Published: September 19th, 2018

Migrating applications to the cloud isn’t easy, and for large public sector entities with decades-old legacy systems and manual processes, the challenges can be extreme.

This proved true for a large public sector client in Ontario, which wanted to migrate its development, testing and production applications to Microsoft’s Azure public cloud. The organization’s early estimates for a complete migration of its internal and customer-facing applications using its traditional practices was 18 months. The time frame was unacceptable to the client, says David Colebatch, Tidal Migrations’ chief migration hacker.

“They engaged us to apply our technology and processes, so we sprinkled in a little bit of DevOps magic on it and using Red Hat’s Ansible, we were able to automate the migration of this technology, and validate as well,” he explains.

Ansible is an open-source platform for configuration and automation that deconstructs complex infrastructures in a fraction of the time required by traditional migration approaches. The enterprise version of the software, Ansible Tower, is a popular tool in Red Hat’s arsenal of solutions. After two weeks of scripting and fine-tuning, the automatic “test-migrate, and test-again” process took 45 minutes, and was a complete success. Colebatch says the solution resulted in a 97 per cent savings in time with the added benefit of identifying and resolving existing misconfigurations in the applications themselves. This unique solution is why Tidal Migrations won the CIA’s Next Generation Channel Innovator award.

The Canadian public sector has a hard time moving away from its traditional, sometimes archaic processes, says Colebatch.

“I see it all the time. People get entrenched in their ways,” he says, indicating the mentality continues to be that sticking with the status quo is better for security. “It just goes against the agile DevOps movement. The only people in the public sector that tend to adopt what we do are the innovative leaders that are sidestepping the enterprise standards and norms.”

This particular case study was so successful that last year, Tidal decided to integrate Ansible Tower with its own migration management platform and roll it out to channel solution providers. The new software-as-a-service Tidal Migrations platform hasn’t been available for very long, but Colebatch says it has gained serious traction among partners and clients. It is now available on the Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure marketplaces.

In order to respond to threats quickly, organizations, both public and private, need to innovate and stay current.

“Some think preventing change is going to improve security. But we need to respond to threats faster … Spectre, Meltdown, if we take six months to respond to these threats, it just means the door is left open for that length of time,” Colebatch says.