Cultivating a DevOps mindset at Australia’s largest franchising family

The opportunity at a glance

Jim’s Group engaged Cevo to promote a true DevOps culture during their migration to the AWS cloud, while developing a solution capable of handling an increased user base and modern technologies, future proofing themselves for ongoing success.

Industry

Customer overview

As Australia’s largest franchising family, Jim’s Group is a collection of more than 4,600 franchisees across more than 50 divisions, including Jim’s Mowing, Jim’s Cleaning, Jim’s Pool Care, and more.

Business challenge

Jim’s Group has experienced rapid growth in recent years, resulting in an exponentially growing user base. Previously, they had been limited to a private cloud restricted to Virtual Machines (VMs), however a need emerged to evolve to a solution that would allow them to develop previously aging software and handle modern technologies such as SaaS and IaaS. The transformation was also driven by their new franchisee customer management system, Jim’s Jobs. 

Jim’s Group offers lead generation and allocation to their franchisees, meaning it’s up to each franchisee to manage information such as allocated jobs, customer contacts and more. As a customer-driven organisation, Jim’s Group recognised that this was something their experience was perfect to address. Hence, the Jim’s Jobs platform was born. Jim’s Jobs is a CRM system which franchisees globally can use to manage staff, workflow, contacts and billing.

To fully realise this goal of providing better end-to-end customer experience, the team reviewed the current infrastructure and hosting setup. Following the identification of hardware issues and a lack of flexibility with their legacy software and systems, Jim’s Group engaged Cevo for their cloud migration expertise, to help them move from an on-premise monolithic application stack to AWS cloud. To ensure the success of Jim’s Jobs, the IT team also required new skills in Cloud and DevOps practices to ensure the project was completed within the target time frame. 

The migration to AWS was the first step in modernising Jim’s Group’s old environment to utilise modern practices of DevOps and modern solutions of containers and serverless architecture.

Solution

Jim’s Group leveraged Cevo’s cloud experts to develop a three-part approach and promote a true DevOps culture, to: 

  • Embed experienced engineers within the migration team to foster natural knowledge transfer through the course of the project, while developing tooling, processes and practices.
  • Assist in the design and implementation of reusable migration patterns which could then later be applied to additional workloads.
  • Upskill Jim’s Group’s engineers to solidify ongoing access to skilled in-house AWS specialists.

Jim’s created a ‘Platform Team’ comprised of their current infrastructure team, and hosted a series of workshops on deploying infrastructure and best practice methods on managing it, ultimately giving them autonomy. This created a positive DevOps mindshift in their practice, boosted confidence and fostered an enthusiasm around teaching best practice methods under AWS. 

Cevo also set up a procedure that allowed for more controlled access, utilising the principles of least privilege to ensure a cleaner, more streamlined access for the team.

AWS Solutions

The delivery of this engagement comprised of a mix of Cloud Native technologies from AWS including:

  • AWS EC2
  • AWS RDS
  • AWS WAF
  • Amazon Elasticache Redis
  • Amazon Route 53
  • AWS Certificate Manager
  • AWS Backup
  • AWS Transit Gateway
  • AWS Security Hub
  • Amazon GuardDuty
  • Amazon CloudWatch
  • AWS Config
  • AWS Control Tower
  • AWS SSO

As well as the integration of a number of existing and 3rd party tooling including:

  • Windows Server
  • Microsoft SQL Server
  • DataDog
  • Atlassian Bitbucket
  • Atlassian Bamboo
  • Octopus Deploy
  • Slack

 

CI/CD Solution

Cevo split the project into multiple stages, holding workshops with the team to showcase the new functionalities at each completion stage. Cevo assisted in the rotation of developers through the migration team, ensuring knowledge was distributed broadly and evenly.

Jim’s Group uses the Atlassian suite, so Bitbucket was employed as the repository for CloudFormation templates. Cevo worked with Jim’s Group team to implement code review, approval and migration from development through production using Bitbucket. Once approved, code was merged into their respective branches. CodePipeline would then be triggered and deployed or updated on the CloudFormation templates.

While sprints and stand ups were a standard tool for the development teams, they were relatively new for the platform teams. This was also true of deploying infrastructure-as-code. Cevo helped to bring the whole Jim’s Group team into a more agile methodology with sprints, stand ups, showcases and retrospectives.

Benefits

The seamless upskilling process and enthusiasm from the team was a major benefit of this project. The practical, hands-on and co-sourced delivery approach with key team members allowed for the development and build of the solution under the guidance of Cevo’s expert consulting team. This occurred in a variety of ways, including:

  • The Jim’s team began a formal, structured education plan for more than 15 Jim’s Group members, giving them the depth and breadth of understanding of the AWS platform and allowing them to achieve their associate certificate via the AWS Cloud Practitioner exam.
  • Cevo and Jim’s Group project team members held showcase sessions, shared information and spread general awareness to help engage the broader IT team at Jim’s Group throughout the cloud journey. These consisted of a six week cloud fundamentals session for over 80 IT team members. Regular showcases also illustrated how the AWS services were being contextualised in the Jim’s environment. These sessions supported a smoother, and more enthusiastic transition and adoption.

 

The Jim’s Group infrastructure team were able to gain more freedom and ownership by moving from the previous monolithic stack to the cloud. A culture of regular and consistent sharing has allowed the team to stay engaged with changing trends.

With ongoing support from Cevo, presenting new and fresh learning content showcases, this model will continue with a broader rollout of formal training to the next cohort as deeper cloud adoption is achieved.

Overall, the team at Jim’s Group felt the level of knowledge shared by the Cevo team to be, in their words, inspiring.