How Versent took Mirvac to the cloud
- 12 April, 2018 16:37
Versent founders (L-R) Eddie Smith, James Coxon and Thor Essman
When Australian real estate giant, Mirvac, realised it needed to modernise its technology landscape, it turned to local Amazon Web Services (AWS) partner, Versent, to help it move its workloads to the cloud.
Publicly-listed on the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX) with a market cap of $8 billion, Mirvac owns and manages assets across the office, retail and industrial sectors, with over $18 billion of assets currently under management.
The company habitually runs over 100 workloads, including 180 Windows servers, which had been hosted in its headquarters in Sydney. The on-premises workloads ranged from business critical to services, requiring high compute and graphic intensive processes.
The majority of the company’s workloads are Microsoft SQL Servers and other Windows specific applications.
Because Mirvac’s workloads are largely Microsoft-critical business applications and commercial off-the-shelf products, the company sought a highly available cloud platform to host its systems, with AWS ultimately chosen as the best candidate for the company’s needs.
Indeed, Mirvac chose to migrate all of its critical workloads to AWS, identifying 112 workloads, including the 180 Windows servers hosting those workloads.
This is where Versent, which also counts Adobe, CA Technologies and Red Hat among its vendor partners, came into the picture.
In partnership with Versent, Mirvac was able to concoct an entire project that was planned, implemented and migrated within seven months, without any business outage -- and with a Versent team of just four people -- more than meeting the company’s need to have the project completed quickly.
Much of this swift lift-and-shift timeline was made possible by Versent’s habit of re-using the intellectual property (IP), engineering and automated processes it has developed for multiple projects.
“We’re known as the automation company, so if I do something once, why can’t I use it again?” Versent CEO and co-founder, Thor Essman, told ARN. “So, we’ve built a lot of knowledge about how to move things….you can’t just press a button and [have] everything jump into Amazon and be perfect, but there’s a lot of ways to make it a lot faster to do.”
Specifically, Versent taps into its pre-existing DevOps and automation techniques to build an automated migration factory utilising migration-specific tools, such as AWS Discovery Service and CloudEndure’s migration tool, Live Migration, to deliver migrations of the workloads in waves into AWS.
This approach allows for rapid and consistent migration of Microsoft Windows-based servers and Microsoft SQL Server databases.
The Live Migration tool facilitated data replication from all of Mirvac’s 180 servers and was instrumental in ensuring the least amount of downtime for the company’s workloads.
Versent then built a migration factory around its automation processes to orchestrate the migration of all on-premises servers into AWS.
Once the workloads were in AWS, Versent worked closely with Mirvac’s operations team to put in place workload schedules to optimise the usage and cost of the shifted workloads.
The project, which wrapped up just a couple of months ago, represents the fifth such migration project for Versent, a benchmark that Essman claims sees the company become the first AWS partner in the local region to achieve the vendor’s migration competency – not too bad for a partner not traditionally known for its migration capabilities.
While Versent’s automation IP and the migration factory it underpins played a large part in the project with Mirvac reaching completion just over half a year after it kicked off, the client itself played a big part as well, with Mirvac turning out to be surprisingly agile and responsive for its size.
“Something relatively unique to Mirvac is that for the size of the organisation it could make changes quite quickly,” Essman said.
“Whereas many other organisations have to have multiple stages of change approval boards, [Mirvac] was able to actually have enough empowerment of their own staff and good discipline and process that we didn’t have to wait weeks to make what ultimately were relatively minor changes.
“We find, particularly in our larger enterprise customers, what we did with Mirvac that would take us two days, could take two weeks, because there are just more people to be involved and thus more approvals,” he said.
On 10 April, Versent was named as the AWS Consulting Partner for 2018 in the local region at the AWS Partner Summit Awards in Sydney. The company also took home the AWS APAC Partner of the Year award for the year.