John Holland Migrates to the AWS Cloud in Just 7 Months


Innovation at Its Core

For John Holland, innovation has always been at the core of its construction and infrastructure business. From humble beginnings 70 years ago, the company is credited with some of the nation’s landmark projects, including Parliament House and the new Sydney Metro launched in 2019—Australia’s first driverless metro train network.

In 2017, the group made a strategic decision to exit its on-premises data centres to improve IT agility and reduce costs. It turned to Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Versent, an AWS Premier Consulting Partner in the AWS Partner Network (APN), to perform the cloud migration, setting a stretch target of just seven months to move some 200 workloads.

Despite the tight timelines, John Holland was able to migrate all 200 enterprise workloads and decommission more than 100 legacy systems on time and under budget.

  • About John Holland
  • John Holland is one of Australia’s leading integrated infrastructure and property companies, responsible for major projects such as the Sydney Metro. Founded 70 years ago, the company focuses on creating people-centred solutions to complex challenges and opportunities. John Holland also manages projects in New Zealand and Southeast Asia.

  • Benefits
    • Migrated 200 enterprise workloads to the cloud in 7 months
    • Improved resiliency of business-critical applications
    • Reduced IT costs and achieved migration under budget
    • Improved staff agility and enablement
    • Shortened time to market and service cycles


  • AWS Services Used

On Time and Under Budget

Rather than simply adopting a “lift and shift” strategy, a plan was devised to rebuild 50 per cent of all workloads—mostly critical business applications—from the ground up. This way, John Holland would maximise the benefits of cloud-native automation and improve the resiliency of core foundational platforms.

“You can’t just press a button and have everything jump into AWS and be perfect, but there are a lot of ways to make it faster and more efficient,” says Micah Smith, general manager at Versent. Migration teams focused on accelerating the migration of modern applications as well as “hard to dislodge” legacy systems, which comprised about half of John Holland’s workloads.

Once migrated workloads were up and running, the team continued optimising usage patterns to bring down costs even further, demonstrating how the promise of the cloud doesn’t end with migration. Despite the tight timelines, John Holland was able to migrate all 200 enterprise workloads and decommission more than 100 legacy systems on time and under budget. “Delivering a project of this magnitude doesn’t come without its daily challenges, and to do it ahead of schedule and under budget is a phenomenal result,” says Chris Walsh, CIO at John Holland.

Agility and Empowerment

In addition to cost savings, migration to the AWS Cloud has increased staff agility. A Cloud Operations Infrastructure team has been formed at John Holland, under the wing of Versent’s Managed Services team, to guide the company through further optimisations and the next phase of its cloud journey. The group has already improved its time to market with more efficient service cycles.

“Our agility to go to market and being able to quickly and seamlessly change and improve the way we deliver IT services to support the growth of the John Holland business has led to outstanding results,” says Lia Taylor, CTO at John Holland. The commitment and engagement of executives were key to the success of the project, in addition to the pragmatic delivery approach to cloud migration. John Holland has begun a new phase of digital transformation on the AWS Cloud and continues to seek ways to increase automation and reduce running costs.