Instead of spending four to six weeks to get code into production, we’re doing between four and six software deployments every day. Using AWS, we are testing new features faster and getting them to customers faster.
Maxx Lobo Vice President of Platform & Cloud Services, IAC Publishing

In mid-2016, IAC Publishing found itself at a crossroads. While its overall business was growing, the company’s portfolio of content brands was still hosted in data centers that hindered agility. “We had separate data centers and software-development teams for each of our business units,” says Maxx Lobo, vice president of platform and cloud services for IAC Publishing. “That contributed to bottlenecks, because there were so many handoff processes from one end of the development chain to the other. In some cases, code that was written today could take up to six weeks to get into production. We needed more flexibility to be more competitive in the online publishing space.”

IAC Publishing also wanted to extend its DevOps model of collaboration to improve software development and delivery. “To support DevOps, we wanted to move from the virtual machine and monolithic software-development model to the current paradigm of containers and microservices. This required more automation than we had in place,” says Lobo. In addition to the need for agility and automation, the company sought to lower its operating costs. “We needed a hardware refresh in our data centers, and that potential capital investment was daunting,” Lobo says. “To address all our business needs, we decided to move to the public cloud.” 

IAC Publishing considered cloud solutions from Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud, but ultimately chose to move its websites to the Amazon Web Services (AWS) Cloud. “AWS has a leadership position and is significantly more mature in the cloud space,” says Robert Brathwaite, senior vice president of site hosting and operations for IAC Publishing. “Additionally, our parent company has had a long and successful web-hosting relationship with AWS, and that gave us more confidence.”

IAC Publishing needed migration assistance because it wanted to move its five businesses to the cloud in a short time frame. “Our CEO challenged us to get the migration completed in 12 months, which was a tight deadline,” says Lobo. To meet the deadline, IAC Publishing leaned on the AWS Enterprise Support team for help.

Enterprise Support helped IAC Publishing participate in the AWS Migration Acceleration Program (MAP), which includes consulting support, training, and migration services. As part of the MAP process, the AWS team guided IAC Publishing through readiness assessment, planning, and migration phases. By the end of the process, which was completed in less than 12 months, IAC Publishing had moved all five of its business units—more than 50 websites—to AWS. “The AWS Enterprise Support team was instrumental in helping us understand how we could take this on-premises monolith and transition into our new automated approach,” says Lobo.

The new IAC environment is based on Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) instances and uses Amazon Elastic Block Store (Amazon EBS) to provide persistent block storage for Amazon EC2 instances. IAC Publishing also uses Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3) to store objects and images, AWS Elastic Beanstalk to deploy and scale applications, and Amazon EC2 Container Service (Amazon ECS) to manage Docker containers and run applications on Amazon EC2 clusters. 

By moving its websites to AWS, IAC Publishing gained the agility it needs to be more competitive as an online publisher. “Previously, we had a data-center environment with finite systems that made it difficult for us to move quickly. Now, we can spin up multiple QA environments instantly on the AWS Cloud to do regression and performance tests in parallel,” says Brathwaite. “We’re much more agile, and that fully supports our DevOps approach. One development team doesn’t have to wait for another to finish testing before doing their own testing.”

With the ability to be more agile, IAC Publishing has greatly improved its time to market for new features for any of its more than 50 web properties. “Instead of spending four to six weeks to get code into production, we’re doing between four and six software deployments every day,” Lobo says. “Using AWS, we are testing new features faster and getting them to customers faster.”

One of the biggest impacts of the switch to AWS for IAC Publishing was a reduction in operational costs—to the tune of $15 million. “We can do more with less in the cloud,” says Lobo. “With our shared service model, we are no longer just a massive cost center for each of our businesses. We are investing in automation by being on AWS, and we can provide more value to our internal customers now.”

Additionally, “the company can more effectively recruit new team members” says Brathwaite. “But, we are also seeing more job applications from engineers who want to work here. Software developers like to work on the latest technologies—such as AWS—and we can offer them that opportunity. That will serve our business well as we keep growing.”

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