Les Mills

Les Mills Strengthens Its Commitment to Create a Fitter Planet with AWS

2020

Global Expansion with Minimal Overhead

Workout and gym enthusiasts across the world are likely familiar with BODYPUMP weightlifting classes or BODYCOMBAT cardio-boxing. What gymgoers may not realize is that these programs, along with a host of other choreographed group fitness routines, originate from a family-run company in New Zealand. For 52 years, Les Mills International has pursued its mission of enabling a fitter society with its digital programs offered by over 20,000 health clubs worldwide.

Most of Les Mills’s customers are in Europe, the US, and China. As the company grew, its IT team realized that on-demand, serverless architecture was the best choice for the scalability they needed to support global expansion with minimal overhead. Les Mills maintains a lean IT team and didn’t want to add more engineers to maintain new infrastructure, especially abroad, or invest in costly licensing without proof of future returns. In 2017, the company began migrating its customer-facing workloads from virtual machines to the Amazon Web Services (AWS) Cloud. “AWS really stood out for its serverless capabilities, so we could experiment and prove the value of a new service before scaling, developing, and growing it,” explains Anthony Naulls, head of technology at Les Mills International.

Reduces cost of identity platform by 50%
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AWS really stood out for its serverless capabilities, so we could experiment and prove the value of a new service before scaling, developing, and growing it.

Anthony Naulls
Head of Technology, Les Mills

Upgrading DevOps Skill Sets

Today, AWS is the backbone of the Les Mills API platform that powers its digital products. With AWS, the company has a central place for building APIs and microservices that can be integrated with open-source tools. Teams have always applied an agile approach to development but have introduced a more deeply ingrained DevOps culture with AWS Cloud–native services for automation and a continuous integration and continuous development (CICD) pipeline.

Engineers have been upgrading their DevOps toolbelts with the help of Deloitte New Zealand, a Premier Consulting Partner in the Amazon Partner Network (APN). Les Mills began working with Deloitte on targeted migration projects at the start of its cloud journey and has benefited from the consultancy’s technical expertise and in-depth industry knowledge. “The Deloitte team has been great at providing DevOps maturity to help us get on our feet and embrace the AWS Cloud by upskilling our developers,” Naulls says.

Historically, Les Mills had been outsourcing most of its development to contractors or software-as-a-service providers. This legacy environment limited the company’s ability to innovate cost-effectively at speed. Building more DevOps competency would allow Les Mills to bring control in-house. This was important for the company to be able to pivot according to changing market requirements, avoid vendor lock-in, and respond nimbly during a crisis.

Migrating a Legacy Identity Platform

One of the projects that Les Mills collaborated with Deloitte on was rearchitecting its identity platform solution, which is the entry portal to Les Mills content for its 200,000 global instructors, health club partners, and individual subscribers. The third-party contract for its previous legacy system was expiring, and Les Mills wanted to reduce costs with a more flexible single-sign-on (SSO) solution that it could control independently. The ability to manage its identity platform in-house supports Les Mills’s global expansion plans, because engineers can easily scale to add new users and immediately troubleshoot to ensure a consistent customer experience.

In just six months, Les Mills delivered a new, cloud-native SSO solution, with improved functionality including a more user-friendly password reset process. “The migration process was smooth and transparent,” Naulls says. “We decommissioned an expensive legacy platform but were able to maintain the same look and feel for our users, which was critical.”

Saving 50% of Platform Costs with Infrastructure as Code

The new identity platform is fully serverless, using AWS CodeCommit to run infrastructure as code and Amazon CloudWatch for security analysis and audits of application logs. Any changes or updates are automatically deployed across testing and production environments using managed CICD services such as AWS CodeBuild and AWS CodePipeline. The overall solution is more reliable with automated end-to-end testing, and it costs 50 percent less to build and maintain than the former identity platform.

By simplifying its login process, Les Mills has made it easier for clubs to access brand marketing materials and manage instructors and classes. Clubs have a streamlined access point for content, and Les Mills can better engage them with new products that add value and ultimately increase revenue for both the company and its partners.

Low-Risk Experimentation Supports Innovation

DevOps engineers at Les Mills are enjoying the fast pace of iteration on the AWS Cloud and the ability to try new services with minimal risk. One example is a service that clubs can use to track attendance at group fitness classes, which helps them market to new members or retain existing ones. “Innovations like this visibly demonstrate our value to our partners and help us attract new customers,” says Naulls.

Engineers continue to experiment with AWS products to evolve their digital product offerings securely and inexpensively. Together with the Deloitte support team, they follow technical blogs and have frequent discussions about the potential applications of new technology in their environment. One example is Amazon EventBridge, which Les Mills recently adopted as a serverless tool that delivers real-time data streams from various event sources.

“By using AWS, we’re able to experiment more and bring real improvements to our solid core suite of existing products, such as revolutionizing our integration layer to replace legacy tools,” Naulls concludes.


About Les Mills International

Les Mills International offers digital exercise routines choreographed to upbeat music. Its customers include fitness instructors, health clubs, and individuals around the world. Les Mills is a family-run business founded more than 50 years ago in New Zealand.

Benefits

  • Reduces cost of identity platform by 50%
  • Gains flexibility to experiment with minimum risk
  • Brings IT control in-house while improving DevOps practices
  • Automates end-to-end testing with infrastructure as code

AWS Services Used

AWS CodeCommit

AWS CodeCommit is a fully-managed source control service that hosts secure Git-based repositories.

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AWS CodeBuild

AWS CodeBuild is a fully managed continuous integration service that compiles source code, runs tests, and produces software packages that are ready to deploy.

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AWS CodePipeline

AWS CodePipeline is a fully managed continuous delivery service that helps you automate your release pipelines for fast and reliable application and infrastructure updates.

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Amazon EventBridge

Amazon EventBridge is a serverless event bus that makes it easy to connect applications together using data from your own applications, integrated Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) applications, and AWS services.

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