Cox Automotive – Revamping Infrastructure to Support Business Growth

The Client

Cox Automotive is one of the world’s largest intermediaries in the used automotive marketplace with over $5 billion in revenues. The global company has 33,000 team members in more than 200 locations and is a partner to more than 40,000 auto dealers, as well as most major automobile manufacturers. The Cox Automotive family includes Autotrader®, Dealer.com®, Dealertrack®, Kelley Blue Book®, Manheim®, NextGear Capital®, vAuto®, Xtime® and a host of other automotive brands.

The Challenge

Cox Automotive leverages data accumulated during its long-standing presence throughout the automotive value chain to create uniquely valuable solutions for its customers. Examples include DealShield which mitigates risk for wholesale customers through buyback insurance, Ready Logistics which provides on-demand transport of vehicles from auction to dealer lots, and vAuto which empowers dealers to make smarter buying decisions by providing market intelligence-based guidance on inventory management and pricing.

Proprietary analytical models and custom solutions for optimization, pricing and vehicle evaluation power these offerings and transform Cox Auto’s automotive supply chain intelligence into customer value. The models depend on an underlying analytics technology infrastructure to process transactions related to millions of vehicles that are updated daily to reflect market conditions. The updates are then used by the data science team to plan deployments. These
solutions leverage SAS® Enterprise Miner™, SAS® Office Analytics, SAS/ETS®, SAS/OR®, SAS/IML® and SAS/Access.

The previous infrastructure supporting these solutions was inelastic and not designed for high availability. Additionally, the analytical and transactional applications were tightly coupled. Customer adoption of these products and demand for new and related services had outpaced the infrastructure supporting them which led to escalating costs, Environmental instability, and application inflexibility that placed the dependent businesses at risk, limiting continued
innovation.

The Solution

Based on their successful track record of refactoring and migrating enterprise deployments of SAS-based applications to AWS, SAS referred Cox Auto to CoreCompete. Core Compete designed and deployed a high availability and cost-effective architecture for all SAS components and database infrastructure and migrated the entire infrastructure to AWS, turbocharging the SAS infrastructure while having no impact on operations. Furthermore, all the historical data was migrated using AWS Snowball with continuous replications of the live databases on the cloud. A modernized architecture was designed to augment high availability with elastic load balancing and auto-scaling. The new architecture leverages a range of AWS services such as: EC2, EBS, RDS (Postgres), S3, ELB, and Lambda.

Highlights

  • High availability architecture designed and deployed for all SAS and database infrastructure on AWS (Amazon Web Services)

  • Legacy data for mission-critical operations migrated using AWS Snowball with minimal disruptions to operations

  • Re-architected solution is delivering significant improvements in scalability, throughput, reliability, and flexibility  with reduced infrastructure costs

  • Complete Solution delivered in 12 weeks,

    24/7 availability with zero downtime

Core Compete in Action

Cox Auto engaged Core Compete to first re-architect the solution infrastructure, then migrate it to Amazon Web Services (AWS). Core Compete worked with the Cox Automotive team to come up with new performance SLA’s (Service Level Agreements) and availability criteria for the target architecture. Core Compete, in partnership with AWS and Cox, explored multiple design alternatives to design a highly available, performant and elastic cloud-based solution that provides:

• Real-time transactional API services
• An environment and analytical platform that enables data scientists in ad-hoc analysis and predictive modeling
• Capabilities to execute batch workloads

For Dealshield, Core Compete designed a solution on AWS that separated the analytical environment from the real-time environment. This allowed Cox to have high availability on the mission-critical aspects for a fraction of the cost they were previously facing. For the data science team (that supported Readylogistics, vAuto and Dealshield), Core Compete designed the system to run large batch jobs with high I/O (Input/Output).

The final architecture takes advantage of the inherent scaling architectural patterns provided by AWS and consists of A/B environments that provide active/active environments for Real-time services and active/passive environments for non-real-time services. Core Compete also built a custom monitoring solution for monitoring SAS application components to provide high availability. Additionally, this environment enables a blue/green deployment scheme.

The Result

The project was executed in just 12 weeks giving Cox Automotive a platform that not only addresses operational needs, but also provides a sandbox for rapid business experimentation and analytical innovation. Cox Automotive is now on Core Compete’s Agile Analytics managed service, offering 24×7 support for mission-critical infrastructure along with, on-going solution and infrastructure enhancements.

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