AWS

Welcome to the Ocado Technology Webinars, where you can hear from the people building the ground-breaking, game-changing technology that powers Ocado, the world’s largest online-only grocery retailer.

In this webinar Javi Carretero, mobile web services team leader at Ocado Technology, offers an overview of AWS Lambda and serverless computing, including a code demonstration showing how easy it is to get started with cloud-based web services.

Key takeaways

  • Serverless architectures are a hot topic in the cloud computing space
  • Before building a new application or service in AWS, ask yourself what influences your production environment
  • There are many considerations that define a production environment, but perhaps the most important ones are performance, security, availability and the deployment strategy
  • Serverless architectures attempt to automatically solve the cost issues affecting traditional provisioning by offloading the task of container lifecycle management to the service provider
  • Because serverless architectures are entirely managed by service providers, developers should not make assumptions about the state of a container before a function is executed
  • Serverless architectures offer developers many advantages, including fully managed scaling, almost-zero system administration, and the ability to focus mainly on function code
  • Developers also need to be aware that serverless architectures are a new concept and therefore there are several potential drawbacks related to maturity and start-up latency


00:46: An overview of the factors deciding the structure of your AWS production environment.

02:41: Traditional provisioning that scales up and down according to throughput can easily be affected by inefficient allocation of resources.

04:05: Serverless architectures can be seen as a FaaS (Function as a Service).

05:01: In serverless architectures, developers don’t have to worry about provisioning; the containers are fully managed by the service provider.

05:34: Serverless containers might not run 24/7: the service provider can choose to shut them down or start new ones automatically as events are flowing through.

06:00: Serverless containers are alsoephemeral: developers don’t have a guarantee that the function will always run on the same container.

06:24: The provisioning profile of a serverless architecture.

07:00: A coding example showing how developers can create a function in AWS; the utilities available for working with functions; testing within the console; and creating a production application using AWS Lambda.

07:35: How to create and configure an AWS Lambda function.

13:05: An overview of two AWS Lambda example functions that can be used for e-commerce purposes e.g. generating analytics based on customer checkouts.

20:35: Running the checkout stream application and observing the data flow for the example functions.

24:53: Covering the advantages and disadvantages of using serverless architectures for cloud computing, including scaling capabilities, administration costs, stateless services, and startup latencies. (Note: When it comes to the startup latency, our initial testing revealed AWS Lambda cold starts can be compared to EC2 scaling. Since Amazon keeps warm containers ready, this should not have a big impact on your application).

28:20: Final thoughts on AWS Lambda.

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April 27th, 2017

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Children playing Rapid Router

Welcome to the Ocado Technology Webinars, where you can hear from the people building the ground-breaking, game-changing technology that powers Ocado, the world’s largest online-only grocery retailer.

In this webinar Celine Boudier, Code for Life team leader, talks about how a group of volunteers at Ocado Technology are creating an educational platform to inspire the next generation of technologists.

 

Key Takeaways

 

  • Education is one of the four core values of the Ocado Group, alongside promoting entrepreneurship, protecting the environment, and encouraging people to eat well
  • Teaching children to program is not just about nurturing future software engineers but also providing everyone with a meta-skill that has a transformative potential in our increasingly digital world
  • Many educators find teaching their students the basic skills and thinking required for programming much more difficult than explaining the syntax of a programming language
  • Rapid Router is an educational game from Code for Life that focuses on developing the logical thinking skills required for programming in primary school children
  • The Rapid Router package includes many other resources for teachers looking to teach computing, including full lessons plans, code examples, classroom activities and more

 

0:15: Code for Life is an initiative aiming to address the challenges faced by educators teaching computing in primary schools

1:12: The project is mostly volunteer-based but also includes a robust full-time team made up of software interns and a UX expert from Ocado Technology

1:34: Understanding the fundamentals of programming is a life skill for many children growing up in an increasingly online world

3:30: Code for Life has been designed to help teachers help students interested in computing

4:40: Rapid Router is the first educational game created by Code for Life, teaching algorithms and computing skills through Blockly and Python

6:13: How Rapid Router helps children migrate progressively from Blockly to Python

6:44: Alongside the actual game, teachers have access to a portal where they can create virtual classrooms and register new students

7:05: The design of the Code for Life portal and Rapid Router game is based on different teacher personas created after extensive user research and interviews

9:30: Code for Life also focuses on bridging the gap between gaining basic computing skills and being competent at programming

10:25: The next big educational game from Code for Life will target secondary schools and will teach the basics of AI and Python

11:12: The Code for Life team is also working on creating a mobile app version of Rapid Router using C# and the Unity game engine, and translating the games into other languages

12:24: An overview of the technology stack currently in use for Rapid Router and future games

14:00: Ways to learn more and contribute to the project, including our GitHub profiles for Code for Life, Rapid Router and our upcoming AI game, social media channels (Twitter, Facebook) and translation website.

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March 22nd, 2017

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Alex Howard Whitaker

Welcome to the Ocado Technology Webinars, where you can hear from the people building the ground-breaking, game-changing technology that powers Ocado, the world’s largest online-only grocery retailer.

In this webinar Alex Howard Whitaker, cloud services engineer at Ocado Technology, talks about the challenges and opportunities involved in adopting a cloud-first strategy using Amazon AWS.

Key Takeaways

  • When Ocado Technology decided to adopt a public cloud solution, the main challenges revolved around automation, security and microservices deployment
  • Ocado Technology used an Agile approach to cloud adoption
  • Constantly building for failure helped mitigate security and performance issues
  • The cloud adoptions strategy was shaped by a set of well-defined best practices and guidelines
  • The growing list of technology stacks made it clear that a managed services-focused platform provided the best solution for the team’s specific needs
  • Creating an environment where the cloud infrastructure and cloud development teams worked together ultimately improved the overall platform and the tools around it
  • Ocado adopted Amazon AWS for operational services and the Google Cloud Platform for data analytical services
  • Having a separate AWS configuration for each customer made data segregation easier to manage
  • APIs are a great way to implement access control for applications

00:46: Starting from scratch means there are many choices and there is no right or wrong answer

01:08: Ocado Technology wanted to use AWS for existing systems and had to take an Agile approach to its implementation

01:39: Adopting a public cloud solution brought questions around security and performance

02:28: The development team looked at various cloud success stories, including Netflix

02:49: In order to ensure consistent adoption, the cloud teams created a set of best practices and guidelines

03:36: Ocado chose to use managed services offered by a service provider wherever possible to accelerate development without any downtime

04:08: The systems created to manage the cloud were also hosted in exactly the same way as the cloud applications themselves

04:34: The cloud teams evaluated both AWS and GCP and found the former better suited for front-end, operational services while the latter more focused on back-end, data analytical systems

06:08: Amazon AWS provides a myriad of services and there was a lot to learn about their individual characteristics

06:28: The first AWS implementation was relatively simple and straightforward

06:59: The second attempt joined the network hub account with a VPN back end

07:50: The third configuration aimed to decentralize various end points to improve access speed

08:44: The cloud team learned a lot from deploying live applications into the AWS configurations, particularly around data segregation, service limits and throttling

11:53: In the fourth version of the AWS implementation, the Ocado Technology team used the information gained from live deployment to create a more flexible configuration that could scale easily

12:19: The new architecture was based on microservices that used APIs to ensure abstraction of resources

13:00: Using access control and tagging to create better permissions for AWS applications

15:40: The architecture of our deployment process included an app registry, cloud provisioning, AMI build automation, cloud formation scripts and more

17:25: Using AWS Elastic Beanstalk, Ocado Technology deployed 250+ applications over a choice of stacks (Java, Python, NodeJS) and servers

17:52: Concluding remarks

More about our webinars

You can keep up to date with the webinars by subscribing to our YouTube channel. This article provides clickable links that take you directly to the highlighted part of the video clip.

January 9th, 2017

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