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Universal Places adopts cloud platform

By Retail Technology | Monday June 17 2013

Spanish online travel agency uses platform services to ensure its IT infrastructure can cost-effectively serve up dream holidays

Universal Places has cut maintenance time and scaled up server management to accommodate seasonal swings in demand with using the CloudBees platform-as-a-service (PaaS).

The online travel agency serves 9,000 seaside and countryside destinations in Spain and Portugal, using CloudBees Java PaaS technology to reduce infrastructure maintenance time by 80% and scale its server capacity as needed.

Streamlining management tasks

Overall implementing CloudBees’ PaaS helped Universal Places cut the time it spent weekly on non-development tasks and IT infrastructure from 16 hours to about 30 minutes. This has enabled software developers to focus more time on improving web applications and efficiently managing the agency’s business.

The support CloudBees provided for simple configuration, rapid deployment and easy scaling also allowed Universal Places to better manage seasonal ebbs and flows in agency bookings. CloudBees’ ability to scale enables Universal Places to accommodate server demands that can fluctuate by a factor of 10 from month to month, with business shifting dramatically to the seaside hotels portal from April through September, and to the B&B countryside portal from October through May.

“With CloudBees we have shortened time to market because we are spending 80 percent less time resolving infrastructure issues,” says Juan Rodriguez Feria, Universal Places chief technology officer and lead architect of the company’s internet platform. “The CloudBees Platform automatically scales, so we always have enough servers to meet traffic demands in the high season, but we’re not paying for servers when we don’t need them in the low season. Never has it been easier to manage a Java IT infrastructure and deploy to production.”

Scaling to meet growth

Universal Places initially hosted the travel portals on a traditional infrastructure that it set up in-house. It rapidly outgrew this set up and migrated to Amazon Web Services (AWS). After evaluating several PaaS solutions, the Universal Places development team selected the CloudBees runtime services based on ease of use, configurability, an extensive partner ecosystem and one-click deployment and rollback.

From the start, the CloudBees Platform fit well with the team’s agile methodology for rapid development and continuous delivery of Java applications with the Grails web framework. “We installed the CloudBees Grails plugin, configured some parameters and the database and in minutes we had our first app running on CloudBees,” Feria said.

The team’s previous deployment process required numerous manual steps, including uploading of the web application archive (WAR) file via file transfer protocol (FTP), backing up databases, starting and stopping application servers and redirecting web servers. Reverting to a previous version of the app was equally arduous. With the CloudBees platform, the process has been streamlined – with the database backups and requests to deploy each done in just one click.

The development team now has plans in place to incorporate continuous integration (CI) into its development process using the CloudBees development services, powered by CI tool, Jenkins.

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