Windocks helps Drivetime revolutionize used car purchases and financing

Drivetime

Challenges

Drivetime is a 4,000 employee car purchase and financing company. Part of Drivetime's competitive advantage is technology that delivers a stress-free used car purchase experience for the customer. This includes the ability to continuously deliver different functionality, updates, new features for financing, searching and purchasing cars. Constantly changing inventory data, purchase options and critical credit data meant that data was integral to software release quality and timeliness. Their challenges were:

  • How to continuously deliver high quality software releases to online users that include varied features such as car search, loan approvals, dealership search
  • How to make production data residing in proprietary storage easily available for modern devops pipelines
  • Ensuring compliance with financial data security requirements


Requirement

Drivetime required a database orchestration system that would orchestrate multiple services such as proprietary storage services (Actifio), security, and containers to deliver large SQL Server databases on demand to event driven continuous integration / deployment (CI/CD) devops pipelines. Further, this delivered data needed to be available easily to applications running in Kubernetes clusters.



Evaluating solutions and selecting Windocks

While evaluating solutions, Drivetime found that Windocks offered three unique capabiities:

  • SQL Server container service for Windows Windocks offered the only SQL Server container service for Windows. Containers were important to Drivetime because their CI/CD pipelines required dev, test and staging environments to be delivered and torn down quickly. Pipelines were already deploying applications using containers and it was natural to need containers for the data as well. Since Drivetime was using Active Directory security and had its production data on SQL Server Windows, they naturally selected Windocks for the database orchestration solution because it included SQL Server Windows containers
  • Managing data, not infrastructure - Windocks database orchestration offered Drivetime the ability to orchestrate any type of proprietary storage and volume cloning technology by abstracting infrastructure. Devops and database engineers did not need to write or manage code for proprietary infrastructure to get data. This was to prove critical to Drivetime since they were able to change their storage solution from Cohesity to Actifio easily since Windocks abstracted all infrastructure and allowed Drivetime to focus on managing data. Drivetime team members had to merely provide a changed config spec in the form of a dockerfile and the Windocks database orchestration system automatically changed to use Drivetime's new storage infrastructure.
  • Open, standards based technology - Windocks includes a data cloning service based on standard operating system file systems, a container service based on standard container technology / API from Docker Inc, Kubernetes support, and security for containers based on standard Active Directory. While Drivetime did not use the standard cloning technology from Windocks, they were able to use SQL Server containers with data cloned from proprietary storage via a docker based API and Kubernetes deployments. This standards based approach provided Drivetime flexibility on changing storage vendors and removed the need to write and manage proprietary infrastructure code


Benefits to the Drivetime technology team

These unique capabilities described above delivered powerful benefits to the Drivetime technology team, enabling them to deliver success quickly

  • Ease of deployment Within 4 weeks, Drivetime was able to successfully deploy Windocks database orchestration and SQL Server containers working with cloned data from a proprietary volume cloning system and delivered a successful proof of concept
  • Flexibility in storage When Drivetime made the decision to switch storage providers from Cohesity to Actifio, the Windocks orchestration system abstracted that change from the devops and database teams
  • Fitting into Kubernetes Drivetime's applications running in Kubernetes were easily able to receive data cloned from Actifio using Windocks database orchestration, Windocks SQL Server containers and the Windocks Kubernetes service via Kubernetes DNS
  • Ease of maintenance Over time, the Drivetime team discovered that they had minimal maintenance work because of the "no code required" capabilities of Windocks. Changes to data requirements merely had to be provided in the form of a spec (dockerfile). The Windocks orchestration service automatically delivers based on the changed spec (dockerfile)


What does the deployed database orchestration solution look like

The successful rollout of the Windocks database orchestration service above all has fitted in easily into the existing continuous integration / deployment pipelines and systems that deliver data to Kubernetes applications, test and reporting teams. The solution includes the following components:

  • Database orchestration service - This is the overall Windocks database orchestration services that uses a spec to orchestrate the Actifio data cloning service, the Windocks SQL Server container service and the Windocks Kubernetes service to continuously deliver data on demand
  • Actifio volume cloning - Windocks orchestration uses Actifio volume cloning service to deliver production data clones
  • Container service - Windocks SQL Server container service for Windows is used to stand up SQL Server environments running on different ports all on a single machine. These SQL Server containers use Active Directory authentication. Windocks database orchestration also supports Linux docker container services for SQL Server, Oracle, MySQL, PostGre, though these are not being used currently at Drivetime.
  • Windocks Kubernetes service - Windocks Kubernetes service allows applications running in Kubernetes to access production data clones in SQL Server containers via Kubernetes domain name service (DNS)


Benefits to the Drivetime business

The deployment of modern database orchestration that orchestrates both proprietary storage services as well as modern cloud native container services for devops has resulted in Drivetime being able to continuously deliver technology improvements and data to its end-users helping with a smooth and stress free used car purchase experience. These improvements were accompanied by better compliance with financial data security regulations.

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