Sensis achieves 'Cloud Only'
with AWS and Mantalus
Sensis leverages the flexibility of Amazon Web Services (AWS) to exit its data centres and optimise operational efficiency using DevOps and CI/CD
Sensis is Australia’s #1 marketing services company. The Sensis purpose is to engage Australian consumers with businesses and today delivers on that promise through its leading digital consumer businesses (Yellow Pages, White Pages, TrueLocal, Whereis, Skip), search engine marketing and optimisation services, website products, social, data and mapping solutions and through its digital advertising agency, Found. Sensis is also Australia’s largest print directory publisher including the Yellow Pages and White Pages.
In 2014, a majority stake in Sensis was acquired by US private equity firm Platinum Equity – a business known for driving down the cost base of its acquisitions to extract maximum value. As the ink dried on that deal - the Platinum Equity executive team, working with Sensis CEO John Allan, began a re-alignment of the business to ensure adoption of their lean cost ethos. The onus was placed on each Sensis business unit to right-size for cost-efficiency, and IT was not immune. The question was posed; ‘How can Sensis continue to innovate its digital portfolio, while reducing its IT operating costs?’.
Sensis has long been known locally for driving tech innovation. As much as they are an advertising and marketing business, they have led the way in the adoption of agile development methodologies, and the utilisation of emerging technologies. This helped to incubate a nimble and decisive IT organisation, led by CIO Baden Roberts. When the time came to assess the IT budget for savings opportunities, a small team of dedicated and forward-thinking professionals inside the business persuaded Mr Roberts and the Executive Leadership Team, that adopting a cloud first approach to IT Infrastructure would be a game changer.
By utilising the services of AWS Partner Mantalus, Sensis not only delivered on cost reduction, but prepared its IT organisation for a bright DevOps future. Mantalus was chosen as one of the fastest growing AWS Partners in APAC, and as a true innovator in how Whole-of-Enterprise AWS migrations should be approached.
Mantalus outlined a migration program based on established AWS migration best practices, then applied a Sensis specific lens. This methodology and approach is the Mantalus 'secret-sauce', and ensures successful large scale AWS transitions for enterprises. A large part of that approach is ensuring the Sensis IT team 'buy-in' to the outcome. Mantalus fostered that 'buy-in' but-in by assisting Sensis with the up-skilling of its incumbent resources, another key pillar in the Mantalus methodology. Andrew Stevens, CEO of Mantalus explains, “AWS might all be about pay-as-you-go infrastructure, but at the foundation of that is human capability. By investing in their staff and ensuring they are part of the journey, enterprises can galvanise the entire organisation to support their cloud migration goal”.
How successful was the Sensis migration to AWS? The numbers speak for themselves. “We set out with this audacious goal of getting our data centre footprint to zero in 24 months, and the project paying itself back within 3 years” Said Mr Roberts. “The actual result was quite remarkable. We completed the program in only 20 months, and it had already paid for itself in OPEX saving by month 13, three times faster than we had forecast”.
At the outset of the initiative, Sensis owned $49.5m of IT Infrastructure in multiple data centres. At conclusion, their only enterprise equipment is network switches and routers for their corporate office locations. Mr Roberts is buoyant about the outcome, “Not only do we now avoid 99% of our former asset refresh costs, but we also cut our IT OPEX expenses in half. In real dollar terms, that's a $19.5m saving, and that 50% reduction includes the brand-new cost of our monthly AWS bill. Even that line item is trending down, as AWS services actually get cheaper over time”.
During the migration program, 174 discrete applications and platforms were shifted to AWS, following 6R's methodology, helping to ensure each end-state architecture was matched to the specifics of its hosted workload. Those 174 applications were underpinned by more than 3000 virtual and physical servers, 200+ databases and more than 6 petabytes of configured storage.
Sensis put full credit for the success of their cloud migration in the hands of Mantalus. Mr Roberts summarised his thoughts on Mantalus’ capability; “Not only did the Mantalus team drive a compelling argument for why we should migrate, but they over-delivered in a way rarely seen nowadays. That’s the power in selecting the correct AWS Partner for the task at hand”.
Mr Roberts, a veteran of recent cloud migrations at businesses like Talent2, is not shy with his praise, “Having had experience transitioning companies to the cloud I can honestly say this is without doubt the best run transition I’ve seen”.