Looking to migrate to a standardised hosting platform for its local clients, web development specialist and content management platform provider Silverstripe engaged Lancom Technology for the creation of an automated framework accelerating the migration from legacy hosts into the selected Amazon Web Services environment. The successful delivery of the migration solution means Silverstripe is ready to take the websites of significant clients including government departments into a more modern, more capable future powered by one of the world’s leading Platform as a Service providers. In so doing, Silverstripe is looking forward to standardising its hosting, easing skills requirements while accelerating innovation through a common platform allowing innovations and developments for any one customer to extend to all others.
Headquartered in Wellington and founded in 2000, Silverstripe offers a range of services including website strategy, UX and visual design, web application development and cloud hosting. The company has also developed and offers the free open-source content management systems Silverstripe CMS used by hundreds of thousands of customers around the world.
As a web solutions provider with a long history – and one addressing the substantial needs of clients with complex online requirements – Silverstripe found itself with clients on multiple legacy platforms, with websites and associated infrastructures at varying degrees of maturity and modernity. As a strategic priority, the company sought standardisation on a single platform and identified AWS as the preferred target. “We have many clients looking for onshore cloud with infrastructure and platform as a service,” says Silverstripe CEO Tobias Oschwald. “With multiple platforms, we require multiple skills sets; even across two providers, there is added complexity in maintenance, and it rapidly results in considerable technical debt in terms of keeping up with the latest versions. And it stifles innovation; if we have a single platform offering a full set of features, we can innovate across our entire customer base, rather than for individual clients.”
AWS, he notes, was selected as the platform of choice owing to market leadership and the availability of skills on the platform.
Furthermore, with AWS approved for use within government departments, the way was cleared for the platform as a component of Silverstripe’s public sector customers. “We narrowed it down to two providers and ultimately went with AWS. We see it as one of the most innovative in the market, and with existing capabilities on the platform within our people, consolidating on something we know and have skills on is the better choice.”
However, Silverstripe faced a potentially monumental amount of complexity in migrating its customers, given that each ‘lift and shift’ might be a substantial project.
With considerable complexity involved in designing and delivering an appropriate framework which would guide every future migration from legacy private cloud hosts into the AWS environment, Silverstripe asked AWS itself for a recommendation of a suitable local technology partner. Lancom Technology was nominated and soon proved an appropriate fit for Silverstripe from a technical and cultural perspective.
Silverstripe Technical Director Jackson Darlow says the work predominantly involved solutions and cloud architecture underpinning the framework design, then creating the sandboxed result ready for platform architecture and engineering. “Lancom brought a lot of capability from high level management of technically complex work to iterative programme management in an agile format where we were the product owners,” he explains.
In a project executed over 6 months, Lancom’s AWS team combined systems engineering with its technical capabilities in working with AWS services and microservices, systems administration and architectural skills covering server management, computational management, database management, network engineering, and Continuous Integration/Continuous Development skills. Darlow adds that Lancom’s expertise was clear in working closely with AWS-driven cloud pipelines providing workflow automation and integration automation. “A large component at the core is Infrastructure as Code. For our requirements, this is a fundamental skillset delivering cloud provisioning and infrastructure management assets into a single codebase library.”
Oschwald describes the creation of the migration framework as ‘technically sophisticated’. “Lancom worked iteratively through multiple workloads, implementing architectural structures and services supporting the eventual fully functional migration of Silverstripe assets to AWS.”
He adds that with the initial scope anticipating delivery over 8 to 9 months, completion was ahead of expectations. “With such a complex challenge, a flexible approach was invaluable. Assumptions at beginning might not work in practice, so an open relationship helped steer in the right direction and ultimately to a successful conclusion.”
Thanks to the engagement with Lancom Technology, Silverstripe has completed the first essential steps in the longer-term strategic initiative of platform standardisation. “In effect, the preparatory work is done and now we are campaigning with clients to move towards AWS, and enjoy the advantages available on that platform,” says Oschwald. “Attempting this journey on our own would have required a massive internal effort; Lancom has created automation and a well-architected framework which brings forward our plans and will accelerate our move into the AWS cloud.”
Darlow says both cost and risk would have exceeded Silverstripe’s appetite for tackling the migration without expert assistance. “We needed a highly capable service partner working closely with us for an effective outcome. The sheer complexity and scope of the challenge means we probably couldn’t create these automations and a well-architected framework without Lancom. We have a degree of confidence and satisfaction in the work done to date, with the scope delivered which we can now use as a foundation towards complete maturity for our migration services which will start moving customers to a modernised platform.”
While Darlow says there is ‘always an active workload’ when it comes to migration off legacy platforms, he says the framework delivered with Lancom Technology’s support will mean the business can progress its goal of providing customers a cloud centric environment.
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