HolidayExtras.com moves to the cloud

UK’s market-leading travel add-ons provider more than halves IT infrastructure spend by moving to Amazon Web Services.

HolidayExtras.com is celebrating a successful migration of their systems to Amazon Web Services (AWS). The business is already seeing a positive impact from the move with the new, cloud-based infrastructure reducing IT hardware spend, by more than half. End-user response times have also been reduced by 20% as HolidayExtras.com takes advantage of the superior network and architecture around AWS’ point of presence.

Other benefits of moving to the cloud include industry-leading response times for the HolidayExtras.com web experience, faster roll-out of new technologies, increased focus on customers, smoother operating expenditure and flexible working offered to the team based in Kent.

HolidayExtras.com decided back in 2009 that it would benefit from the flexibility, efficiency and strategic advantages that cloud computing offers and started with transferring its e-mail system to Google Apps.

This was followed by a nine-month project to transition all customer-facing websites to Amazon Web Services to cater for all IT infrastructure needs. The project was delivered in an agile manner, with the solution incorporating the latest pieces of Amazon Web Services technology - including Elastic Load Balancing (ELB) and Relational Database Service (RDS) - as they were made available.

ADVERTISEMENT

The project involved transitioning 10 quad core blade web servers and two, 1 Terabyte MySQL databases on the backend; to 12 web servers (across three Availability Zones), one large RDS instance, a small number of memcached instances, and 10 ELBs.

Nilan Peiris, Chief Marketing Technology Officer, HolidayExtras.com said, “This move was prompted by our business strategy and the vision of developing hassle-free customer technology. Our senior management team and the board of directors agreed that Amazon Web Services would allow us to transform our business model whilst improving agility across the company.

“We have reduced our capital spend by more than half – and moved this from depreciating capex to a scalable operating expense. Historically we spent hundreds of thousands of pounds on hardware and software that was needed to support our peak volume. We now have an IT spend that scales elastically with volume as a cost of sale. This gives us money and time to focus more on our customers.”

To ensure redundancy of their cloud infrastructure, HolidayExtras.com has chosen to follow cloud computing best practice and has architected across three Availability Zones in AWS’ EU West Region. By architecting across Availability Zones HolidayExtras.com ensures high availability for their customer-facing website and means that they can maintain the high quality customer web experience even in the event that one Availability Zone experiences a service disruption.

Nilan Peiris continues, “AWS is right for us because of its continued innovation, knowledgeable account managers that have supported us during the transition, and the flexibility it provides by allowing us to expand our infrastructure at the click of a button. We can now move faster and more cost-efficiently than our competitors, meaning more focus on retaining and gaining customers and less on the infrastructure.

“The technical teams at HolidayExtras.com worked tirelessly to ensure there was as little disruption to the business as possible during the move, and the whole company is now reaping the rewards. Technology is no longer a blocker for growth.”

Iain Gavin, Senior Sales Support Manager, Amazon EU, said of the move, “HolidayExtras.com has demonstrated how a mid-size company can move onto the cloud and, not only save money but also, use technology to offer their customers a superior user experience. With a team that is dedicated to helping customers have a hassle-free holiday, we believe HolidayExtras.com is a great example of a UK company using cloud computing to help their business.”