By using AWS, Yellow New Zealand can focus on developing digital products instead of maintaining an on-premises environment, enabling the company to deliver continuous product improvements while easily scaling to handle millions of searches across our online and mobile applications. 
Rob Hayden Cloud Infrastructure Manager

The Yellow New Zealand story began in the 1960s when the first Yellow Pages book was launched. While staying loyal to its print heritage, Yellow New Zealand is now a 400-person team of digital media and marketing experts. Passionate about supporting small- and medium-sized businesses, Yellow New Zealand creates cross-network solutions designed to help companies connect and grow. From offering free online company profiles to managing Google AdWords campaigns and building websites, Yellow New Zealand delivers a full spectrum of digital services. This aligns with the company’s vision to make New Zealand the most connected country in the world.

In 2015, Yellow New Zealand increased its focus on digital innovation, faster service delivery, easy scaling, and a consistent high quality of delivery. Only through a cloud solution could the company automate its IT, introduce self-service features, and take advantage of pay-as-you-go pricing models. Yellow New Zealand wanted to leverage public cloud offerings from organizations such as Amazon Web Services (AWS) to deliver the benefits and capabilities of cloud technologies with minimal technical, financial, and commercial risk.  

Yellow New Zealand chose AWS because the company saw the cloud-services provider as a key enabler for transforming how it delivers digital products to market. Yellow New Zealand adopted a continuous-delivery model, providing the ability to release digital products to environments powered by AWS within minutes compared to hours, days, or weeks in its previous environment.

Before selecting AWS, Yellow New Zealand evaluated various cloud-service providers on the market. “It was clear AWS was the right fit for Yellow New Zealand because of its industry experience, flexibility of service, enhanced security, and platform maturity,” says Rob Hayden, cloud infrastructure manager at Yellow New Zealand.

Yellow New Zealand accelerated the implementation of its AWS solution with the support of an AWS solutions architect, the engagement of a cloud solution specialist, and local technology partners who assisted the company’s project team during implementation. The platform was built over a nine-month period, which included delivering a new continuous-delivery pipeline, followed by a series of application migrations and the establishment of a cloud-services team that now provides both operational support and project requirements for the business.

Yellow New Zealand leverages AWS CloudFormation to build its platform code and drive application deployment. The business also uses custom resources powered by AWS Lambda to supplement the capabilities of AWS CloudFormation. Yellow New Zealand uses Amazon EC2 Container Service (Amazon ECS) to automate new code releases while ensuring full transparency and version control. The flexibility of Amazon ECS has allowed Yellow New Zealand to adopt a traditional infrastructure as a service (IaaS) model. The business can now use native AWS capabilities—such as security groups and AWS Identity and Access Management (IAM) roles—to create platforms that are easily understood by traditional infrastructure operations staff. Information that Yellow New Zealand customers frequently access is retrieved and stored by an Amazon ElastiCache instance running Redis—an open-source cache broker.

As part of Yellow New Zealand’s journey to the cloud, the company’s project team rearchitected its applications, building independent stacks that are deployed through an automated continuous-delivery pipeline using advanced technologies such as Bitbucket, Docker, Bamboo, and Ansible Tower.

The Yellow New Zealand platform is housed in the AWS Asia Pacific (Sydney) Region, with dynamic disaster recovery in development. Its data center—located in Auckland, New Zealand—is connected to the AWS Asia Pacific region using AWS Direct Connect via MegaPort. Yellow New Zealand has established a cloud-services practice with a DevOps team at the core to provide both project and operational support as the business transitions from on premises to the AWS Cloud.

 

The building-block approach AWS provides has allowed Yellow New Zealand to create a sophisticated and robust application-delivery platform. This complements Yellow New Zealand’s goal of frequent software releases to accelerate new product features while minimizing operational overhead.

Yellow New Zealand has adopted a continuous-delivery model, giving it the ability to release digital products to environments within minutes compared to weeks in its previous environment. The programmable capabilities of AWS allow for complete environments to be created, updated, and deleted on demand. The capabilities also allow Yellow New Zealand to reduce infrastructure costs and increase performance while delivering instant capacity when the business needs it. Combining code optimizations with Amazon Elasticsearch Service has made response times twice as fast for business searches carried out on its core website, Yellow Online. The same solution is about to be implemented for another Yellow New Zealand online product—whitepages.co.nz—with tests showing a fourfold increase in response times for people searches.

To date, Yellow New Zealand has migrated six production applications to AWS, including Yellow and White Online, and a mobile app—Yellow/home—which provides New Zealand homeowners with a convenient way to maintain their properties and arrange maintenance work.

 "In migrating Yellow and White Online—our core applications—to AWS, we gained a world-class application-delivery capability built on the latest technologies and best practices,” says Hayden. “We leveraged the scalability and resiliency of the AWS platform to establish a cost-effective solution to meet our rapidly changing requirements. By using AWS, Yellow New Zealand can focus on developing digital products instead of maintaining an on-premises environment, enabling the company to deliver continuous product improvements while easily scaling to handle millions of searches across our online and mobile applications.”