Driving into the cloud future with Agero
Always on call
Have you ever called for help from the side of the road? Busted tire? Out of gas? Stuck in a snow drift?
It was probably an Agero agent that answered your call. In partnership with most of the automobile manufacturers and insurance carriers in the U.S., Agero provides roadside assistance protection to over 80 million vehicle owners and responds to over 10 million requests for emergency assistance every year.
Earlier this year, when the polar vortex caused record-breaking cold and storms across much of the country, Agero’s call centers experienced their highest call volume ever. In the past, the company’s IT team might have been scrambling to provision new resources, while call center agents struggled with slow performance of critical applications. Not so in the cloud.
Slalom helped Agero move its applications and data from nearly 2,000 devices in two data centers to the AWS cloud. Now the company’s infrastructure scales automatically to meet any demand.
Picking up speed
“Every technology decision we make begins with empathy for our customers,” says Bernie Gracy, Agero’s chief digital officer. “The stressed-out drivers in need, the tow truck drivers who depend on us for their livelihoods, and our clients whose own industries are undergoing massive disruption. Agero moved to the cloud because that’s where we can help them most.”
“Every technology decision we make begins with empathy for our stakeholders. Agero moved to the cloud because that’s where we can help them most.”
Since Agero migrated its core infrastructure to AWS, hold times in its call centers have gone down. The cloud enables 99.999% availability, full redundancy, and rapid scaling—while freeing Agero’s IT staff to focus on more valuable projects than server maintenance and updates.
For example, the team has been able to get more proactive with logging and alerting. They’ve written code to search for errors in CloudWatch logs and automatically create on-call alerts, start incident chat groups, open tickets, and send management status updates. All of this helps limit the blast radius of potential failures, reducing mean time to repair.
But the greatest value is how the cloud empowers Agero to innovate faster in response to the massive disruption its clients are facing—and stay ahead of competitors.
“We’re re-architecting many of our applications with microservices and AWS Lambda” says Karen Hutchinson, Agero’s director of DevOps. “We’re implementing DevOps automation to deliver faster. The cloud gives us the latest and greatest operating environments.”
While remaining strong as a service company, Agero is ahead of the pack as a technology company, with serverless applications powering the next-generation of driving intelligence, safety, and convenience.
Roadmap to driver’s seat
Slalom’s role in Agero’s complex migration began with a 16-week project to develop a cloud roadmap. “We used a discovery tool to help us understand what was there from a technical standpoint, and then we did a ton of interviews to understand how everything fit together,” says Jeff Yeakley, a Slalom practice area lead focused on applications and custom development. “Things had built up over time, so there was a lot of institutional knowledge about how it worked, but not necessarily a lot of documentation.”
Slalom delivered a detailed migration plan for close to 200 application servers and 75 additional Oracle and SQL database servers, including the company’s .NET development stack. Then, we worked side-by-side with Agero’s team to build out the plan, including architecture, databases, and security.
Working as a blended team allowed for shared accountability and cross-training. Over time, we transitioned valuable new skills and leadership roles to Agero’s team. “This team has come to really understand AWS, more so than at some companies I know that have been in AWS for years now,” says Hutchinson. “The level of knowledge is deeper.”
“In a year’s passing, the team went from an ordinary IT datacenter mindset to a cutting-edge cloud technology group bursting with ideas to grow the business.”
Pop the champagne
On the night of the migration to AWS—the culmination of nearly a year’s work—more than 60 people gathered in Agero’s headquarters and call centers across the nation to walk through the final transition. “It was a great experience,” says Hutchinson. “We had confidence that it would work.”
“The whole team celebrated with a toast at 5:00 a.m. after we went live,” recalls Matthew Pothier, a Slalom delivery effectiveness consultant. “Throughout the night, Billy McDonald, Agero’s cloud team manager, served as quarterback. It was a real victory moment to sit back and see the results of all our work together.”