Business and technology teams work more closely together than ever before to fuel innovation and achieve strategic business objectives. In the hospitality sector, companies like Choice Hotels have prioritized application development in order to enhance the customer experience from start to finish—which is crucial to standing out among competitors and driving revenue streams.
This level of innovation requires easy and secure access to data. However, data friction has an enormous impact on Agile development. Getting the right data to the right developers took Choice Hotels weeks of manual effort, making it extremely difficult to achieve the kind of Agile development the company envisioned. It had to provision necessary data and infrastructure support across 10 teams, which ballooned to 30 or more teams during seasonal peaks. Each developer had 7–8 iterations. Further, approximately 130 applications required nonproduction environment support.
On top of that, the team had to confront security constraints. Developers, of course, want data closer to the production environment, but it had to be masked and secured first to protect personal user information. This manual masking process involved scripting for each database as well as a full database scrub for each test cycle. Database administrators were working over the weekends and after hours to make sure developers could keep working without interruption. Spikes in traffic during seasonal peaks added to the costs and challenges, making long-term cyclical planning difficult.
Nick Suwyn explains why and how Choice Hotels adopted a DevOps and DataOps approach to solve this issue. Today, the entire weeks-long process is automated and secure data is provisioned in minutes. After-hours and weekend DBA cycles are a thing of the past, and developers now have access to a self-service portal through which they can access an unlimited number of virtual test databases integrated into their Jenkins toolchain, which are templated workflows in automation and orchestration platforms. This Jenkins integration speeds up test cycles by allowing developer teams to create bookmarks and eliminate the need for custom scripts and time-to-restore databases within the Jenkins workflow. The ability to bring up and destroy virtual databases (with automated masking) in line in real time also increased speed and reduced infrastructure utilization.
Nick Suwyn is a principal systems engineer at Choice Hotels, where he supports the company’s efforts to improve the stability, security, and scalability of its IT systems. Nick has a robust background in data management and infrastructure technologies, and he is skilled on regulatory matters including PCI and Sarbanes-Oxley, as well as strategies for disaster recovery.
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