Success Stories — Multiplex with Colobridge

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Country
Ukraine
Business
cinema chain
Product
29 cinemas in 17 cities across the country
In addition to cloud virtual infrastructure resources, Multiplex cinema chain uses private cloud resources deployed on rented physical servers (as part of Dedicated service) and a cloud firewall and its own router (as part of Colocation service) on Colobridge platform.

Colobridge products and services used:

Background
Multiplex cinema chain started considering moving some of its services to a cloud back in 2015. At that point in time, the company selected a cloud services provider that had data centers in Ukraine, with which povider a pilot online ticket sales project was launched for one cinema. At that time, Multiplex cinema chain included 15 cinemas in 11 cities across Ukraine. In each of them, there was a system administrator who made sure that ticketing system functioned effectively.
Why was it necessary to move some services to a cloud?
  • The company was experiencing rapid growth and considered cloud to be a tool for implementing a new IT strategy. Obsolete approaches to the scaling and managing IT infrastructure did not meet the requirements set by business, nor were services digitalized enough.
  • In order to continue to operate under the modalities in place, i.e. to have servers in each cinema of the cinema chain which was rapidly growing, it was necessary to purchase a lot of expensive equipment. It would entail large capital investments and regular expenditures for maintenance and amortization. It would also be necessary to find and recruit qualified system administrators to work in branches, which would inevitabely lead to increased expenditures on paying them salaries.
  • Given that the cinema chain was expanding, it was necessary to introduce a centralized approach to selling tickets online, as well as tools for rapid response to spikes in demand (for example, before big premieres wewre to be released) and making such forecasts in the future.
  • It was risky to locate a physical server on cinema premises as its functioning depends on the mall's engineering systems. If the server crashes or the Internet connection is interrupted, purchasing tickets online is inaccessible and customers cannot buy or return tickets purchased online or via mobile application.
Challenge
The scheduled introduction of new software in the cloud turned out to be successful, which was especially noticeable against the background of active cinema chain expansion. While more and more cinemas appeared, it was necessary to increase the capacities, which could be done almost instantly in the cloud.
Over the next three months, Multiplex cinema chain migrated its remaining cinema servers to the cloud, but it soon encountered serious technical problems that caused it to refuse the services of the selected provider. Based on the findings of a comparative analysis of several service providers undertaken, Colobridge was selected to continue operating the services already launched in the cloud on its platform, to provide guaranteed high-quality services and new products that would enable a more flexible response to changes in demand.
Tasks
Multiplex cinema chain decided to stop using physical servers in 2015 not just because it was trendy. We planned to become far more advanced in terms of technology and promptly respond to our customers' changing demands. Our goal was to move to a flexible, easily scalable IT infrastructure which could be managed through a single interface. This time we decided to achieve our goal with the new platform provided by Colobridge.
Denys Moskovchenko,
IT Director at Multiplex
The challenges addressed by migrating to the new cloud on technology platform by Colobridge:
  • Continuing to use virtual resources to run online ticketing service;
  • using additional services to improve digital security and resilience of the services provided;
  • developing digital sales channels and continuing to develop a mobile app;
  • obtaining guaranteed high-quality and responsive technical support that promptly addresses issues arising;
  • implementing the seats availability feature in cinemas and making sure one ticket will only be purchased once, not fearing that something might go wrong;
  • Optimizing IT infrastructure maintenance costs given the rapid growth of the cinema chain.

Implementation

Migrating online ticketing and other services to Colobridge platform
In two weeks in the fall of 2017, Multiplex cinema chain services were migrated to a new cloud which Colobridge staff members prepared for virtual machine operation.
  • Специалисты Colobridge оказали экспертную помощь и помогли обеспечить отказоустойчивость на уровне приложения БД — был построен отказоустойчивый кластер на двух dedicated-серверах.
  • Virtual machines migrated during the night hours - between the time when the last movies were over and when the cinema opened in the morning. Every day, from around 2:00 am to 9:00 am, two technicians migrated two or three virtual machines or one major service.
  • The scope of virtual resources was estimated based on the load chart created as per Multiplex services.
  • Помимо непосредственно облака Multiplex начала использовать другие продукты для повышения отказоустойчивости, стабильности и гибкости работы — Colocation, Dedicated Server, FWaaS (Firewall as a Service), Gateway on colocation.
After moving the ticketing service to the cloud, the IT department has repeatedly implemented and tested various solutions to select the one that best meets the business goals. Initially, Docker Swarm was used in development for orchestration of containers, now Kubernetes was used, since the capabilities of the former no longer fit the company's requirements. Kubernetes works with virtual networks, supports more networking solutions and such important option as autoscaling.
Outcomes
It's easy to improve when you know our partner Colobridge is there to help.
Denys Moskovchenko,
IT Director at Multiplex

Migrating online ticketing system to Colobridge technology platform created favorable conditions for further digitalization of services, as well as expanding this system to new cinemas that were opening across the country. Today, the cinema network is scaling quickly and efficiently with no need to invest in redundant hardware resources "just in case".

Centralized management of IT infrastructure at Colobridge capacities provides important metrics and forecasts for "high seasons." Multiplex started responding effectively not only to seasonal trends, but also to blockbuster releases because of which the box office workload was manyfold increased. For example, in 2021, the server load increased sixfold after pre-sale tickets for the movies "Spider-Man: No Way Home" and "Dune" became available. As many as 3,500 users were loading the site's page at a time, and the app servers were handling up to 11.5 million requests each day.

Numbers:
  • the ticketing service is 99.95% available
  • Up to 3500 simultaneous visitors on the website
  • Up to 11.5 million requests per day
  • +60% online sales since 2018
  • > 2 million downloads on Google Play/AppStore.
Current architecture:
The cloud has opened up new opportunities for digitalizing all processes that involve interaction with our viewers. We have avoided the risks associated with placing servers directly in cinemas, moved away from the decentralized model of selling tickets, and made IT infrastructure more reliable. The financial benefits are also there: we optimized system administrators and no longer purchase extra resources as it used to be the case with physical servers. Now we can get exactly as much resources as we need at any time depending on the workload.
The company no longer owns IT infrastructure in the traditional sense, but we get a clear and transparent service with the quality of service fixed in the SLA instead. In addition to data availability guarantees, Colobridge provided us with a set of complementary products that help us enhance our viewers' digital experience. We have achieved the desired fault tolerance by rebuilding database architecture, and we have no doubt whatsoever that technical support will respond to our requests in a speedy manner.
Denys Moskovchenko,
IT Director at Multiplex
Current situation
Multiplex's IT infrastructure is continually evolving and improving. Technicians continue enhancing the website and mobile app, they are adding new features and making them more user-friendly.
In the time that Multiplex Cinema Chain had its IT infrastructure hosted in Colobridge cloud, the share of online sales has increased:
How the number of guests changed:
Multiplex technical team was the first one in Ukrainian market to develop mobile application to enable purchasing tickets and placed it in Apple AppStore and Google Play. Multiplex was the first to enable paying via ApplePay/GooglePay as well as storing purchased tickets in Apple Wallet and Google Wallet.
Working under emergency conditions: the pandemic and the war in Ukraine
Since Multiplex Cinema Chain moved its IT infrastructure to the cloud, it has faced two very serious challenges. The first was the pandemic that began in March 2020 - the cinemas were closed during the lockdown, but after the restrictions were lifted, the number of visitors grew quite quickly as viewers eagerly went to watch blockbusters. The second test was the war which caused the chain of cinemas to suspend its operations. Yet since mid-March 2022 cinemas in Lviv, Odesa, Lutsk and Khmelnytskyi started operating again, and Kyiv followed a bit later. Multiplex reduced ticket prices, canceled late movies and drew up standard operating procedures in case the air-raid alarm starts during the session. It was important for the regular movie-goers to go to the cinemas again - to bring at least something positive and habitual from the peaceful past back to their lives, to enjoy something that goes beyond the bare necessities. Multiplex tried to meet this demand as much as possible.

We had a chance to evaluate how Colobridge experts work in the time of upheavals, when there were active hostilities on the territory of Ukraine. We were able to contact the engineer on duty on a day off - he responded and started solving the problem in just 15 minutes, which meets pre-war indicators and is much less than the guaranteed response time from the SLA (as agreed, we could absolutely legally wait for a response much longer).

The issue then was that our customers could not complete their online purchase because there was an error at the payment stage. The product code had not been changed in the couple of days before, so the most probable cause was a problem with the infrastructure or OS of the virtual machine. Then we decided to restore the virtual machine to a working version and that's why we approached Colobridge. We received the event log of the virtual machine and found out that the problem occurred after OS updates were installed - it was at this stage that the ticketing service was unavailable. As we anticipated, rolling back the virtual machine helped fix the situation and online sales worked again.

Denys Moskovchenko,
IT Director at Multiplex
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