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Unilog's shift to the public cloud involves considerably more than obtaining a new place to park its IT infrastructure.
The e-commerce company, based in Bangalore, India, with North American headquarters in Wayne, Pa., traditionally offered its core B2B software platform through a private cloud hosted in a colocation facility. Unilog, however, wanted to speed up customer deployments, improve its ability to scale and lower its operating costs. The company decided the anticipated benefits of public cloud could deliver on those requirements.
Swamy Mahesh, CTO and vice president of U.S. operations at Unilog, said Unilog selected Google's public cloud from a short list of providers that included Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure and Rackspace. The company also hired Agosto Inc., a Google cloud partner based in Minneapolis, Minn., to provide support and consulting services.
Unilog worked with Agosto to establish a strategic roadmap for public cloud adoption, which kicked off with a lift-and-shift migration from Unilog's private hosted setting to Google. The task involved moving Unilog's virtual machines to the new environment and optimizing them for Google Cloud.
The initial migration soon led to other opportunities for improvement.
"It became apparent that strategic challenges were on the end of that" lift-and-shift phase, said Rick Erickson, executive vice president at Agosto. He said his company conducted a cloud modernization analysis to uncover ways Unilog could operate more efficiently.
Benefits of public cloud
Among the business benefits of Unilog's public cloud migration is the ability to speed up the task of bringing new customers on board its e-commerce platform. In its private cloud environment, the process of getting a newly acquired client onto the system could take several days.
Swamy MaheshCTO and vice president of U.S. operations, Unilog
"We had to constantly add hardware to the racks and set it up," Mahesh said, noting the manual labor involved. "It was not a scalable model."
"Unilog was going through significant growth with their customer base and had a backlog of customers and one of the [factors] causing the backlog was the time it took to procure infrastructure and launch new customers," Erickson said.
But with the cloud and an improved customer onboarding process, Unilog can now bring a new customer onto its system in about a day, according to Unilog.
"Customer onboarding is much faster," Mahesh said.
The cloud move also helps with disaster recovery. Unilog had previously needed to consider multiple colocation spaces for redundancy purposes, a pursuit that Mahesh said amounts to "reinventing what a good cloud has already done."
The benefits of public cloud also surfaced on the application software side. In Unilog's case, the company used the occasion of the cloud refit to take a look at its application stack. The company's e-commerce platform was based on providing each client a single-customer instance of its software under a perpetual license. Unilog, however, wanted to transition to a software-as-a-service subscription model and multi-tenancy.
The multi-tenant version of its Unilog's e-commerce software also contributes to improved efficiency and faster customer deployments, since it allows the company to maintain and update a single image of its application. But the approach also introduces challenges, which Unilog continues to work through.
Mahesh cited differences among clients with regard to data growth rates and the resulting traffic on each client's network pipes as one example. Another design and development challenge of multi-tenancy: accommodating different use cases across multiple customers. System availability and replicating data across regions are other considerations, Mahesh added.
Unilog is now looking to further optimize its processes as it supports a mixed customer base -- some use the multi-tenant version of its platform and others continue to use the legacy system.
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