With Fairwinds' managed Kubernetes services, Sparkcentral was able to make the transition to Kubernetes while still delivering on product objectives.
Sparkcentral is a decidedly digital, SaaS-based customer service company. Its mission is to connect businesses with their customers through messaging apps and in the process change the way customer service is delivered around the world. Companies such as Discover, Nordstrom, and Slack partner with Sparkcentral to optimize usage of messaging platforms, and consequently decrease contact center phone calls, eliminate customer service email, and improve the live chat experience and customer satisfaction rates.
Most recently, Sparkcentral introduced its Virtual Agent Framework, which allows the deployment of virtual agents (chatbots) on all chat, social, and messaging channels supported by Sparkcentral’s customer service platform. It also gives live agents the flexibility to delegate simpler tasks to AI-powered virtual agents. This frees live agents up for more complex tasks, while still making digitally-powered service available 24/7 across all communication channels.
As it grew, Sparkcentral identified that it needed a more scalable, flexible way to manage its applications. The company runs more than 30 software applications to create the various services it provides to clients. This requires multiple full-time people and teams of developers. As a customer service company Sparkcentral is prone to variations in volumes and workload depending on the time of day, year, the client, and the products involved. Those 30 applications combined with the speed and scale necessary to deploy them made it a natural candidate for container software and Kubernetes orchestration.
The company had an AMI-based deployment strategy that met their immediate needs, but lacked key capabilities related to deployment efficiencies and autoscaling based on metrics other than CPU. Sparkcentral determined that in order to have the flexibility to meet the demands of their customers and customer growth they'd need the orchestration and management that a system like Kubernetes could provide. Sparkcentral had capable operations experience and skills, but had not yet developed a deep knowledge and experience with Kubernetes to meet their immediate needs, nor did they have the headcount to absorb such a project.
That's why Sparkcentral reached out to Fairwinds, to help bridge this gap and leverage Fairwinds' extensive experience with Kubernetes. The goal: To install Kubernetes, help migrate their applications to Docker and Kubernetes, and manage the Kubernetes infrastructure.
Fairwinds assigned a team of expert Kubernetes engineers to Sparkcentral and kicked off an initial two-week engagement to learn and evaluate Sparkcentral’s workflow and deployment pipeline. Once they scoped the project, the Fairwinds engineers jumped into installing and running Kubernete clusters for Sparkcentral’s Development, QA, and Production workspaces. In just 1.5 months all Kubernetes infrastructure was in place, the strategy to transition applications was defined and the first of the migrated applications were being deployed to production.
Fairwinds worked closely with Sparkcentral engineers to train and to appropriately divide the work for migrating all of Sparkcentral’s applications, leveraging the strength from both teams. As the project completed Fairwinds was there to provide 24/7 support for production Kubernetes, troubleshoot problems, and convey expert advice for Sparkcentral’s continued development.
The Kubernetes infrastructure was setup in the first few weeks of the project and the migration of applications was underway at a rate that Sparkcentral could absorb within their organization. Cloud hosting cost quickly improved as more applications were migrated and Kubernetes orchestration was leveraged. When the Sparkcentral team ran into production problems with some of those applications the Fairwinds team was on the case to help configure and set them up properly. As of June 1, 2019 the migration was 100% completed and Fairwinds continues to be a key part of the team for maintenance and support.
Other key outcomes:
“Fairwinds’ Kubernetes expertise is deep and their engineers are responsive and great to work with. With their help and support we were able to make the transition to Kubernetes while still delivering on product objectives. The improvements in scalability and cost reductions were well worth our investment with Fairwinds.”
Larry Bernstein, CTO