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Saturday, May 27th, 2017

Cloud

Cloud native transformation is about both people and technology at Ticketmaster

Cloud native is a term that is increasingly used to describe the combination of operations tools such as containers with micro service architectures, resulting in applications that are suited to distributed cloud infrastructure. The idea is that it makes for more resilient and flexible software.

Although much of the concept centres around technology, Ticketmaster executive program director, Bindi Belanger, says a change in the way teams work is equally important.

"Cloud native transformations within your company require major cultural transformations," Belanger told attendees at Cloud Native Con in Berlin this week. "Everything from how you define and set goals, how your leadership views the importance of outcomes over outputs, then the skill sets and teams and the way that you organise the work.

"I would argue that the way that you organise your delivery of cloud native solutions is just as important as the technology choices that you make."

The company has realised some significant benefits from its cloud native and devops project. Having relied on outdated systems and processes in its tech operations division, Ticketmaster is now able to provide its developers with infrastructure in a matter of minutes.

"Because of cloud native solutions we have gone from several months to deploy new infrastructure and environments, to when we were in the middle of our devops transformation we got down to a few weeks. And now with cloud native it is just a matter of minutes," she said.

There have been similar benefits around the frequency of software releases. In the past, the level of coordination required between ops, application support teams and software teams meant that releases didn't happen very often, she explained. In some cases just once every few months.

"With devops we finally got to a more weekly delivery culture and then with cloud native teams were able to release new features as often as they need during the day."

Legacy systems

Two years ago, however, this was not the case for Ticketmaster.

The company was founded in 1976 and launched its online ticket sales service in 1996. It has since grown substantially, joining with Live Nation in 2010 and now provides a range of services - such as producing concerts - in addition to its core business, with revenues of $7.6 billion.

It is a large, technology-intensive organisation. One of its main challenges is handling huge volumes of traffic on its network that spike when tickets for major acts go on sale. This requires its systems to scale up to handle 150 million transactions in minutes in some cases.

"We invite the entire world to come DDOS our website every time we have a major artist on sale," Belanger explained.

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.