Thomas Publishing Case Study


Founded in 1898, Thomas Publishing Company connects manufacturing buyers and suppliers worldwide. For buyers, Thomas offers timely and comprehensive content and data about industrial products and suppliers. For suppliers, the company provides proprietary technology and platforms to fill sales pipelines and increase marketplace exposure. Thomas offers print and web-based content including buying guides and magazines as well as, a website that connects buyers and sellers.

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After moving to AWS, we were able to shut down our largest data center, eliminating hundreds of thousands of dollars in associated real estate, facility operations, and power and cooling costs.”

Hans Wald
Chief Technology Officer, Thomas Publishing

The Challenge

To stay competitive, Thomas Publishing strives to launch new products frequently. However, the company wanted the agility to bring its offerings to market faster.

“We relied on on-premises data centers, and we didn’t want the costs of operating those ourselves and trying to maintain high uptime for our products,” says Hans Wald, CTO of Thomas Publishing. “Rather than putting resources into our data centers, we wanted to invest more in improving our products.”

Thomas also wanted to upgrade its Oracle E-Business Suite (EBS) applications. “We knew we had to create temporary new environments to support the upgrade, but we didn’t want to have to procure new hardware in order to have the capacity to do it,” Wald says.

Similarly, Thomas needed a better way to take advantage of newer infrastructure to increase the performance of its additional Oracle applications and database technologies without the need for investment in physical hardware. “We depend on Oracle for our core content management and publishing systems, and demand for faster production schedules and reduced processing times is growing fast. Using the best infrastructure allows us to get the most out of Oracle without having to scale up Oracle CPU licenses.”

Why Amazon Web Services

Seeking to reduce operational costs and maintenance while smoothly upgrading its Oracle environment, Thomas chose the Amazon Web Services (AWS) Cloud platform. “AWS was by far the most attractive option for us, as far as the services and the flexibility of the platform are concerned,” says Wald.

After deciding to move to AWS, Thomas was introduced to Apps Associates, an AWS Premier Consulting Partner that provides global business and IT services. “We liked the fact that Apps Associates had a lot of experience moving Oracle databases and applications to AWS,” Wald says.

Apps Associates initially helped Thomas migrate its Oracle EBS platform to AWS. Thomas runs Oracle EBS on Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) instances. The company also uses Elastic Load Balancing to distribute traffic across its Amazon EC2 instances.

Next, Thomas moved its website onto AWS. Wald says, “Our first AWS solutions were very successful for us, so we felt confident moving additional parts of our environment to AWS.”

Thomas then chose to migrate its key content management and publishing applications to Amazon Aurora on Amazon Relational Database Service (Amazon RDS). Amazon Aurora is a fully managed, MySQL-compatible relational database engine, and Amazon RDS provides administration for Amazon Aurora by managing database tasks such as provisioning, patching, and backup and recovery.

“We wanted to move to Aurora, and we felt we could migrate our database schema and data, but we were concerned about migrating our code,” says Wald. “We thought we might have to refactor our code into something that could run on a different application server.”

Apps Associates has developed proprietary migration tools based on years of experience and deep Oracle expertise. Using these tools and the Amazon RDS Migration and AWS Schema Conversion Tools, both part of the AWS Database Migration Service, Apps Associates successfully converted the Thomas Publishing content management and publishing application schema, database, and code to Aurora.

“The data migration was seamless and easy using the AWS Schema Conversion Tools,” says Wald. “The code migration was the complex part, but it definitely exceeded our expectations for minimizing the amount of manual effort required.”

The Benefits

Since moving to AWS, Thomas Publishing has significantly reduced its costs. “After moving to AWS, we were able to shut down our largest data center, eliminating hundreds of thousands of dollars in associated real estate, facility operations, and power and cooling costs,” says Wald.

The company also gained the agility to bring new products to market faster. “Traditionally, if we wanted to build a new website to publish new product information, we would spend a lot of time on infrastructure design, hardware procurement, and implementation and provisioning,” says Wald. “Using AWS, our developers can spin up resources for a new website in one day, instead of the weeks it used to take. As a result, we can publish new product information for our customers faster.”

Additionally, Thomas easily migrated key applications to Aurora, with help from Apps Associates and its expertise as well as the Amazon RDS Migration Tool and Schema Conversion Tool. “Using the Amazon tools to migrate our code from SQL Server into Aurora, Apps Associates eliminated what would have been a very difficult process for us,” says Wald. “We would have had to go through a time-consuming and costly manual process to rewrite all our SQL code for the new solution.”

Thomas can now dynamically scale its applications as needed. “Using AWS, we can scale up instance sizes to add compute power for overnight batch processing,” says Wald. “That means we pay only for those larger resources, which doesn’t cost nearly as much as doubling the number of servers would be. Our ability to dynamically scale resources in the cloud gives us much more flexibility.”

More recently, Thomas has started to use Amazon Redshift to analyze web access data. “We’re doing ad hoc analysis in Amazon Redshift, and it’s working well enough that we’re going to expand our usage,” says Wald. The company also plans to continue moving data from Oracle to AWS. “Moving additional Oracle applications and databases is definitely on our roadmap,” Wald says. “Going through the process with Apps Associates showed us what we can do. We’re just getting started on our movement to the cloud.”

About Thomas Publishing

Founded in 1898, Thomas Publishing Company connects manufacturing buyers and suppliers worldwide. For buyers, Thomas offers timely and comprehensive content and data about industrial products and suppliers.

AWS Services Used

Amazon EC2

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.

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AWS Database Migration Service

AWS Database Migration Service helps you migrate databases to AWS quickly and securely. The source database remains fully operational during the migration, minimizing downtime to applications that rely on the database.

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Elastic Load Balancing

Elastic Load Balancing automatically distributes incoming application traffic across multiple targets, such as Amazon EC2 instances, containers, IP addresses, and Lambda functions.

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Amazon RDS

Amazon Relational Database Service (Amazon RDS) makes it easy to set up, operate, and scale a relational database in the cloud.

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Amazon Aurora

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.

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