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The Alchemy-Cycloid story

Migrating infrastructure to Kubernetes
at scale

 

alchemy logo

Alchemy assists companies of all sizes in implementing the open solution for managing and distributing digital content using Phraseanet, the new Phrasea, a very promising DAM/MAM on AWS. Among their clients are schools, TV channels, trade and distribution industries, and banks such as Société Générale, Universal Music, Lactalis, TF1, PMU, and Ministère de la cohésion.

The goal was for everyone internally or externally to be able to deploy a new project in a few clicks respecting best practices, scalability, and automation.

Guillaume Maubert, CEO of Alchemy

The challenge

The need to scale and accelerate

Today, there have been more than 30 000 downloads and billions of multimedia files managed by Phraseanet servers on 5 continents. As the number and caliber of clients increase, so must the capability of the software to accommodate the growing interest. Alchemy’s goal was to accelerate business growth and increase profitability by developing a SaaS offering that would speed up deployment and take the agile approach to its customers.

They decided to scale their automation using Kubernetes clusters. However, Kubernetes requires vast specialist knowledge to configure clusters and even more time and effort to maintain them. Alchemy was also looking forward to diversifying their cloud usage and not relying solely on AWS.

  • Lack of tools and expertise to create Kubernetes automation at scale
  • Need for hybrid cloud support
  • Need for governance guardrails

Why Cycloid?

Governance, deployment, operations, and FinOps in one place

Cycloid proposed modules around governance, deployment, operations, and FinOps, all of which were being used by Alchemy to improve efficiency.

One of Cycloid’s core features is the service catalog Stacks and the easy-to-use self-service portal called StackForms. Stacks are pre-configured automation parameters that can be replicated and reused. StackForms hide the technical nuts and bolts of managing the automation behind an intuitive easy-to-use interface so that everyone, regardless of their role or technical skill, can build, deploy and run applications using pre-configured automation. A simple drop-down menu or a toggle lets you choose variables, select the size of the environment and even estimate cloud costs - no need to go into the depths of code to change a setting.

Then all projects are deployed through a unique open-source tool CI/CD pipelines.

Cycloid also supports all major public clouds (AWS, GCP, and Azure) as well as private clouds (Nutanix, VMware etc) for greater flexibility.

Finally, with Cycloid Alchemy was able to manage different customers in their own environments and take control of cloud costs through cloud cost management and optimization module.

  • Self-service portal allows for autonomy and independence
  • RBAC and governance for multiple customers
  • Projects are deployed through CI/CD pipelines

 

Kubernetes migration experience

The plan was decided - to migrate infrastructure configurations to Kubernetes by creating automation parameters in Stacks, which the team can then use without fear in StackForms. This would ensure that all services and requirements for the infra are deployed via a pipeline and respect AWS best practices. Alchemy already had some automation to build/deploy their applications, however, it was not 100% automated. As for the infrastructure, that part had to be built from scratch.

Cycloid’s DevOps team has assisted Alchemy in creating the automation. The infrastructure Stack would allow Alchemy to create AWS EKS (Elastic Kubernetes Service) cluster and external services.

The second application Stack was created to make it possible to deploy all their applications inside an AWS EKS cluster and configure them to use AWS services.

As developers, we loved being able to operate the application in a simple way. It’s based on GitOps so we aren’t locked to any one service and embeds open-source solutions natively - which, being based on open-source Phraseanet, we really appreciated.

Guillaume Maubert, CEO of Alchemy

Outcomes

Cloud governance and compliance: build your own opinionated platform

Scaling will always require a few security guardrails. Since Alchemy works with multiple customers, they need to be able to define user roles and control access to certain levels of automation. Cycloid allows setting the limits and standards (in terms of teams, roles, and policies) that are maintained by the Alchemy team. These features pre-define minimal user privilege, ensuring governance but allowing exactly the right amount of flexibility individuals need to do their job.

 

Self-service in a simple way: flexibility without compromise on governance & best practices

There’s little to no onboarding needed to be able to work with automation as the interface is intuitive and allows the user to change settings (within the user role) with confidence. The technology is compatible with any YAML or Terraform-based tech - which was the case for Alchemy and allows developers to choose existing clusters and deploy autonomously, without the need for DevOps intervention.

 

Accelerate time-to-market and improve efficiency: anyone can deploy a new project

Even with a deep knowledge of Kubernetes, setting up a new cluster with all the necessary services inside (including AWS) could easily take more than a day.

With Cycloid’s Stacks, it takes 5 minutes to configure, and 30 minutes for AWS to provision the infrastructure - a new environment in less than an hour!

With a self-service portal and a catalog of fully automated infra templates, Alchemy can now scale up its automation and interact with its newly migrated infrastructure without fear. The automation is being maintained by the Cycloid DevOps team - and Alchemy’s developers are free to innovate and deploy applications autonomously, while in full control of their cloud usage.

 

Unrestricted innovation: focus on what matters

With repetitive tasks and grunt work out of the way, Alchemy’s team can now focus on what truly matters - improving their software and bringing the best experience to their customers.

It’s a win/win on all sides - effortless scaling up, autonomy for developers, and more freedom for DevOps.

What's ahead

Alchemy’s team is looking at solutions to help take better control of their cloud usage and limit cloud consumption, including Cycloid’s built-in Cloud Cost Management module. With a detailed overview of their cloud spending per project, region, customer, and more, they’ll be able to get a better understanding of their cloud computing costs and take the first steps to limit cloud waste and reduce their cloud usage carbon footprint.

Cycloid’s hybrid cloud management tools will support every step of their move to hybrid cloud.