John Holland

Versent delivers John Holland out of the data centre and into AWS in record time

The Need

Infrastructure and property company John Holland made a strategic decision in 2017 to move onto Amazon Web Services (AWS), in order to make its ICT spend more efficient and move out of its on-premises data centre.

Once the decision was made to move to the cloud, John Holland set a rigorous schedule of seven months for the project and turned to local Amazon Web Services (AWS) partner, Versent, who were up for the challenge of tackling the aggressive timeframe.


Versent began by performing a Yellow BrickRoad (YBR) assessment: working closely with John Holland to discover and analyse the best approach for moving to, and utilising AWS services.

This cloud assessment also contained a sequence plan for implementing Versent’s Enterprise Native Cloud platform in Amazon Web Services (AWS) and design patterns for deploying John Holland’s workloads to AWS.

Despite the tight timeframe, rather than simply ‘lifting and shifting’ all workloads into AWS, a plan was devised where key foundational platforms and critical business applications (approx. 50% of all workloads) would be re-built from the ground up, leveraging the benefits of cloud native automation and resiliency improvements.

The remaining assets were earmarked for a rapid ‘lift and shift’ migration approach. This approach reused the intellectual property (IP), engineering and automated processes Versent had developed for previous projects.

“Versent has built a reputation on our ability to automate. If we do something once, why can’t we use it again? We’ve built a lot of knowledge about how to move things into the cloud – you can’t just press a button and have everything jump into Amazon and be perfect, but there’s a lot of ways to make it a lot faster and more efficient and that’s what we have done with John Holland,” said Micah Smith, General Manager, Migrations, Versent.


Once rapidly migrated workloads were in AWS, Versent worked closely with the John Holland team to put in place workload schedules to optimise the usage and cost of the shifted workloads.

The project—which was wrapped up on time and ahead of budget in June 2018—represents another successful migration project for Versent.

In just seven months, Versent and JohnHolland migrated over 200 workloads in AWS, decommissioned over 100 legacy systems and dramatically increased staff agility and enablement.

“Delivering a project of this magnitude doesn’t come without its (daily) challenges, and to do it ahead of schedule, under budget is a phenomenal result,” said Chris Walsh, CIO, John Holland.


The Versent Managed Services team became an extension of the Cloud Operations infrastructure team at John Holland providing operational experience and education to guide the team through their cloud journey.

Versent is focused on growing its cloud migration business with a new business practice being led by industry veteran, Micah Smith who is leveraging Versent’s re-usable patterns and IP, that has formed the platform for Versent’s business growth to date.

“Enterprise customers with datacentre moves or major infrastructure investment requirements can be rapidly migrated in weeks and months, allowing our customers to take a longer view for digital transformation. We never leave any workloads or data behind – and we are really focusing on accelerating the migration of both modern applications and “hard to dislodge” legacy applications,” said James Coxon, Co-Founder & CTO, Versent.

Lia Taylor, CTO, John Holland added, “Our agility to go to market and being able to quickly and seamlessly change and improve the way we deliver services to the John Holland business has been an outstanding result.”

“It was amazing to be part of such a successful project. The combination of a pragmatic delivery approach, engaged and involved executive sponsorship, and a united and focused joint John Holland and Versent team, made all the difference,” said Brendan Carr, Head of Delivery at Versent.

John Holland and Versent continue to work together on increasing automation and reducing running costs.‍


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