Tuesday 5 June 2018

Yelp shut downs most of its data centers and moved to the AWS Cloud platform


When Yelp was a 9-year-old company in 2013 it was built on a set of internal systems. They realized it sooner that operating their data centers on-premise will not be the efficient way to run a business which was continuing to grow rapidly. Well, they also realized that the tech world is not the same as how it was in 2004 when they had launched and they were in need to transform the technology to a more of a modern approach. 

Jason Fennel, SVP of engineering at Yelp said that they had a lot in the hand and it didn’t happen in just an over-night. The company’s data was so at large that it was getting processed in a python repository which was getting bigger all the time. The migration started to the microservices architecture in 2012. The company was operating an extensive Yelp application in its own data centers and as it was growing it was becoming difficult to obtain and get a new hardware online. They observed that it was turning into a foundationless situation for a long-term journey and took a decision to process huge applications on –premises to one build on micro service running on the AWS Cloud. It was a quite a journey for them. 

The Data Center Enigma:

Yelp had a small operation team which was dedicated to set up a new machine. When the engineering expected a new resource requirement then they use to give an adequate amount of time to order new servers and set them up and running which wasn’t the most efficient way to deal with this problem. Well, This problem would easily be solved by the Cloud. 

They were having a hard time operating large data and application on the data center because it used to take few months to order the machine and then another few months to set the servers. Yelp could have enhanced the procedure and the team to carry out this long procedure but when they started to hear a lot about Amazon Web Service and the advantages, they knew that it was time to make the shift for a more efficient process. 

AWS Cloud Journey:

When Yelp saw the cloud market in 2013 they witnessed that Amazon Web Services was the leader technologically. This meant that migrating some of their operations to Elastic Cloud Compute. But they were facing a problem with managing the new infrastructure in the AWS cloud. This was before the Cloud native computing being a concept. There were no Kubernetes at that time. Google was operating in a cloud-native computing environment but it was not an option for most of the companies without a huge team of engineers. 

Yelp had to find a new way of managing operation in the hybrid cloud environment where some of the applications and data lived in the data center and some in the Cloud. It was not so easy to do this in 2013 but they had to find creative ways to make it work. AWS Direct Connect helped them at large to ease out the transition which was released in 2013 and it helped them to connect their data center to the cloud. Yelp was using most of the AWS Cloud services to make their platform more efficient. 

Migrating into the public cloud in depth: 

As Yelp moved most of its data and application to the cloud and was building the internal systems, AWS, on the other hand, wasn’t sitting still. They were improving their products/tools and introducing new services that can scale the business more efficiently. This helped them a lot when they were moving completely to the AWS Cloud. As years passed by it became a whole lot better in managing applications and the infrastructure in AWS and their approach changed from how to migrate to AWS as to how to operate and manage it. 

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