TIFF is dedicated to presenting the best of international and Canadian cinema to film lovers. While TIFF now runs programming 365 days a year, it is the September flagship event that is one of the world’s most important publicly attended film festivals.
TIFF has been steadily moving their back office applications to the cloud but had not yet moved the company’s high profile website that caters to a global audience and manages festival ticket sales and program information. “Even though we run programming year-round, we have an enormous ramp up for the festival and then we ramp down to normal levels throughout the rest of the year. During peak season, we rival some of the largest e-commerce sites at holiday time as visitors from around the world come to our site looking for film schedules and tickets,” said Sean Barry, Director, Information Technology at TIFF.
Well ahead of the festival, the website was experiencing significant scalability issues – even during low traffic periods. Barry was keen to move the site to a stable environment, “we were rapidly approaching our TIFF Kids Festival and we knew if we remained with the old hosting provider, we would run into more problems.”
Under pressure to solve the website performance issues, TIFF and Scalar embarked on an aggressive migration plan to move the site over to AWS. However, after architecting a solution, they realized there were a number of challenges with the first design, and it was necessary to switch directions. Working against a very tight deadline, Scalar and the TIFF developer rapidly built the site architecture and design. Barry comments, “Scalar were fantastic in helping us do this in a compressed timeframe.”
The actual development was very fast-paced and executed with extreme fidelity. “That is the great thing about working in the cloud – we can pivot quickly – if one design does not work, you can change rapidly as opposed to situations where you are procuring hardware,” said Ken Wong, Cloud Solution Specialist at Scalar.
Scalar were fantastic in helping us do this in a compressed timeframe.
Heading into festival season, the site is well positioned to handle the inevitable traffic spikes that will come. Barry mentions, “TIFF is a charity and operates on a strict budget. Any dollar I can save or take out of our IT expenditures while still providing the same or better service, is more money towards the great programs and services we offer.”. Cloud computing means that TIFF no longer must buy equipment, rack servers and test for weeks in advance prior to the festival – equipment that was needed only for a short time period every year and then sat idle. These cloud inherent benefits help organizations like TIFF reign in their costs. Cloud technology also gives the IT team the tools to better support the business, letting them more rapidly launch services and provide the development team a testing environment at minimal cost.
With the website migration to AWS behind them, TIFF is kicking off a review with Scalar of the remaining line of business applications that are still in a legacy state. The Scalar team will assist in mapping out the migration plan, associated costs and long-term cost savings. “Scalar are vendor agnostic and preach best of breed. They would rather work with me on selling their expertise rather than a particular service, which is comforting,” concludes Barry.