A public cloud migration in 22 days

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A public cloud migration in 22 days
Lush's Oxford St, UK store. Credit: Lush.

Lush says it’s possible.

Migrating your core operations from one public cloud to another in less than one month may seem like a farfetched goal, but British cosmetics giant Lush reckons it can be done.

Last September Lush - who you might recognise as the company behind the candy-coloured, sweet smelling bath and body products - was nearing the end of its contract with its existing infrastructure provider Acquia.

Acquia had been hosting Lush's Drupal-based commerce environment out of Amazon Web Services for a few years, but the retailer wanted out.

The arrangement was 'awkward' and rigid, according to Lush chief digital officer and heir to the company throne Jack Constantine (his parents founded the business in 1995).

“We were in a contract that we weren’t really comfortable with, and we wanted to have a look and see what else we could go for,” he told the Google Cloud Next conference in San Francisco today.

“It was a very closed environment [which] made it difficult for us to get visibility of everything we wanted to be able to move over.

"[We] could either sign up for another year, and have that commitment and think up a long-term plan where we had more control ... but [we] would have ended up struggling."

After scouring the market Lush landed on Google’s Cloud Platform. The company was already familiar with Google, having migrated from Scalix to Google Apps (now known as G Suite) in late 2013.

However, it had less than a few months to make the migration, both in time for the end of its existing contract on December 22 as well as the critical Christmas shopping period.

“So it wasn’t just a little bit business critical. We were talking peak trade time. It was a huge deal,” Constantine said.

Lush’s lack of bureaucracy meant Constantine was able to make a quick decision on vendor selection, and “then the team just powered through”, he said.

They also prioritised optimising the "monolithic" Drupal application specifically for the migration, pushing back bug fixes until later.

Lush started the physical migration on December 1 and completed it on December 22.

The team came up against challenges “like with any migration”, Constantine said - “you have to worry about getting your data from one place to another, you have to make sure you have consistency, and customer, product data etc. needs to be up and stable”.

But the CDO said one thing that got the company through the incredibly tight timeframe was the team’s lack of alternatives: there was no fallback plan.

“About a week before the deadline my colleague had a conversation with our Google partner on the phone, they were getting a bit nervous about whether this was going to happen, and they asked us what Plan B was. My colleague said ‘Plan B is to make Plan A happen, that’s it’,” Constantine said.

“When you throw a hard deadline like that it can sound a bit unachieveable, but [you need to keep] that focus on people believing that this is a goal that we can achieve in that timeframe, and not letting people put up the blockers and say ‘we’re going to have to delay this and that’.

“Yes everybody gets very tense but you achieve a lot. You actually get through it and nail it. All the things you need to get done, get done.”

The focus now is on moving the commerce application to a microservices architecture, while looking into various Google tools like the Kubernetes container management system and Spanner relational database.

The retailer also recently built a prototype point-of-sale system using GCP and Android, which it is currently playing around with, Constantine said.

Allie Coyne travelled to Google Cloud Next as a guest of Google

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