Quick Take

VAS Group, a UK leader in residential and commercial property valuations wished to move their entire technology infrastructure to AWS. OSO DevOps was brought on board to prepare and implement the change by migrating a critical set of applications to EKS - building confidence, skills, and repeatable processes along the way.

What We Did

  • Cloud readiness assessment
  • AWS migration
  • Cost optimisation
  • Operating model design
  • Agile coaching
  • Augmented security and compliance
  • Containerised applications & infrastructure

The Company

The VAS Group delivers responsive, data-informed property valuations to customers, using web technology to serve a rich platform integrated with a number of SaaS products built using the Ruby on Rails framework. Their portfolio includes over 450 mortgage brokers, 130 lenders and 650 valuation firms performing 500 valuations per month across the UK.

The Challenge

VAS Group recognised an opportunity to move their technology platform beyond its current limitations by enhancing the user experience, improving current functionality and delivering added value faster. They had already identified that in order to do this, and achieve their further growth plans, the existing IT systems needed significant improvements - the problem was that the VAS Group lacked the technical expertise and understanding of how to implement these upgrades.

OSO DevOps was engaged to migrate all services from their on-premise Bytemark servers to a production-ready platform running on AWS. The challenge was to enable more agility, elasticity, resilience and efficiency, as well as to optimise operating costs by moving away from a physical data centre.

The Solution

From the beginning, the OSO DevOps team and VAS agreed on a highly collaborative approach that would up-skill VAS’s employees and prepare the company for new ways of working on AWS.

The starting point was a one week cloud readiness assessment to understand the limitations of the platform and identify all of the potential risks. By interviewing developers, product owners, stakeholders, and holding many conversations with the core team of users, a small OSO DevOps team helped VAS clearly articulate the goals and objectives of the migration. A solid understanding was also gained in how each group of platform users would be impacted, how they would benefit, and what they would need to make the transition successfully.

What was really exciting for VAS was the opportunity to pay incrementally for leading-edge technologies, instead of making large lump investments to build new platform features. For example, VAS will be able to train machine learning models in the SageMaker and deploy them to localised areas throughout the UK as they are needed to perform more actuate property valuations.

With this vision in mind, VAS’s cloud readiness across each component of the change framework was assessed and laid out a high-level roadmap, ready to move everything to AWS.

What did OSO DevOps deliver?

  • 2 Year Technology roadmap – This was formed from collaborative workshops on topics like security, compliance, cloud native development and scalability of the new platform, ensuring it was completely aligned to the business vision.
  • Cloud-Native Application Refactoring – Re-architected platform to leverage Kubernetes in order to increase development velocity, application availability and agility using EKS. This allowed VAS to launch new features in a faster and more consistent way.
  • Migration of Entire Platform – The OSO DevOps team migrated VAS’s core customer offering, their S3 archives as well as their web application to Docker and subsequently to EKS.
  • A Delivery Team of Experts – Provided a cross-functional team containing application developers, devops engineers and testers. OSO DevOps Agile coach drove the project, teaching Agile best practices and ensuring on-time delivery.
  • Deployment Best Practices – Leveraged the newly released GitHub Actions to construct new serverless CI/CD pipelines, compliant with modern industry standards.
  • Automation – A set of reusable foundational infrastructure components.
  • Support – Full 24 / 7 support application package.

Which services did OSO DevOps use?

  • GitHub – Versioned code repository with GitHub actions to trigger Docker builds.
  • EKS – Deployed an AWS managed Kubernetes cluster to quickly scale and innovate.
  • ECR – A highly secure private docker repository that is fully managed by AWS.
  • Amazon S3 – Store confidential reporting and property valuation data including PDF, images, stylesheets, database backups, and zip archives containing valuation instructions.
  • Terraform – Provisioned core infrastructure including: VPC, Route53, CloudWatch, Cloudtrail.
  • Amazon IAM – Access control of users across accounts and environments; Use of IAM Roles to limit the use of access keys in implementations
  • Amazon RDS – Aurora Postgres with multi region readers for platform data persistence.

The Business Outcome

Increased business efficiency
VAS Group has achieved significant ROI by avoiding slow, manual and complicated software delivery. In addition, their development teams can focus on new business initiatives, rather than spending hours creating environments.

VAS Group now has the infrastructure to accommodate their ambitious growth plans
The core service is now much more available, resilient and high-performing and the core service offering is many times more responsive and efficient. Importantly, the technology infrastructure has the scalability and resilience to handle VAS’s ambitious future growth plans.

Deployment time has been reduced from days to minutes to enable innovation
The developers are no longer limited by their infrastructure and have reduced deployment time from days to just minutes in most cases. Using GitOps, VAS now has the capacity to deliver on its product roadmap for 2020 and beyond.

Cloud-native tooling offering better service and rapid product innovation
VAS can now start tapping into the cloud-native tooling that AWS offers. These include sophisticated monitoring and big data tools that they can use to gain insights from their data, application users and to improve their product.

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