Australia Post starts rebuilding its core on AWS

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Australia Post starts rebuilding its core on AWS

Cloud shift moves up a gear.

Australia Post has ramped up its shift to Amazon Web Services, commencing a new phase of work focused on rebuilding its legacy core layer in a public cloud environment.

Chief information officer John Cox revealed the latest phase of work in the government-owned corporation’s seven year cloud journey at the AWS Public Sector Summit on Wednesday.

AusPost has been using AWS since 2013, when it opted to migrate off its traditional on-premise hardware and colidate its data centre footprint. 

“We’ve been starting to … work deeper into our core,” he said, adding that this would involve migrating its event management system, which is used to track parcels and dispatch notifications to customers.

The system, which he described as the “heart of [the] business”, is currently responsible for around five billion events a year, though this is expected to “triple within the next 12 months” due to AusPost’s investment in postal automation.

“We’re starting to build that into the cloud itself, so it's really a shift from taking our legacy environment and actually starting to build it in a cloud native sense,” Cox said.

“It's going to take more than a year for us to actually build it cloud native, but we’re not planning on doing a complete lift and shift at the moment. We’re actually trying to rebuild the core.”

The new work builds on earlier work in AWS, which he said was largely “experimental” and focused on the visual layer.

“The core, in many ways, is more challenging, because you're not just building new things, you've got the complexity of the existing landscape,” he said on the sidelines of the summit.

“So what we’ve done is identified a few key areas that we are transitioning and rebuilding in the cloud - that’s the cloud native applications.

“And then there are workloads that we are moving across to the cloud, which are your more traditional ones.”

Cloud skills top of mind

In preparing for the new work, AusPost has been busy tooling-up its staff to respond to the challenge.

Describing the skills component of the migration as a “huge challenge” for the business, Cox said AusPost had established an cloud upskilling program for internal staff.

“We’re looking at training 150 people in the cloud this year,” he said of the program on the sidelines of the Amazon Web Services Public Sector Summit on Wednesday.

This varies from “general awareness raising” through a regular “agora” session with staff and occasionally external AWS to more “targeted training”.

Cox said that all AusPost architects would receive the targeted training, with others like developers to receive it as the need arises, at least initially. 

“I call it just-in-time training for people who are going to be using those skills, so the developers,” he said.

“I’ve always found that when you’ve trained and you use it immediately it sticks, and thats a key part of the strategy.”

Although much smaller in scale, the project is reminiscent of NAB’s Cloud Guild, which aims to train more than 2000 employees in AWS cloud skills.

The internal program also sits alongside another AusPost IT training program, dubbed the Tech Academy, to train people from outside the business who don't have a technical background.

Cox said that the program had selected 20 “associates”, 80 percent of which came from outside the business, which would be trained over the next two years.

“The first three months is really a boot camp to teach them the technical skills, the ways of working, and really leapfrogging a lot of the technical skills that are coming out from graduates at the moment,” he said.

Earlier this year AusPost said the current skills shortage had affected its ability to find skilled security staff, which has resulted in a “paradigm shift” towards enterprise security.

Justin Hendry travelled to the AWS Public Sector Summit in Canberra as a guest of AWS.

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