Case Study:

Marketing and Talent Management Firm Finds New Talent with Azure Services

SHI Solution Architects decouple existing architecture and migrate data to Azure.

Highlights:

Customer Profile

Global sports, entertainment and lifestyle-marketing agency

Challenge

Customer needed to modernize and decouple their existing architecture while migrating it to the cloud.

Solution

Cloud
Data Center

SHI Architects decoupled the monolithic application into IaaS and PaaS services, and upgraded their database solution to utilize a new feature set.

Partners

Azure

Benefits/Results

  • Increased durability and availability for the web front-end through Azure App Services
  • Reduced administration through the use of managed disks and PaaS services
  • Decoupled architecture by separating stack
  • Increased speed to production

Challenge:

The customer's current architecture was monolithic and tightly coupled - a single component failure meant the failure of the whole stack.

The customer sought out a cloud solution with the hopes of eliminating any single points of failure, upgrading aging infrastructure, achieving painless administration of their environment, and capitalizing on the agility of operations offered by Azure.

Solution:

The customer had an existing Cloud Solution Provider (CSP) agreement with SHI. Through a diverse portfolio of globally available services, Azure provides a decoupled, highly-available, and fault tolerant environment, conducive to customer growth and success of business continuity.

During analysis of their existing infrastructure and resources, SHI discovered that to effectively modernize the customer's application, they would need to use a combination of PaaS and IaaS services. Using the customer's CSP account, new Azure Active Directory (AD) guests were created for SHI Solutions Architects and customer employees who were deemed necessary to access both the Azure and the on-premises environment.

SHI deployed ARM templates to provision a new VNet and VPN for the purpose of the engagement, deployed instances into the appropriate subnets, and created network security groups according to the proposed architecture and Azure best practices.

The Database Migration Tool was deployed to initiate the engagement and determine the level of effort needed to migrate from MSSQL 2012 to MSSQL 2017. SHI proposed MSSQL 2017 because of their use of RStudio as MSSQL allows RStudio scripts to be ran inline through functions or stored procedures for light data transformation. Utilizing DBATools, SHI migrated the customer's databases to their SQL IaaS instance. Through the robust, native features of Azure, SHI automated backups to Blob Storage and maintenance tasks. This enabled the customer to focus on value-add activities instead of operational and administrative tasks, and garnered the security of having highly available and redundant backups. In the end, SHI not only separated the data tier from the customer's application, but also modernized their MSSQL implementation.

In addition to IaaS services, SHI Solutions Architects utilized PaaS services to decouple the customer's architecture, and introduce fault tolerance and high availability. SHI suggested Azure App Services to decouple the web tier of the customer's application, and educated the customer on how to push their PHP through Git to the App Services endpoint. Being container based, this allowed for greater fault tolerance, graceful decommissioning of compute and functional isolation. Due to the built-in Azure AD integration, Azure App Services also allowed the customer to integrate their SSO solution, Okta, as an authentication provider, providing secure access to their application to agents in the field.

The customer had an implementation of RStudio that lived within the original monolith. Each time they performed analysis and modeling, they needed to greatly inflate their pool of resources allocated to the machine - incurring downtime as the transition was not seamless. SHI replaced this component with a standalone, memory optimized Linux instance. As IaaS compute, this robust instance, consisting of 16 vCPUs and 128GB of RAM, allowed the customer to utilize RStudio seamlessly, and only when needed. The instance remains stopped (deallocated) when not in use - allowing the customer to perform complex analysis in shorter periods of time, with no risk of affecting production performance.

Benefits:

Moving their application to Azure allowed the customer to take advantage of the wide array of global Azure services available. Through utilizing managed disks and Azure App Services, SHI removed the administrative tasks surrounding backups and maintenance, allowing the customer to reclaim valuable time, better spent working on customer-facing tasks.

Due to the decoupling of their architecture, a failure of any single component will not render the customer's application useless but will only offer a graceful degradation of services. The use of Azure App Services also allows the customer to push their application straight to Azure App Services through their source control - enabling unparalleled speed to production. The implemented solution allows the customer to deploy faster, withstand component failure, and easily reach all of their field agents.