To say there was a lot of interest in the first Amazon Web Services (AWS) events here in Australia would be an understatement. How many vendors could put on an event without a glamorous new product launch, strategy update or market specific announcement and pull in close to 1,000 attendees in both Sydney and Melbourne? I guess that’s the difference between a market maker and a market follower, there’s no disputing AWS are the most powerful player in cloud computing and when they talk everyone wants to listen. I presented a customer case study at the AWS Melbourne event and provided an overview of our cloud strategy and the key role AWS plays in delivering this strategy. I’ve attached my slides to this post, here’s a summary to provide some context.
As a growth business we are scaling rapidly and IT has undergone significant growth with a 50% increase in our development headcount over the past 12 months. To be productive these developers need to test their code in an environment that looks, feels and behaves like realestate.com.au and we need a highly efficient deployment pipeline to move code from developers brains to our sites as fast as possible. As an ops manager I want my resources (dollars and people) focused on optimising our production environments and not on dev/test.
To address this we migrated dev/test environments from on-premise to the AWS cloud and developed a deployment pipeline that enables push button application deployment. Our deployment toolset leverages the fog ruby project which enables you to control a number of cloud services through a unified API and hooks into our Chef and Gitorious artefact repositories. Now any developer can push a button and have an end to end development environment to test their code against and, from a management perspective, I’m confident our deployment toolchain is cloud agnostic – if we decided to switch to Rackspace tomorrow we wouldn’t need to redevelop the tools and processes.
We recently invested in VMware’s Vsphere and Vcloud products to build a ‘private cloud’ across our global DC’s. We want to be able to deploy code to AWS or to our VMware environments using the same deployment processes. Unfortunately the Fog library didn’t support Vcloud so we decided to add it ourselves, check out our techblog for details on how to use this.
With the recent establishment of an Australian sales presence and the AWS cloud tour events there has been a lot of speculation that an Australian availability zone is imminent. The timing of an article published in the Australian the day of the Melbourne cloud tour event added even more fuel to the fire. Whether there’s any truth to the Australian article or not the general consensus within the industry is that it’s a matter of when rather than if AWS will have a physical presence in Australia. From my perspective this will have a huge impact on the hosting industry within Australia, AWS would become the first heavyweight global cloud provider to land on Aussie shores taking away many of the risk / data jurisdiction concerns that prevent large corporates and government from embracing cloud services today. It would also put significant cost pressure on some of the more established Australian hosting providers and drive a more rapid rate of innovation across the industry. However the biggest opportunity I see is to provide the catalyst for a new era of online entrepreneurship within Australia, there are so many Aussie success stories – think Atlassian & Freelancer.com – that underline the tech savvy entrepreneurial culture within this country however getting these ideas off the ground is a significant challenge with the high cost, inflexible hosting market. Local players like Ninefold, Interactive and Telstra are all making moves in this space but the arrival of AWS would turn the industry on its head.
Judging by the 2,000 people who attended the AWS cloud tour events in Australia, I’m not the only one that sees this as something big.