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EB Games and Octopus Deploy

ebgames.com.au

"We use built-in Octopus steps whenever possible to eliminate the need for custom scripts. This allows us to outsource maintenance of deployment scripts and allows us to focus on our job."

- Brendan McGill, Software Development Manager

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Their Story

EB Games Australia is Australia’s largest video game and pop culture retailer, selling interactive games and accessories, pop culture and gaming merchandise. The first Australian store was opened in 1997 and since then has expanded to 370 stores nationwide along with online retail.

EB Games’ store network is complemented by their website where they offer an expansive range of products and value-added pre-owned games to deliver customer satisfaction.

Challenge

EB Games’ modernization journey has been constantly ongoing over many years as they tackle the challenge of scaling and modernizing their ecommerce platform. Prior to discovering Octopus Deploy, the EB Games team manually deployed their web applications by copying files and updating configuration files directly. EB Games has used Octopus Deploy for over 8 years and moved from manual processes to Octopus deploying to Windows Virtual Machines as they started to modernize their processes.

They ran this process happily for many years, primarily using Microsoft technologies to develop and host applications. They built their existing ecommerce platform using Microsoft ASP.NET and over time slowly began the process of teasing apart their monolithic application into smaller microservices and deployed it to Windows Server virtual machines running in AWS to host their websites and databases.

The team then looked to continue their modernernization by containerizing some of the supporting ecommerce services and hosting them in Amazon ECS as they preferred the simplicity of Amazon ECS over Kubernetes. Their team manually configured their clusters with CloudFormation templates, and handcrafted their task definitions and custom scripts to automate their deployments and some maintenance tasks. This approach worked but was time consuming and required ongoing maintenance to maintain the custom scripts. It was also periodically prone to human error.

EB Games recognized the need for a better approach to enable better software delivery for their business. The next step of this modernization journey was shifting to Fargate backed Amazon ECS to further reduce manual handling in their deployment process.

Solution

As long term users of Octopus Deploy, EB Games were already using Octopus to help them automate their deployment and support their cloud-native modernization journey

They were using Octopus as it addressed two major pain points for them:

  1. Eliminated the majority of their custom scripts.
  2. Centralized their variable management (configuration settings) in Octopus so they could transform their configuration files as they deploy through test and production environments.

They had already begun automating their web application deployments to Windows Virtual Machines, and upgraded their Octopus instance in December 2021 and they noticed the new “Deploy to Amazon ECS” automation step which supported Fargate backed ECS clusters. This allowed them to expand to containerized deployments using Octopus’ added native support for deploying to Amazon ECS.

The guided steps for Amazon ECS included everything that was essential to create a task definition and automate containerized application deployments to AWS. What was once a completely manual process with Powershell scripts was now able to be done with no custom scripting required.

The EB Games team created their first Fargate-backed Amazon ECS cluster to take advantage of the built-in support. This allowed them to move away from EC2 backed clusters which required regular maintenance and updates to the associated CloudFormation templates. They also leveraged the built-in automation steps and took advantage of the export feature to customize things further. The team was then able to update the exported CloudFormation template and continued to use the same project variables making the process quick and easy.

Now, EB Games uses a best-in-class CI/CD pipeline that suits their team and needs. They use Atlassian BitBucket for source control, Jetbrains TeamCity for builds and Octopus for deployments to AWS.

EB Games has containerized 4 microservices and each microservice is split into a separate project in Octopus. This gives them more control to deploy their ecommerce monolith and modern services independently and continue to modernize their systems over time. They are in the process of replicating this across their entire ecommerce platform.

Results

Using Octopus Deploy to automate their CI/CD pipeline has been a game changer for the EB Games team. Without Octopus Deploy they would need to use custom scripting and custom configuration. The addition of Octopus has automated their pipeline and made deployments simple and easy to complete. The EB Games team doesn’t have a dedicated build or deployment expert. The responsibility is shared amongst the team as the process is easy to learn and maintain.

Octopus continues to support their journey from legacy to modern by helping them shift from deploying their applications to Windows Virtual Machines to deploying to modern cloud native infrastructure with Amazon ECS. By supporting the right mix of infrastructure Octopus is able to meet their team’s automation needs over time.

The greatest benefit of using Octopus for the EB Games team has been the time saved from manually creating custom scripts and manual configuration. What should have been simple and straightforward was time intensive and required a lot of trial and error. Taking advantage of built-in automation steps and centralizing their configuration variables and secrets management in Octopus has solved this problem.

Using Octopus means EB Games can focus their energy on improving their customers’ ecommerce experience rather than worrying about infrastructure and ensuring deployment processes work. What would have required a full time engineer to manage is now fully automated, allowing the team to focus on what’s most important.

Shout out to @OctopusDeploy for making their software so easy to work with. Just upgraded a 2 year out of date instance and migrated it to a new server and it worked with no effort beyond what their documentation said to do.

Twitter user Alex Dent Alex Dent
@DevOpsDent

We've been overhauling our internal infrastructure and back-end systems over the past month, including a move back to full @OctopusDeploy deployments; rediscovering how nice it is to have a platform-agnostic orchestrator that can deploy practically anything, anywhere ❤

Twitter user Nicholas Blumhardt Nicholas Blumhardt
@nblumhardt

Tools like @OctopusDeploy can be great in enabling culture change, we've been able to scale and improve our configuration story since we started using it.

Twitter user Niel Chalk Niel Chalk
@_neilch