Ask Media Group operates over 30 websites and provides enriched search results, articles, galleries, and shopping sites to over 100 million unique visitors each month. About two years ago, Ask Media was looking for ways to grow the business, draw advertisers, and expand its audience. Routine tasks like onboarding developers or releasing software took too long. The monolithic system that was in place had limited capabilities and added financial burdens for services that went unused.
Chenglim Ear, principal software engineer at Ask Media, recently sat down with Trevor Hansen, solutions architect at AWS, to discuss how adopting GitLab empowered developers to improve the customer experience, release software quicker, and leverage AWS cloud services.
Building microservices from monoliths
Ask Media was looking to move away from a monolithic system to microservices in order to modernize workflow and improve the overall business process. “We wanted to move over to microservices. We wanted to leverage Kubernetes. It was a new container world that was shaping. When we looked at GitLab, it was very complete in providing what we needed to be able to build images, to run on containers,” according to Chenglim. “That was a very big deciding factor. GitLab had everything that we needed.”
Developers can now break services into multiples and develop them independently, own the code, and have full visibility prior to deployment. “We're making the hidden logic transparent and we enable the parts of the logic to be independently developed in parallel. So you can have developers all working on their own, with different skillsets,” Chenglim says.
Containers, cost, and scalability
“We needed a system that could handle change. When we look at what we did to speed up development, make it simple and transparent, and control the cost, we see a paradigm shift. GitLab gave us push-button releases. Docker and Kubernetes enabled us to switch to a microservices architecture and AWS enabled auto scaling,” says Chenglim. “On Amazon, we started building Kubernetes clusters and GitLab became our command and control interface.”
Ask Media was looking for a tool that could scale and grow as needed. Cost, speed, and functionality are the tenets that AWS focuses on providing to its customers, according to Hansen. AWS works closely with Ask Media to ensure that the containers in place offer the scalability, flexibility, and timeliness they need.
With GitLab and AWS, Ask Media developers built out a platform that enables the knowledge from all members of the teams. “With AWS, we wanted a product that was fairly complete and mature. AWS has a lot of history and lots of services. We definitely wanted to be able to leverage those services and to build on a platform that was a solid,” Chenglim says. “We set off to build Kubernetes clusters, right on EC2 instances. We continue to look at opportunities to leverage the resources available through AWS.”
To learn more about how Ask Media made the transition to cloud native, check out the full webcast.