We chatted with Steve Scott, Cloud Infrastructure Manager at Dealer-FX about how they use ParkMyCloud’s automated AWS management to save significant amounts of time and sanity.
Tell us about what Dealer-FX does, and what your team does within the company.
Dealer-FX provides software solutions to dealerships. Our software is used at the service advisor level – the people that you see when you take your car in. They’re usually behind a monitor that you never get to see and they’re typing away all things associated with your car information, VIN, scheduling information, recall information, etc. Our software controls all of that across many different OEMs, which are the manufacturers, and thousands of dealerships across Canada and the US.
I am the manager of cloud operations here and my team is strictly at the cloud management level, fully invested in AWS. We started using AWS through one of the OEMs we work with and that’s how we got into the cloud a few years ago.
Can you describe more about how you’re using AWS?
We use AWS for all of our testing, development, staging, and production environments. We use it all, from the API level to the functional level with virtual servers and virtual environments – everything we have that’s customer facing resides with AWS today.
Before you started using ParkMyCloud, what challenges did you face in your use of AWS?
One of the biggest things is that we use a lot of servers. When we had somewhere around 400 servers, we started to look into scheduling, both for server maintenance and for things that were only required to be online during certain periods of time. There was no inherent AWS service that was easily configurable for the same function that ParkMyCloud offered.
We’ve been using ParkMyCloud for a few years for automated AWS management to schedule resources on and off. Our code is in a period of transition from legacy to more cloud native, so we don’t have the resources to use some of the more cost-effective offerings from AWS like reserved instances, but we’re getting there. ParkMyCloud is certainly helping us, as we rely on it for scheduling server maintenance, staging, testing, and development environments.
How did you find ParkMyCloud?
I was bugging our AWS rep for some type of scheduling functionality. They could do it, but it would have taken a lot of work, and it was kind of iffy whether or not it would work for us. He directed me to ParkMyCloud.
Do you see yourselves using more cost efficient resources like Reserved Instances in the future?
I wouldn’t say that exactly. One thing we will look into is more autoscaling functionality. We do all of that manually, except ParkMyCloud sets up the scheduling and does that beautifully. We currently use ParkMyCloud scheduling because we have a predictable workload. For example, we might have 8 servers online between a certain number of hours, and after a period of time bring it down to 7, then 6, and so on depending on the environment, and then bring them back up again the next day.
In the future, as we build new apps, we’ll still be utilizing ParkMyCloud as we always have. We have RDS functionality on the horizon, which we know we can also schedule with ParkMyCloud’s automated AWS management.
We also use ParkMyCloud for planning on/off times for our staging environments which are on-demand. We haven’t taken advantage of all the features yet, but we use ParkMyCloud for very strategic reasons, in very strategic places, and it works phenomenally.
How would you describe the benefits that Dealer-FX has gotten from ParkMyCloud?
From the sysadmin perspective, the main reason we wanted ParkMyCloud was the sheer ease of turning servers on and off. Before, we needed to wake up at certain times and do it ourselves, manually turning off and on hundreds of servers. Having to do those things is no one’s cup of tea!
Who was responsible for doing that previously?
It was 2-3 people on my team.
It sounds like that took a lot of time.
It was a significant amount of time, and due to the high volume of deployments and growth over time, it became more and more terrible to administrate. ParkMyCloud is saving us time and sanity all over the place, and it just works. We’ve never had an issue with it. The design is ultimately “set it and forget it.”
Any other feedback?
I know there’s lots of things on the horizon that we’ll be using as needed, and I’d be happy to receive updates of new features. Any new tools, extensions, or anything you add I would love to hear about.
We’ll be sharing rightsizing shortly, so look forward to that next! We appreciate your time and feedback.
Sounds great! Thanks!