Founded in 2003, Denver-based Switchfly connects every aspect of travel into one seamless experience — including flights, hotels, car rental, traveler support, and customer loyalty and employee rewards programs. The 20-year-old company, a leader in the travel rewards industry, processes roughly $3 billion in bookings annually.
“Rackspace Technology was able to help us achieve our objective of eliminating our data centers and modernizing our tech stack selectively to ensure we hit our aggressive timeline.”
The obstacles they faced
Because Switchfly’s primary focuses are constant uptime and rapid uptime, a high degree of responsiveness is critical to their customer’s success. When a traveler calls the 800 number because their flight has been canceled, he or she must talk to an agent promptly. Likewise, the software used to manage that booking experience must perform flawlessly and quickly every time.
The company’s major need is for constant uptime and elasticity. It needs to be ready for future expansion and prepared to add new services and features without making changes to a monolithic application.
Facing an on-premises infrastructure of data centers and hardware that would need a physical refresh, Switchfly had to decide whether it wanted to re-commit to on-premises hardware management or move to a cloud environment on Amazon Web Services (AWS). If it migrated, it would do so through the company’s AWS Migration Acceleration Program (MAP), a comprehensive cloud migration program with an outcome-driven methodology.
Migration became the priority
“The decision was made to move to AWS, and we made the cloud-first approach decision for a number of reasons,” said Ed Estabrook, Chief Technology Officer at Switchfly “A lot had to do with recruitment and speed-to-value — essentially, our ability to turn on new features and services.”
However, before it could make the cut over, the company had to hit aggressive deadlines in exiting the data center. It also needed to fully migrate before a substantial portion of its hardware reached end of life.
Switchfly encountered Onica by Rackspace Technology through the recommendation of one of its technology directors, who had previously worked with them.
Through this prior relationship, Rackspace Technology was invited to pitch against two other service providers. According to Estabrook, Switchfly chose Rackspace because “they listened to what we had to say and came back with the most compelling offering, tailored to our specific needs.”
“I'm pleased with Rackspace Technology because I found that they were adaptive. They’re able to bring talented engineers and architects to help solve some complex issues. Now we can focus on things that have a direct impact on our bottom line.”
How we helped
The existing Switchfly architecture was a monolithic application that had grown over time to include many customized features and individualized services for different clients. The company needed to move into a more modern and service-based cloud architecture.
Because uptime is essential and the migration complexity of moving 20 clients, 70 services, 700 servers and 16 terabytes of data, to make the cut-over Switchfly needed to approach one client at a time, starting with the simplest.
After the first client migration from the legacy to the new infrastructure went smoothly, the others followed. Switchfly kept its overall incumbent application running with constant database updates while moving clients one at a time to the Amazon Relational Database Service (Amazon RDS), a collection of managed services that makes it simple to set up, operate, and scale databases in the cloud.
Many clients had custom connectors and supporting services that were not standardized, which the Rackspace team helped Switchfly work through individually.
“There were inevitable trade-offs that had to be made to hit objectives, but the Rackspace Technology team was flexible with us in managing change orders and additional SOWs to cover the new discoveries,” said Ed Estabrook. “Ultimately, the most important aspect is we hit our hard deadline — and got out of the data centers by the end of the year.”
What we achieved together
Estabrook said that Switchfly adopted the “significantly faster and more resilient” Amazon RDS managed database solution, reducing the number of database administrators it needs to have on hand.
The migration also freed application performance for activities that had previously “been bound by our own infrastructure.” For example, pulling up an agent booking, which happens every time someone calls, “went from 20 seconds down to five seconds. Bringing down that response time was incredibly powerful,” noted Estabrook.
“Rackspace Technology helped us achieve our objective of eliminating our data centers and modernizing our tech stack selectively to ensure that we hit our aggressive timeline,” he added.
Switchfly also used Rackspace Optimizer+ to reduce AWS costs. The company had initially over-provisioned. Once it was up and running, Onica helped it determine and arrive at the right amount of computing power, saving money over the initial configuration.
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