During a recent interview on theCUBE’s stage at AWS re:Invent 2022, Aviatrix Rod Stuhlmuller, VP of Solutions Marketing, sat down with Eric Norman, Head of Infrastructure, Architecture, and Innovation at IHG, to talk about IHG’s cloud journey.
IHG is a multinational hospitality company with 17 brands, including Six Senses, Regent, Intercontinental, Kimpton, Vignette, Crowne Plaza, and Holiday Inn. Their global footprint spans more than 100 countries and can house over 800,000 guests per night.
Like many enterprises migrating to multicloud, IHG didn’t want to architect each cloud differently – they sought a cloud networking architecture that was repeatable and scalable, agnostic of the underlying cloud service provider. A simple enough concept, but one that’s quickly complicated by different native cloud constructs and unique skill sets. Operating a global environment with diverse regional regulatory and privacy requirements added to the complexity.
In the early days, IHG relied on native constructs within each cloud for networking and security but quickly found they couldn’t achieve the automation or scalability they required. As IHG began to shift towards an automated, infrastructure as code, DevOps approach to infrastructure deployment, Aviatrix provided a solution that achieved the speed and agility their developers were looking for.
“[With Aviatrix], we can shift left a lot of the activities that a developer in the past had to go over a fence to ask for help with, thanks to the automation of the network and the security built into it,” said Norman.
Visibility Across Multiple Clouds, Regions, and Availability Zones
Multinational enterprises like IHG are driven to require multicloud solutions for many reasons, ranging from mergers and acquisitions, to the need for redundancy and high availability. Sometimes, it simply comes down to the fact that some applications just operate better in one cloud versus another. These enterprises operate too quickly to be reinventing the wheel for every new public cloud, region, or availability zone. To remain agile, they need consistency, uniformity, repeatability, complete visibility, and automation.
“When you start building all these clouds across multiple regions, multiple availability zones, and with different cloud providers or SaaS providers – you’re moving data all over the place,” said Norman. “And if you don’t have a single pane of glass to see that entire network and be able to route accordingly, it’s going to be a zoo.”
The right balance requires systems that enable developers to operate with agility and speed without compromising on the controls, security, and compliance that the enterprise requires.
Consistent Uptime for Business-Critical Applications
What does success look like for a multinational hospitality company? Most want to exceed guest expectations, maximize occupancy, and meet the needs of the business. In a hyper-customer-centric industry, infrastructure and executive teams also know that system uptime and global application availability directly influence the bottom line.
“Being able to deploy an application in multiple regions elevates the product’s availability to our guests,” said Norman. “The longer I’m up, the more revenue I can produce.”
As guests’ experiences move into the cloud, so must the business-critical applications they require. The availability of business-critical applications in the cloud requires powerful capability, consistent uptime, and the ability to troubleshoot in real-time when something goes wrong. Aviatrix provides embedded network telemetry that IT professionals depend on to keep business-critical applications running.
Extending the Customer Experience to the Edge
For a brand committed to delivering a premier experience wherever its guests are, extending IHG’s foundational cloud networking to the edge is critical for enabling hotel owners to deliver a quality experience to the guest. It also needs to be able to bring data from critical partners, such as the one powering their centralized reservation system, into regions where it can be processed.
To meet its needs at the edge, IHG used Equinix to introduce a performance hub architecture that sits in every region, in every public cloud, and with every partner. Through Equinix’s recent partnership with Aviatrix, IHG built a mesh network across its global regions to quickly deploy new landing zones and public clouds with their networking construct.
The Aviatrix and Equinix collaboration extends the cloud operational model that Aviatrix delivers out through Equinix’s global fabric – granting companies like IHG visibility and control across the globe.
Addressing the Growing Cloud Networking Skills Gap
IHG is committed to empowering its teams by coordinating training opportunities for career development in engineering, operations, and cloud network architecture, including the Aviatrix Certified Engineer (ACE) Program. Norman and his engineering team are among the 18,000+ people that have received their ACE certification in the last three years.
The ACE Program aims to arm IT professionals with multicloud expertise through a standard learning path, with optional operations and automation courses for specialized cloud roles. The ACE courses become increasingly valuable as data center evacuation dates loom on the horizon for many IT organizations and business-critical applications continue to move to the cloud.
The ACE Automation specialty training on Infrastructure as Code (IaC) is especially valuable for networking professionals new to the cloud and learning that networking in the cloud is very different than networking in the data center. ACE provides IT professionals the real-world knowledge to architect a high-performance, low latency, reliable, scalable backbone.
The Power of Partnership
Building and managing a multicloud architecture is a marathon, not a sprint. Crossing the finish line depends on having the right partners to support you in meeting your goals.
“You could do a marathon by yourself – but if you want to improve and become a great runner, you need a coach, you need a nutritionist, you need people running alongside you to make you go faster and farther,” said Norman. “Having a partner like Aviatrix helps the team to be successful.”
Listen to the full interview with Rod Stuhlmuller, VP of Solutions Marketing at Aviatrix, and Eric Norman, Head of Infrastructure, Architecture, and Innovation at IHG, on theCUBE live from AWS re:Invent 2022.
Did you miss any of the news at AWS re:Invent? Watch the re:Invent Unpacked webinar recap with AWS and Aviatrix.