SERVPRO Supported Innovation While Cutting Costs and Time to Market by Migrating to AWS
In 2017, reconstruction and restoration company SERVPRO had a vision to deliver better value to customers by breaking free of its on-premises infrastructure and migrating to the cloud. The company, which has increased sales revenue every year since 2000, knew that to continue providing high-quality service to its franchise customers, it would need to move on from its monolithic on-premises data center. It migrated to Amazon Web Services (AWS), where it not only improved the customer experience but also realized costs savings and accelerated speed to market.
Whatever we need, we can build it out very quickly with the tools that AWS has—faster than we could have on our own.”
Senior Vice President and Chief Information Officer,
Pursuing Scalable Growth on the Cloud
SERVPRO began as a family-owned painting company in 1967, and over the decades, it added more lines of business to serve the cleanup and restoration industry and expanded through franchises. SERVPRO is now involved in water, fire, mold, and biohazard remediation and construction, commercial services, and cleaning. Headquartered in Tennessee, it has over 1,900 franchises in the United States and Canada.
Before the migration, SERVPRO had primary and backup data centers that came with a lot of overhead and capital expense. Data was being transferred to the data centers every 10 minutes to keep systems in sync. Getting servers up and running was time consuming and costly. Whenever the company added new hardware or made changes to its primary data center, it had to repeat the process in the backup data center. These processes were an obstacle for a company that wanted to expand high-performing services to a growing international network of franchises.
The company began evaluating cloud options, and in 2018, it chose AWS for the breadth of its technology offerings and experience with similar migration projects. SERVPRO’s goal was to migrate all its major applications out of the on-premises data centers to AWS by the end of 2020. At the recommendation of the AWS team, SERVPRO engaged Logicworks—an AWS Partner that has a team of certified engineers who design, automate, and manage custom AWS infrastructure—for guidance.
Supporting the Migration with Flexibility and Executive Buy-In
In addition to understanding the value of acquiring outside help, SERVPRO learned that flexibility and executive buy-in were key to the success of its migration. SERVPRO and Logicworks originally planned to migrate all the applications at once. However, SERVPRO had 180 applications and was concerned that a simultaneous migration would interrupt service to customers. Because it knew its customers’ needs best and was engaged in the process alongside Logicworks, the company was able to flag this potential risk. SERVPRO and Logicworks adjusted their plan and migrated one small bundle of applications every 1–2 weeks, completing the migration in March 2021. By migrating applications in smaller bundles, SERVPRO saw no business interruption to its customers.
This migration strategy empowered the migration team to demonstrate success throughout the process, reinforcing executive buy-in—another hallmark of the successful migration. “Companies doing complex migrations need executive buy-in so that leadership will understand whether a piece of the strategy has to change,” says Jeff Fields, senior vice president and chief information officer of SERVPRO. When it was acquired in 2019 by the Blackstone Group, a private equity firm, SERVPRO needed approval to continue the migration and was able to present the migration road map, the expected business benefits, and the financials over a 5-year period plus the return on investment. “After we shared that with the Blackstone Group leaders, they gave us the green light because they saw the business value,” says Fields. From there, SERVPRO continued migrating and optimizing for cost and time savings on AWS.
Decreasing Costs and Time to Market While Boosting Performance on AWS
SERVPRO reduced costs by relying on usage-based AWS services. “We see predictable cost patterns as long as we monitor the infrastructure and adjust it according to our needs,” says Fields. Both the database and storage that SERVPRO uses on AWS can be optimized for cost effectiveness. The company uses Amazon Aurora, a MySQL- and PostgreSQL-compatible relational database built for the cloud. It also migrated its large storage system to Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3), an object storage service offering industry-leading scalability, data availability, security, and performance. “The key to cost savings on AWS is to have a continual process to monitor and adjust your infrastructure across environments,” says Fields. When it was using data centers, SERVPRO had no control over fixed hardware and software expenses. By monitoring infrastructure on AWS, the company can identify areas for optimization and make necessary adjustments to reduce costs and meet its business objectives.
On AWS, SERVPRO can now roll out products much faster. A new environment spins up in 1 hour or less, compared to days previously. During the migration, the company refactored its applications for a microservices architecture, which made the applications simpler to scale and faster to develop, supporting innovation and accelerating speed to market. “Whatever we need, we can build it out very quickly with the tools that AWS has—faster than we could have on our own,” says Fields. For example, during the COVID-19 pandemic, SERVPRO used AWS to develop the logistics and ecommerce capabilities needed to bring ServprOXIDE, a hospital-grade disinfectant, to the Amazon Business store in less than 60 days.
SERVPRO uses several AWS services to automatically scale applications and deliver them with high availability and performance to its network of franchises. The company takes advantage of Elastic Load Balancing, which automatically distributes incoming application traffic across multiple targets and virtual appliances in one or more Availability Zones. “On AWS, we have more stability with our franchises, and we have more power and opportunity to build out more servers and expand our network,” says Fields. Those franchises also enjoy high performance of applications because SERVPRO uses AWS Direct Connect, which lets companies create dedicated network connections to AWS, bypassing the internet to deliver more consistent, lower-latency performance.
“SERVPRO is a great example of Blackstone’s cloud-first strategy for its portfolio companies. At Blackstone, we view cloud as a platform for innovation and growth," said Bob Barthelmes, managing director of Blackstone.
Planning for Continued Growth and Innovation on AWS
SERVPRO’s next project is to update its Customer Care Center with a cloud-native solution such as Amazon Connect, a simple-to-use omnichannel cloud contact center that supports users in providing superior customer service at a lower cost. It also plans to modernize some of its older applications that it lifted and shifted during the migration to AWS.
On AWS, SERVPRO completed a complex migration that was the cornerstone of its business strategy for growth and innovation. In doing so, it cut costs, accelerated speed to market, streamlined innovation, and improved service for its customers. “It takes a village to get this done,” says Fields. “Sometimes it means taking a little bit of risk. But we mitigated that risk by planning, and using AWS was helpful in that.”
SERVPRO is involved in water, fire, mold, and biohazard remediation and construction, commercial services, and cleaning. Headquartered in Tennessee, it has more than 1,900 individually owned and operated franchises in the United States and Canada.
Benefits of AWS
- Drove cost savings
- Spins up an environment in 1 hour or less, compared to days
- Accelerated speed to market
- Supports innovation
- Built logistics and ecommerce capabilities in under 60 days
AWS Services Used
Amazon Aurora is a MySQL and PostgreSQL-compatible relational database built for the cloud that combines the performance and availability of traditional enterprise databases with the simplicity and cost-effectiveness of open source databases.
Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3) is an object storage service offering industry-leading scalability, data availability, security, and performance.
Elastic Load Balancing
Elastic Load Balancing automatically distributes incoming application traffic across multiple targets and virtual appliances in one or more Availability Zones.
AWS Direct Connect
AWS Direct Connect is a dedicated network connection to AWS, helping to reduce costs, increase bandwidth, and provide a more consistent network experience.
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