Compagnie des Alpes negotiates a sharp shift towards the cloud


Compagnie des Alpes’ migration to AWS concerns no less than 765 applications currently present in its ski areas or in its leisure parks. (Photo: Clment Delhaye / Unsplash)

To harmonize its information systems deployed in resorts and at its amusement parks, the leisure group is turning to the public cloud. With the ambition, at the same time, of greatly reducing its needs in terms of local computer rooms.

AdvertisingRenovate and harmonize the information systems deployed in resorts and leisure parks. At the head of 8 major ski areas in the French Alps (Les Arcs, Tignes, Val d’Isre, Serre Chevalier) and 12 amusement parks (Parc Astrix, Futuroscope, etc.), Compagnie des Alpes has embarked on a program to modernize its information systems, an initiative based on the AWS cloud. Our move-to-cloud program started with online sales and our e-commerce platforms, says Emmanuel Viennot, CIO and digital manager of this company of more than 4,300 people born in 1989. We have started developments in a cloud-native logic for 3 or 4 years, which has allowed teams to get their hands on these environments.

All the more necessary as the second part of the program is more ambitious. It is quite simply a matter of replacing the legacy applications deployed in resorts, then in leisure parks, and reducing the need for local hosting in order to support these applications. For the activity dedicated to skiing, we have chosen to overhaul all of our client applications: B2C and B2B ticketing, access control, the software used on our cash desks and our machines, etc., explains the DSI. With a clear choice: that of building its own software infrastructure (with the support of Capgemini, for development, and the web agency Coreoz, for UX), to which the hardware deployed in the stations must be connected. And we are also taking over 100% of the stock already in place. “Software shouldn’t lead us to change our hardware,” continues Emmanuel Viennot, one of whose objectives is precisely to break the interdependence between hardware and software, in a world hitherto dominated by specialized publishers who imposed their own machines. Launched in the summer of 2022 Serre-Chevalier, the deployment campaign ends at the end of the 2023 winter season. Even if there is no uniform changeover strategy, tempers the DSI. Because each station had its own solution and was able to choose its own pace of deployment.

The cloud adapted to the seasonality of the activity

Behind this application renovation, the IT manager also has his sights set on consolidating his machine rooms. Previously, each station or park had its own on-premises hosting infrastructure, often spread over two rooms, coupled with a disaster recovery plan. But the levels were quite heterogeneous and the approaches adopted tended to date. Anyway, I no longer wanted to take care of this activity , notes Emmanuel Viennot. The ambition of the Compagnie des Alpes? Migrate all of these server rooms to AWS, even if local environments will remain, such as those supporting video surveillance for which the cloud provides nothing. But all business applications that change little data, and which are subject to load management logic, are destined to join the cloud, notes the DSI. Especially since, by definition, the two activities of the leisure business – skiing and amusement parks – are highly cyclical and can therefore benefit from the upward and downward capacity adjustments that characterize the public cloud.

Emmanuel Viennot, Chief digital and information officer of Compagnie des Alpes.

Despite this observation, Emmanuel Viennot does not include his cloud migration project in a budgetary logic. Above all, it is a question of improving operational safety, he assures us. Especially since, as the DSI recognizes, entering into a logic of comparison to the nearest euro would be difficult, the operating cost of computer rooms distributed in stations or in amusement parks harboring many hidden costs. Furthermore, the gains from the decommissioning of old applications will only be revealed later. For now, our migration project consists of moving all of our 765 listed applications. The optimization of our application base is not the priority, nor is the replatforming of these applications, because many of them come from publishers working on architectural concepts that are now outdated , continues Emmanuel Viennot for whom the move towards modern architectures also makes it possible to support the transformation of the activity of a group which is aiming for half a billion euros in turnover on its e-commerce platforms in 2030.

Continuous deployment facing the logic of the season

The shift to cloud architectures also brings new practices within the IT Department (about 120 people). It’s a new culture for IT of course, but also for business, which used to think in seasons and not change anything during the peak of activity. Which is totally contrary to the CI/CD logic that we have deployed for all of our new developments. On this subject, we were able to reassure the trades in particular via the automation of the tests, explains the DSI. In addition, we know how to be discerning by avoiding massive functional improvements during the peak season.

The next step for the IT department of the leisure group? Accelerate the exploitation of data across all businesses, based on the cloud base. If the subject is already covered by marketing on customer knowledge issues (the group registers around 20 million customers per year), Emmanuel Viennot now wishes to progress in the definition of common KPIs, in the governance of the data , in the construction of a single platform while guaranteeing the autonomy of the businesses in terms of dataviz. The objective is to bring more value to the businesses, by deploying in a cloud logic , summarizes the chief digital and information officer.

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