How VicRoads managed its cloud migration, improving data compliance and streamlining its digital operations
In 2017, VicRoads embarked on an ambitious project to revolutionise its existing informational website to a transactional one, offering online versions of many regular interactions, such as vehicle registration and permit
While a big step up for the experience of Victorian motorists, from a technical perspective, this move required VicRoads to completely revisit its cloud architecture and delivery model. This would ensure new personal and financial data being gathered were stored in accordance to best practices and in compliance with government standards.
“Our old capability, which was a hosted virtual service, was not able to meet our new compliance needs,” says Babu Krishnamoorthy, Director of ICT Strategy at VicRoads, “we needed to ensure that customer data was protected and we were compliant”.
Through Amazon’s Elastic Container Service and the power of Docker, Telstra Purple - delivered an architecture which gave VicRoads the flexibility they needed to reduce release cycle windows and avoid unnecessary downtime.
- VicRoads needed to move from traditional hosting to AWS in just three months to stay compliant with data regulations.
- After their initial migration, VicRoads spent nine months refining their AWS environment, to dramatically streamline ongoing website updates.
- This reduced deploying new updates from a 20-person job with 12 hours website outage, to just three with almost no service interruptions.
Compliance and beyond
The decision was clear, a move to a modern hosting platform was critical to the ongoing success of delivering a world-class solution for the motorists of Victoria.
“The initial trigger was compliance, however beyond that, our hosting arrangement was constraining us,” says Babu. “Our ability to push product to market was slow, it would typically take between 15 and 20 people to deliver software to production. We would also typically run between 12 and 15 hours of full-website outage to deploy new code.”
18 months later, Babu says that the new platform allows just three people to deploy with no, or almost no website down time – and he aims to bring that down to just one ‘clicking a button’ with zero downtime for standard web enhancements in the near future.
"What we've ended up doing is we've shrunk our downtime, so that almost 70 per cent of our use cases can now be deployed into production with zero outage, and the remaining 30 per cent can be done within about 20 minutes of outage. This is down from 12 hours for every deployment.”
To ensure everything went smoothly, VicRoads engaged Telstra Purple to help manage the transformation.
“Telstra Purple has been an amazing partner for us,” says Babu, “from the beginning, we knew what we wanted to achieve, but we didn’t know how to get there, because the cloud market is changing on almost a daily basis.”
“Telstra Purple was able to take our needs and identify the most appropriate system, tools, products and processes for us to adopt. They made life much easier for us, by removing some of those confusions.” he said.
An intrepid journey
VicRoads had set the bar high with an ambitious timeline for relaunching their web presence. Babu’s team made the initial move from traditional hosting into the cloud with Amazon Web Services (AWS), in just three months, by focusing on replicating “like for like functionality,” rather than launching with all the “bells and whistles”.
“We were able to move from inception through to the new platform in 3 months, but to get to that kind of velocity we had to take shortcuts. We moved to a cloud-based platform but weren’t taking on board the capabilities of the cloud,” says Babu.
“Step two was more of a six-to-nine-month goal, where we then started to transform our presence in the cloud to better utilise the capability of AWS. That unlocked the really big change that we were able to achieve.”
This second phase allowed Babu’s team to adopt cutting-edge technology, including Docker and Amazon’s Elastic Container Service (ECS), which allowed VicRoads to scale their cloud presence more effectively and efficiently, letting technology to do the heavy lifting while relying on their integration partner to guide them through this unknown landscape.
Start small - grow big
Of course, working with cutting edge technology has its downsides.
“When you're working with new tech, you don't have too many reference clients and people that you can learn lessons from,” explains Babu.
“In hindsight, I would suggest running your upgrades as a proof of concept first then moving that proof of concept into your critical path pipeline. First: validate the nuances of your proof of concept. Your integration points. The technology itself and how it's going to talk. How you’re managing doing DevOps.”
Having successfully realised the benefits of migrating traditional services into the cloud, he advises others in large organisations not to wait around for the perfect migration plan.
“Don't hesitate and invest. Even if your investment is small, take that as your first step of a journey. Your investment in the cloud, your investment in agile operations, your investment in new hosting, these small steps will generate a little bit of momentum, and that momentum starts to build up a snowball that you're hopefully able to get a solution like we’ve achieved.”