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How VAS Group Migrated Their Applications to AWS

VAS Group, a UK leader in residential and commercial property valuations, wanted to move their entire technology infrastructure to AWS—so OSO migrated a critical set of their applications to Amazon’s Elastic Kubernetes Service (EKS).

10

minutes, reduced time to deployment

3

weeks to migrate to AWS

200%

increase in profit from previous year

Quotemark

OSO’s deep skills in AWS and DevOps were critical in helping us to migrate and build the technical foundation for our future growth. The VAS Group is now in a much stronger position to unleash our ambitious product roadmap for 2021!

Gina May COO and Co-Founder | VAS Group

What did OSO provide?

  • Cloud readiness assessment
  • Migration to AWS
  • Cost optimisation
  • A complete operating model design
  • Agile coaching
  • Augmented security and compliance
  • Containerised applications & infrastructure
  • Increased business efficiency
  • Support and guidance

The Company: VAS Group

UK leaders in residential and commercial property valuations.

The VAS Group delivers responsive, data-informed property valuations to its customers, performing 500 valuations per month. (Now, they deliver closer to 1,000 valuations per month, having migrated their entire technology infrastructure to AWS!)

They run a data-rich platform integrated with a number of SaaS products built on the Ruby on Rails framework, serving a portfolio of over 450 mortgage brokers, 130 lenders, and 650 valuation firms across the UK.

In short, VAS Group offers a unique, cloud-based valuation management system that helps their clients reduce property-specific lending risks.

As the company grew due to rapid expansion, the VAS Group decided that it was time to simplify and accelerate its processes.

After consulting with OSO, they decided to migrate their legacy infrastructure to the AWS cloud.

As cloud experts, OSO prepared, designed, and implemented VAS Group’s shift to AWS, migrating a critical set of applications to Amazon’s Elastic Kubernetes Service (EKS). Along the way, they built confidence, skills, and reusable infrastructure.

With each conversation we had with them, we were clearly on the same page: both OSO and VAS Group liked directly working together to provide unique, tailored solutions for clients.

The Challenge ❌

VAS Group recognised that there was an opportunity to move their technology platform beyond its current limitations by enhancing the user experience, improving current functionality and delivering added value, faster.

They had already identified that in order to do this and achieve their further growth plans, the existing IT systems needed significant improvements and AWS was the best way to do this.

The problem was that the VAS Group lacked the technical expertise and understanding of how to migrate and implement these future upgrades.

How could OSO help?

The challenge was to migrate workloads to AWS to enable more business agility, elasticity, resilience and efficiency.

It was also discovered that VAS Group could optimise operating costs by using AWS cloud services and moving away from a physical data centre.

So OSO was brought on board to migrate to AWS all services from the VAS Group on-premise Bytemark servers to a production-ready AWS platform.

The Solution 😊

From the very beginning, the OSO team and VAS Group agreed on a highly collaborative project management approach.

By developing a collaborative approach, we made sure that VAS Group’s employees knew how to use the new technologies post-migration.

This meant that we were more than an application migration team. We provided strategic support throughout the entire project, because it just didn’t make sense to give them the technology tools and not the knowledge.

With continued support and training, we prepared the VAS Group for new ways of working on AWS. This way, they could maintain their systems and troubleshoot problems—even when we weren’t on call.

The starting point was a one-week AWS cloud readiness workshop to understand the limitations of the platform and identify all of the potential risks that may be involved during the migration.

This information was gained by interviewing developers, product owners, stakeholders, and holding many conversations with the core team of technology users in VAS Group.

By the end of this week-long workshop, the OSO team was able to produce documentation for VAS that clearly articulated the goals and objectives of the planned AWS cloud migration.

To be honest, this was incredible. We gained an understanding of how each group of platform users would be impacted, how they would benefit, and what the VAS Group would need to make the migration transition successfully.

What was really exciting for VAS was the opportunity to pay incrementally for leading-edge technologies, instead of making large lump investments to build new platform features.

For example, VAS could train machine learning models in SageMaker. Then, they could deploy them to localised areas throughout the UK to perform more accurate property valuations.

With this vision in mind, VAS’s cloud readiness across each component of the change framework was assessed and laid out on a high-level roadmap—and post-planning and preparation, we executed the AWS migration.

Derek Panton, VAS CTO, said: ‘As a delivery partner, OSO inspired a shift to a customer-first approach, with the aim of optimising and enhancing our current platform’.

What Did OSO Deliver?

  • Comprehensive 2-Year Technology Roadmap – Crafted a path forward based on security, compliance, cloud-native development, and the planned scalability of the new platform. Checked that the migration was completely aligned to the VAS Group’s business vision.
  • Cloud-Native Application Refactoring – Re-architected VAS Group’s platform to leverage Kubernetes in order to increase development velocity, application availability and agility using EKS. Allowed VAS to more quickly and consistently launch new features.
  • Migration of Entire Platform – Migrated VAS’s core customer offering, their S3 archives as well as their web application to Docker and subsequently to EKS.
  • Delivery Team of Experts – Provided a cross-functional migration team containing application developers, DevOps engineers and testers. Employed OSO’s highly skilled Agile coaches to teach Agile best practices and ensure rapid delivery.
  • Deployment Best Practices – Leveraged the newly released GitHub Actions to construct new serverless CI/CD pipelines, compliant with modern industry standards.
  • Automation – Provided reusable infrastructure components.
  • Support – 24 / 7 support application package, from start to finish.

Which Services Did OSO Use?

  • GitHub – Versioned code repository with GitHub actions to trigger Docker builds.
  • EKS – Deployed an AWS managed Kubernetes cluster to quickly scale and innovate.
  • GitOps – Using the Flux v2 operator we were able to fully automate the Kubernetes cluster management and application delivery.
  • ECR – A highly secure private Docker repository that contains fully managed AWS databases.
  • Amazon S3 – Store confidential reporting and property valuation data including PDF, images, stylesheets, database backups, and zip archives containing valuation instructions.
  • Terraform – Provisioned core infrastructure including VPC, Route53, CloudWatch and Cloudtrail
  • Amazon IAM – Access control of users across accounts and environments; Use of IAM Roles to limit the use of access keys in implementations.
  • Amazon RDS – Aurora Postgres with multi-region readers for platform data persistence
  • Quicksight – MI Dashboards to help VAS Group and their customers understand and analyse their data using a rapid, affordable analytics platform.

The Result 🎉

So, how has the VAS Group benefited?

VAS Group has achieved significant ROI after the migration by avoiding slow, manual and complicated software delivery.

In addition, post-migration, their development teams could focus on new business initiatives, rather than spending hours creating environments.

VAS Group now has the infrastructure to accommodate its ambitious growth plans.

The core service is now much more available, resilient and high-performing and the core service offering is many times more responsive and efficient.

Most importantly, after the migration, the VAS Group technology infrastructure has the scalability and resilience to handle VAS’s ambitious future growth plans.

Deployment time has been reduced from days to minutes to enable innovation.

The developers are no longer limited by their infrastructure and have reduced deployment time from days to just minutes.

Using GitOps, VAS Group now has the capacity to deliver on its product roadmap for 2021 and beyond.

Cloud-native tooling has offered better service and rapid product innovation.

Since the cloud migration, VAS Group can now start tapping into the cloud-native tooling that AWS offers. With sophisticated monitoring and big data tools, they can now gain insights from their application users to improve their valuation products.

‘OSO’s deep skills in AWS and DevOps were critical in helping us migrate and build the technical foundation for our future growth’, says VAS CTO Derek Panton. ‘The VAS Group is now in a much stronger position to unleash our ambitious product roadmap!’

To learn more about our cloud migration services, click here.

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