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Why cloud native transformation is about people as much as technology for Ticketmaster

Matthew Finnegan | April 4, 2017
Ticketmaster has reduced infrastructure provisioning from months to minutes with Kubernetes containers, says executive programme director Bindi Belanger.

Supporting its ticket sales are 21 different ticketing systems, which include over 250 different products and services. To support its operations it has relied on a mix of new and legacy technologies amassed over decades. "To build and maintain those products and services we have an organisation of over 1,400 people globally and they build that software on our private cloud, which is about 20,00 virtual machines across seven global data centres."

Belanger said that its infrastructure is large and complex, and has relied on legacy systems. "We jokingly refer to the tech stack as the tech museum, because we have software from every era," she said.


Infrastructure bottlenecks

With a diverse business, Ticketmaster has numerous competitors. This places huge important on the ability to move quickly to create reliable software that supports the wider business. Previously, its legacy systems and outdated organisational processes created a bottleneck to new developments.

"We have a lot of competitive pressure across a large market surface areas, [but] we have legacy tech which [was] not ready for containers or public cloud," she said.

The effect was to hold the business back from developing new services, with more time focused on maintaining the stability of legacy systems. "We were spending a lot of our time on constant firefighting, which meant that we had very limited resources to work on projects to add new value and new features to our development teams.

"Those challenges made it very difficult or our developers to work with tech ops," she said, adding that, because of the complexity of the tech stack they were highly dependent on operations, and "didn't have a lot autonomy themselves."

"To get a new app deployed or a new environment built out, if we didn't have capacity on our private cloudit often took several months, especially if it required purchasing additional hardware to build out our prem private cloud."


Devops transformation

Two years ago the company started to make changes to its technology operations teams, and began to adopt a Devops approach.

"We realised that we need to become much more lean and create autonomous teams," she said.

There were challenges here too. The company grew its developer team by 250 percent, but did not expand its operations team at the same pace. "Because ops didn't scale to match the growth of the develop organisation, eventually all roads led to being blocked by operations. So while we got faster at developing, we didn't didn't get faster at delivering value."

This was improved by mixing its systems engineers with product delivery teams. "By removing that organisational silo, by taking them out of ops and putting them with those people that needed to make those changes, we were hoping to really get out of those barriers."


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