Ticketmaster is in the process of shifting much of its IT infrastructure in the UK from on-premise to the cloud in a bid to better handle spikes in demand when tickets for popular events go on sale, according to Ticketmaster engineering director Simon Tarry.
However, Ticketmaster has legacy systems that have kept the company ticking over for more than two decades, and the shift to the cloud has been cautious.
Tarry was speaking at this morning's opening panel session of the V3 Cloud & Infrastructure Summit Live, broadcast online today and on Thursday, alongside Richard Godfrey, who masterminded Peterborough City Council's early shift to cloud computing, and Paul Davies, technical director at IT infrastructure company CoreIX.
"Ticketmaster has a vast array of IT infrastructure that we have built up over the last two decades. Fans expect to be able to buy tickets almost instantly, as soon as tickets for huge events go on sale, like the Rugby World Cup," said Tarry. Ticketmaster had to handle some eleven million rugby fans suddenly descending on its website looking for tickets - and did so without a blip.
The company's business sees huge spikes in demand, and bad publicity if they're not met, and cloud computing helps to meet a core business need.
However, Tarry warned that it's not cost effective or efficient simply to lift-and-shift applications straight from on-premise to a virtual server (or servers) running in the cloud, and requires a lot more engineering.
"The cloud is ideal for the capability we need to be able to instantly scale. The problem is that we've got a lot of legacy applications, and it's about transforming the applications and the infrastructure to be able to make the most benefit of the cloud. We are currently on a journey to find the best mix for us," he said.
"At the moment, we run a hybrid of private cloud, public cloud and our own on-premise solutions. So we are transforming the type of applications that we can bring to fans to ensure that they get the best experience."
CoreIX's Davies explained that the cloud raises as many questions as it does answers for many organisations.
"We see customers every day and some of the frustrations they endure, as well as many of the benefits. They come to us and ask whether cloud is suitable for their particular environment and, often, we see multiple different angles," he said.
Software-as-a-service can provide some quick wins, and Microsoft Office 365, Google Apps and Salesforce provide some easily shifted cloud alternatives, but it might not be so clear cut for the applications that make one organisation different from another.
Peterborough City Council is working through 50 years of legacy computing, not to cut budgets but to enable the rest of the council to deliver services more efficiently.
"A few years ago, we sat down and looked at how we worked and operated. Obviously, we knew the budget pressures were coming," said Godfrey, who is now a project director at services firm Arcus Global.
"We realised that the way we did things and delivered services couldn't carry on with the traditional IT legacy applications that we worked with, so we embraced public cloud wholeheartedly.
"The council now works with a number of providers, including Google, Salesforce.com, Amazon Web Services, Box and Okta, and really it's about taking away that ‘IT says no' approach so that any transformational change or service delivery can happen, irrespective of the IT."
Given the organisation's legacy of 50 years of IT, from ICL mainframes to the modern era, much of the project has been about doing things differently, rather than shifting systems and applications lock, stock and barrel into the public cloud. Hence the deployment of, for example, Salesforce across the council.
However, Godfrey questioned going to the trouble of implementing private clouds, effectively going from one on-premise architecture to another, just for the sake of it.
"I struggle with the concept of why you would do it. Why would you invest in your private infrastructure to do something that another company could probably deliver better and more efficiently?" he said.
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