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Aviatrix Blog

Early Adopters of Cloud – Walking the Path with Choice Hotels 

Recently on the Altitude Podcast, Woody was joined by Shawn Seaton, Senior Director Enterprise Architecture at Choice Hotels, who shared the lessons he learned as an early cloud adopter.  


Delving into the complexities of cloud migration, Shawn and Woody explored both anticipated and surprising outcomes experienced at Choice Hotels, one of the world’s largest hotel franchise groups. They reflect on pivotal decision points, the journey into the unfamiliar, and offer nuggets of wisdom for those contemplating a similar path.  


Let’s dive into the highlights from the episode.   


The Mentality of an Early Adopter of Cloud 


As Shawn recounts, Choice Hotels recognized the benefits of cloud technology early on and made the decision to migrate core systems to the cloud. Their culture of innovation and experimentation drove their cloud adoption and allowed them to realize the gains in reliability, scalability, and efficiency. He explains, “We were the first company that sort of said, ‘Well, is there a better way? Is there a more efficient way?’ And so, we moved the property management system into the cloud.”  


He emphasizes the importance of asking these questions and shifting from an administration mentality to a cloud mentality: “We don’t want people that know how to administer particular tools. We want them to understand the overall strategy of what we’re trying to do with the cloud.”   


Lessons Learned in Hindsight 


Shawn offers many hard-earned tips for listeners who are moving to the cloud or already navigating the cloud, notably sharing what he would do differently looking back at his experience as an early adopter. Some of his core pieces of advice include: 


  1. Refrain from deploying production using consoles: Shawn urges listeners to not use the console to deploy into production. He recommends listeners to use infrastructure as code instead, as it allows you to easily change the parameters and redeploy for situations like disaster recovery. He says, “Move from an admin mentality, where you have Linux administrators and database administrators, to a cloud mentality, where people are learning how to code in Python or TypeScript and creating infrastructure as code. Use CloudFormation. Use Terraform. Use Cloud Development Toolkit…Don’t use the console. Use it for learning.” 
  2. Develop a robust tagging strategy: Shawn discusses the importance of beginning with a strong tagging strategy so that you can find everything that belongs to an application. He says, “Don’t rely on people remembering. Rely on the systems and being able to go and query it if you need it and build a diagram using tags.”  
  3. Maximize use of tools built for the cloud: Shawn encourages listeners to let go of old habits and embrace tools designed specifically for the cloud. He says, “Do not bring your networking components like F5 BIG-IPs or even some of the firewall stuff that we have to the cloud. Instead, look for a vendor that matches the cloud, that is cloud-ready, understands distributed firewalls, understands multicloud…It’s difficult to manage your stuff using old ways of thinking.” 


From refactoring legacy systems to embracing innovation, Shawn’s cloud adoption journey at Choice Hotels offers practical insights and wisdom for anyone – whether you are moving to the cloud or already in the cloud.  


If this conversation piqued your interest, listen to the full episode on Apple Podcasts or Spotify and leave a review to let us know what you think. We are excited to continue sharing insights and stories that take your cloud expertise to new heights.  


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