking agents use Traveltek’s software suite to search for, book, and administer trips for thousands of people. Traveltek’s software is used by over 100 businesses serving thousands of end users. Before its migration to the cloud in 2019, Traveltek served its customers using a physical data center supplemented by a range of managed services. The company had to invest in hardware based on approximations of what its peak demand would be—but making such approximations in an industry that fluctuates seasonally was difficult and costly. Underprovisioning resulted in customer downtime; however, overprovisioning meant higher outlay and ongoing monthly costs. Self-managing databases and scaling proved vastly inefficient as the company grew. “As the company added more customers and as those customers got more successful, it became a challenge to run all our services from fixed physical infrastructure,” says Stuart Cotterell, chief operating officer of Traveltek.
The company wanted to find a solution but needed to avoid interrupting service to customers. Initially, Traveltek considered migrating its customers one at a time from its existing application infrastructure to a new one. “It became very clear to us that the timelines around that solution were just not feasible,” Cotterell says. “It was going to take us 7–8 years—or 3–4 if we were optimistic.” Looking for a faster alternative, Traveltek decided to take a different approach and migrate its current architecture to the cloud. Already an AWS customer since 2018, Traveltek looked to AWS for the transition. “Migrating to AWS was a natural progression,” says Cotterell.
Increasing Scalability and Performance in the Cloud
Working with CirrusHQ, which designs and manages customer AWS cloud systems, Traveltek condensed what would have been a yearslong migration process into about 7 months. Starting the process in June 2020, the company achieved full migration to the cloud by January 2021. CirrusHQ helped Traveltek first to assess the feasibility of migrating its application to the cloud, then to architect and migrate the new solution to AWS. Because of the complexity of Traveltek’s system, CirrusHQ architected the solution by implementing and testing one step at a time. “We left the application architecture as intact as possible and used AWS to migrate—and did it in a much faster way,” Cotterell says.
Traveltek kept its existing databases running during the migration and stayed closely connected with its customers, so the transition occurred in an organic manner with minimal downtime. The company also sought feedback from customers during the implementation of its new solution. “A lot of the customers got involved in testing the functionality. They could see that it was running on AWS and report what they were seeing,” says John Walker, team lead at CirrusHQ.
The databases that Traveltek’s application uses were migrated to Amazon RDS for MariaDB. Previously, Traveltek had to perform database administration manually or through a ticket system. Now, it uses Amazon RDS for MariaDB to automate these time-consuming tasks. “We had someone who spent 90 percent of their time just managing and handling the database and data center environment,” says Cotterell. Using AWS has freed Traveltek employees to focus on innovation and growing the company rather than database and server maintenance.
Around 50 servers running Traveltek’s application were migrated to Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2), which provides secure, resizable compute capacity in the cloud. Amazon EC2 handles the front-end websites, backend processing, and journey booking capabilities of Traveltek’s software, among other things. To manage its large number of client websites, the company uses Amazon Elastic File System (Amazon EFS), which provides a simple, serverless elastic file system that lets users share file data without provisioning or managing storage. Using AWS provides flexibility for Traveltek by provisioning the number of instances needed at any given time without the company needing to constantly scale up and down its hardware to meet demand. “With the elasticity that we gain by using AWS, we can handle the seasonality of the industry and climb for future growth as well,” says Cotterell.
Migrating to AWS has improved the performance of Traveltek’s application with some key pages within the application loading up to 50 percent faster. The improvement means that Traveltek customers can complete tasks—such as booking or changing a trip—more quickly. The migration has also resulted in a more stable system with fewer outages and other interruptions. “Using AWS has given us the flexibility to handle an increasingly unpredictable and volatile operating environment in the travel industry,” says Cotterell.
Migrating to the cloud saved Traveltek from a significant one-off capital improvement expense and decreased the company’s monthly costs. “We avoided at least a six-figure cost on actual hardware,” says Cotterell. “And the pay-as-you-go structure on AWS gives us the flexibility to scale up or down, which is something we didn’t have before.” Having more flexibility also benefited Traveltek when the COVID-19 pandemic changed how the company’s customers used its services and amplified the need for scalability. “Rather than lots of holiday searches, we saw a lot of people rebooking or canceling previous bookings,” says Cotterell. “We’ve been able to handle the changes in demand that we’ve seen with the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Rearchitecting for the Future
Moving forward, Traveltek plans to rearchitect its applications to be cloud native so that the company can take advantage of a more extensive set of AWS services, including its suite of machine learning services. The company has found AWS to be not only responsive in reacting to requests for support but also proactive in offering resources to help the company grow as it moves forward. “Our work alongside AWS has been nothing short of fantastic,” says Gareth Davies, head of production platform and enablement at Traveltek.
Traveltek is a global travel technology company that connects travel booking agents with suppliers in the travel and tourism industry. Agents can use the company’s software suite to search for, book, and administer trips using various travel suppliers.
Benefits of AWS
- Improved application page load times by up to 50%
- Decreased number of yearly outages and interruptions
- Increased scaling flexibility
- Avoided a six-figure cost of hardware
- Maintains low monthly costs through a pay-as-you-go system
- Saved employee time previously spent self-managing physical databases and servers
AWS Services Used
Amazon Relational Database Service (Amazon RDS) makes it easy to set up, operate, and scale a relational database in the cloud.
Amazon RDS for MariaDB
Amazon Relational Database Service (Amazon RDS) for MariaDB makes it easy to set up, operate, and scale MariaDB databases in the cloud.
Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) is a web service that provides secure, resizable compute capacity in the cloud. It is designed to make web-scale cloud computing easier for developers.
Amazon Elastic File System (Amazon EFS) provides a simple, scalable, fully managed elastic NFS file system for use with AWS Cloud services and on-premises resources.
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