Mountaineering goes digital and climbs even closer to the clouds. How is that possible? Today we’ll share the experience of Swiss Alpine Club (SAC) who moved its online services to the cloud hosting and achieved high availability in order to provide reliable assistance to the clients.
Our guide to the inner world of this immense transformation is Daniel Fernandez, Head of IT at Swiss Alpine Club. He is responsible for maintaining, running, modernizing, and integrating all necessary solutions to bring services and products of the Club to the next level according to the digital strategy of SAC.
We discussed with Daniel his overall mission in the company, as well as the ways of helping the business to fulfill today’s (and tomorrow’s) needs of Club members, customers and officials. Below you’ll find the highlights about SAC digital plans and how they were implemented with the help of internal IT team and support of competent partners.
About Swiss Alpine Club
Since its foundation in 1863, the Swiss Alpine Club has been a driving force in the development of the Alpine region and alpinism. They advocate responsible mountaineering while ensuring free access to the mountain world.
Today, SAC has approximately over 150k members, 153 mountain huts with about 1 million visitors per year. In addition, the company offers a wide variety of services for the amateurs of the Swiss mountains via their website that includes route portal, an online store with SAC products, magazine “Alps”, education and training portal, central library, and much more.
SAC online system is an interconnection of numerous sub-websites with shops and reservation services from different providers. The growing number of categories and directions, as well as 500k users and 14k roles increased the level of complexity while scaling and managing the project. At some point, it became clear that the system requires restructuration and changing the backbone in order to make user experience more simple, comfortable and reliable. This became the core aim for the planned digitalization.
The project relaunch started late 2017 with straightforward set of goals:
easy usage and access of services for members and non-members
improved scalability and reduced downtimes to zero
In order to implement the first point of the strategy, SAC worked together with WSO2 Certified Integration Partner Avintis. While for the second aim, it was decided to start running the applications inside Docker containers using Jelastic PaaS.
Cloud Platform Choice
Initially, classical server housing was used for running the workloads that made the project dependent on the hardware investments and slowed down the business growth. But at the same time, SAC was completely happy with performance and availability of the servers provided by their infrastructure vendor Trendhosting, as well as their high-level support.
Gladly for Swiss Alpine Club, Trendhosting had a technologically advanced product powered by Jelastic PaaS in order to help them in solving the appeared blockers on the way to flexibility and high availability without the need to migrate to any other infrastructure vendor.
“Now we have the best of both parts – flexibility of Jelastic cloud platform with a top support and consulting from Trendhosting” Daniel Fernandez, Swiss Alpine Club
SAC team is mainly using PHP programming language as part of the project is handled by TYPO3-CMS. In addition, some services are run with LAMP and Tomcat servers. Currently, all the stacks are provisioned as Jelastic certified or native Docker containers and, by default, provided with automatic vertical scaling based on the current load.
The PaaS made it easy to create new environments for testing and staging, set up clustering for high availability of productions, automate horizontal scaling based on the project growth, as well as smoothly manage the whole system and cloud infrastructure within a single Jelastic Dashboard.
In addition to technical flexibility, Swiss Alpine Club got extra efficiency with “pay-as-you-use” pricing model. They forgot about right-sizing problem and the need to reserve capacity beforehand or overpay for the limits, as now SAC pays only for actually consumed resources that are allocated automatically.
“Pricing model used in Jelastic is convenient for us, as well as more transparent and fair compared to paying algorithms from other cloud vendors like AWS or similar.” Daniel Fernandez, Swiss Alpine Club
In the near time, Swiss Alpine Club plans to migrate all their web infrastructure to Jelastic PaaS to unify the management and benefit from interoperable containerized components of the project.