Custom DevOps Implementation for TruckTrax to Support Flagship Application

AIM Consulting

Case Study: Cloud and Operations

SITUATION & BUSINESS CHALLENGE

TruckTrax, a subsidiary of CalPortland Company, Inc headquartered in Bellevue, Washington, provides software to coordinate, track and process the delivery of bulk construction materials across the western U.S. and Canada. Their application suite, which is leveraged by CalPortland and leased to other construction material supply companies, includes GeoTrax—an Android-based fleet management application with GPS tracking, ticketing and messaging features—and ClearView—a dispatch, order fulfillment, and billing system.

GeoTrax is used by truck drivers on the road as well as by dispatchers at company offices to track the location and delivery status of shipments. However, as more telemetry data was captured and stored, the application began to experience processing issues. Wanting to continue offering new and exciting cutting-edge features, TruckTrax decided to rewrite the application so it could handle data consumption better and also be easier to upgrade, maintain, and scale.

To support the effort, TruckTrax decided to implement CI/CD and DevOps and leaned on several IT staffing and consulting organizations for development resources to augment their internal teams for the initiative. However, DevOps implementations can be tricky, and the effort faltered as outside resources left the project. With no documentation and only one relatively inexperienced DevOps lead in place, the dev environment was down on an almost daily basis.

TruckTrax recognized that it needed a local consulting firm with deep knowledge and tactical experience in DevOps transformations to conduct an assessment and provide a holistic strategy to stabilize the dev environment and get the project back on track. The organization went in search of a new partner and found this expertise in AIM Consulting.

SOLUTION

A senior systems consultant from AIM Consulting’s DevOps practice performed an assessment of TruckTrax’s DevOps organization, interviewing business leaders and team leads to understand the DevOps environment and state of operations.

Components of the environment supporting the DevOps transformation included:

Cloud infrastructureAWS
CI/CD pipelineJenkins
Containerization for microservicesKubernetes
Bugs and issue trackingJira
ProvisioningTerraform
RepositoryGitLab
MonitoringNew Relic

The assessment confirmed that there were numerous positives with the DevOps set-up:

  • Most components and individual environments were set up properly and running well, including AWS, Jenkins, monitoring, branching structure and testing criteria.
  • Teams were committed to success, aware of the primary issues, and amenable to mitigation of the issues as efficiently as possible going forward.
  • Communication within and between the teams was solid and flowed easily.

The consultant then compiled a list of recommendations for how to stabilize the environment and improve the DevOps infrastructure. These included:

  • Backup and restore services
  • Amazon Elastic Container Service for Kubernetes (Amazon EKS), which would massively reduce the manual workload for the DevOps team
  • Migrating from Jira to the broader toolset of Microsoft Team Foundation Server
  • Implementing Crossbar, an open-source networking platform, for microservice applications
  • Evangelizing DevOps best practices more with leadership and throughout the organization.

After witnessing the level of knowledge and expertise that AIM brought to the assessment, TruckTrax engaged AIM to lead the project.

AIM created an implementation roadmap with sprint timelines and stabilized the DevOps infrastructure within two months. AIM also hosted brown bag sessions and deeper technology dives to train and coach all workers in their respective environments while working side-by-side with the team to demonstrate DevOps principles.

“We have a strong relationship with AIM Consulting and it has been a true pleasure working with them. They are industry experts in DevOps and bring a wealth of experience to the table. AIM earned our trust by taking leadership of our DevOps practice and getting our environments to work together seamlessly. Stability is measurably better. We now understand how our system works and why it behaves in certain ways, and we have a great path for growth moving forward. AIM helped lay out the strategy for how we could continue to mature, save costs and manage time in the DevOps arena better. We have a strong base in DevOps because of AIM.”

— Josh Hamblen, Enterprise Architect and Development Manager, TruckTrax

Results

The resulting stability from engaging AIM to assess and mature its DevOps and CI/CD infrastructure has enabled TruckTrax to introduce:

  • Automated merge request builds
  • Automated test leads from the QA team into the CI/CD pipeline to run during merge
  • Streamlined ability to push code from development to test to production

While the path from development to deployment was not entirely hands-off by the end of the engagement period, the changes put it on the path to becoming so. And with the environment fully documented, AIM was able to transition off the project, but not before staffing a fully trained, experienced DevOps engineer full-time to continue the operation.

Ultimately, AIM’s leadership turned a stalled project into a thriving DevOps culture. All environments are mature, stable and working well together, with stoppages now a rarity.  As daily fire drills subsided, the teams were able to complete two major feature releases of GeoTrax, written on a modern, scalable and more maintainable code base.

AIM Consulting earned the trust of TruckTrax by providing expertise, team leadership, and strong resources to strengthen its DevOps practice.

“We have a strong relationship with AIM Consulting and it has been a true pleasure working with them. They are industry experts in DevOps and bring a wealth of experience to the table. AIM earned our trust by taking leadership of our DevOps practice and getting our environments to work together seamlessly. Stability is measurably better. We now understand how our system works and why it behaves in certain ways, and we have a great path for growth moving forward. AIM helped lay out the strategy for how we could continue to mature, save costs and manage time in the DevOps arena better. We have a strong base in DevOps because of AIM.”

— Josh Hamblen, Enterprise Architect and Development Manager, TruckTrax

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