​Airservices completes 'massive' cloud migration

The migration took around 21,000 hours of engineering and project 'man-effort', but Airservices CIO Chris Seller told ZDNet it was worth it.
Written by Asha Barbaschow, Contributor

Australia's air navigation service provider Airservices has just finished migrating the systems that run its business from on-premise into the cloud, moving around 800 servers, approximately one petabyte of data, and 135 business applications.

Pressed to vacate the building that hosted its on-premise equipment by June 2018, as well as faced with ageing equipment, the Commonwealth entity went to market in August last year for the infrastructure-as-a-service solution that covered all of its core compute components, storage, and end-user devices.

Airservices ended up signing the resulting AU$84 million, five-year contract with ASG, which uses Vault's protected-level ASD certified infrastructure, hosted within Canberra Data Centres (CDC).

CIO Chris Seller told ZDNet the migration project, which is part of a larger technology transformation Airservices is undertaking, involved relocating the systems that run the business at Airservices from its head office in Canberra.

During the two-year planning phase, Seller said Airservices realised it didn't need as much physical real estate in Canberra, as it was growing its footprint in its major centres that run the operational systems, such as air traffic control, in Brisbane, Melbourne, Sydney, and Perth.

While the plan was to shift the on-premise services to the cloud, Seller didn't expect to be able to send everything.

"When we started on this journey, we actually didn't expect that all of our legacy business systems would end up in Vault," he said. "We were, like most organisations, very cautious about what could actually end up in a cloud environment and what would probably have to stay on dedicated hardware."

As the planning and execution of the migration kicked off, Seller said Airservices quickly realised that Vault's environment allowed for the migration of everything, including its large SAP system, as well as all of Airservices' legacy applications.

"The only things that are still on dedicated hardware are our internet-facing services, gateways ... there's a few services like that and there's a few other services that are already managed by third-parties and there's dedicated hardware that they support and run for us," he explained.

However, Seller said he is talking to those suppliers about having their services hosted in Vault's cloud, and when it comes time to refresh Airservices own kit, the government entity will consider the cloud first.

See also: Commonwealth pushes public cloud by default

"There was something like 21,000 hours of engineering and project man-effort involved in the migration," he said. "But the alternative was that I would of had to re-build the environment in another datacentre and replicate the software-defined infrastructure capability and security capability that Vault has already built into their system ... I just didn't see myself having the capability to be able to replicate that and the economics of the deal we did with ASG and Vault were pretty compelling."

It isn't a huge cost saving, around AU$1 million or-so per year compared to doing it in-house, Seller said, but to him the real advantage comes from the flexibility and agility Airservices now has as a result.

"We now get environment provisioning in hours instead of weeks ... this has accelerated us to a whole new game," he said.

"I don't want to make it sound like it was easy, it was a very difficult process to do the migration and we had lots of re-work and many long weekends -- I think we ended up running about three weeks late on the migration in the end.

"We didn't start this to be the poster-child for migrations to the cloud, we started this to solve our infrastructure problem that we had with the exit out of the building and the rapidly ageing environment that we had."

"The anecdotal feedback we're getting is that things are a bit snappier and operating faster ... than in the past," Seller said of the feedback from Airservices staff.


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