How To Optimise Your AWS Stack

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AWS has grown from a basic infrastructure as a service company into a gargantuan set of services that cover legacy and emerging technologies. And as businesses that have grown alongside AWS have acquired more services managing that tech stack has become more complex and costly.

The Lifestyle and Fitness Group, which includes well known brands such as Fitness First, Goodlife Health Clubs, Barry's Bootcamp, Jetts Fitness, Zap Fitness and Loup faced this challenge. Here's how they consolidated, saved money and enabled new opportunities by better understanding its AWS stack.

Adam Skinner, the chief data and technology officer at Fitness & Lifestyle Group (FLG) found that his AWS was monitored using a wide number of different tools to keep tabs on his AWS environment. With lots of externally and internally facing systems, Skinner wanted a solution to give him an overview of everything that was going on. Tasks such as optimising the tech stack and identifying faults was too complex. Often, when different teams worked on a problem, they used different diagnostic tools, leading to finger-pointing and long solve times for issues.

"The biggest pain point for us was getting a holistic view of out entire AWS stack and all our applications," said Skinner. We run a lot of physical sites, websites and e-comm, a lot of that require significant monitoring. The pain point was there's a lot of different monitoring applications but a lot of them require teams or individuals to setup monitor and maintain. We don't have that sort of resourcing in our business".

FLG has always been a cloud-based business with AWS seen as a key strategic partner.

"We've been a 100% cloud company since the beginning".

But Skinner wanted a different approach. Rather than spending hours or days fixing a problem after it was acute, he wanted a way to detect problems proactively. Part of the challenge was that his teams already had a number of other tools in place. So, whatever tool Skinner chose needed to help the teams move away from tools they had invested time to learn and were comfortable using.

During the AWS Summit in 2018, Skinner attended a session given by Dynatrace that demonstrated a rapidly deployed tool that could detect issues in complex AWS environments without the need for managed services or the need for a team specifically focused on managing the tool.

Within the first two days of using Dynatrace, Skinner found 200 issues that were not previously detected. A quarter of those issues lead to changes that resulted in a 60% optimisation in SQL workload. That saving could have been directed to either cost savings but Skinner was able to use it to focus on new initiatives. It also meant that he now had a single view of what was going on with the infrastructure and apps.

For example, he was able to optimise the customer journey. And while this didn't directly lead to the development of new services and apps for customers, it meant existing services could be delivered more efficiently and reliably.

AWS has the ability to meet the infrastructure needs of many businesses. But it's an extremely complex service that can easily grow and become unwieldy to manage. Finding a tool that allows you to monitor and optimise what you're using can save significant amounts of money that can either be invested into other parts of the business or deliver a bottom line cost saving.


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