The Technical Business Case
In summer of 2015, Frontier’s marketing strategy exceeded expectations; customers were inundating the website in response to weekly email promotions. The rapid increase in demand slowed performance to the point that many customers abandoned sessions, not purchasing tickets due to poor response. Frontier needed a fix – and fast.
In addition, Frontier’s digital content management model required IT intervention to deploy campaigns demanded by marketing. As marketing attempted to respond to short-term industry market conditions, the IT bottleneck prevented any kind of rapid response in terms of time-to-market.
By October 2015, the website reached a critical point; it took up to 25 seconds to load a page. Frontier executives demanded that IT either fix the issues within four weeks or find another job.
Because Frontier’s webfront was .NET-based, Microsoft Azure was a natural candidate for a quick but complete solution. Frontier and Microsoft engaged Lightstream, whose cloud architects assessed the environment, designed an Azure solution, and developed a migration plan, and deployed a test site using multiple Azure PaaS components: the principal components were deployed in App Service Web Apps and Azure SQL Database to house the front-end user interface and back-end database respectively; Azure Traffic Manager was deployed to allow the system to dynamically scale the platform to meet extreme demand during peak times, and Azure CDN was deployed to bring the content closer to the end-user, further driving down webpage load times, especially during traffic spikes and heavy loads.
All of this test environment was deployed within two business days, including a weekend. Frontier’s Q/A team was immediately able to begin testing on the new PaaS environment. The Frontier team worked on optimizing code for the new infrastructure while simultaneously replicating live data into the new SQL platform. Simultaneously, the Lightstream team worked on integrating Umbraco, an open-source content management system, into the PaaS environment and integrating it into the Frontier booking engine. This created a user-friendly interface that allowed marketing, with minimal training to be able to modify key aspects of the site, to go to market with new campaigns almost immediately. Finally, Lightstream architects simultaneously built the production environment to the same specifications so that everything was ready to roll to production as soon as testing completed.