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Every spring, millions of people across the United States use software from TurboTax to file their taxes. As a result, TurboTax owner Intuit needs to scale the product for several months each year so that it continues to function properly even in peak times, like April evenings when people file taxes after work.
About a year and a half ago, Intuit decided to start building TurboTax to run on Kubernetes, a popular open source cloud computing project that began at Google.
Kubernetes helps manage containers, which are used to package up code to allow developers to easily run applications exactly the same way whether the they’re hosted in a private data center, the cloud, or even a personal laptop. Containers allow large-scale applications like TurboTax to run across all different platforms, use computing resources more efficiently, and roll out new product updates faster.
Since fully rolling out Kubernetes for TurboTax, Intuit is saving 20-to-30% compared to what it previously spent to run the software on an Amazon product, estimates vice president of product development Pratik Wadher. But even more importantly, Kubernetes has saved the company time, he said.
Before, Intuit engineers needed to spend a large amount of time updating TurboTax’s code for each new release. Now, those updates happen automatically “like clockwork,” Wadher says. Intuit previously released new code for TurboTax every two to three months, but it now releases updates on a weekly basis, rolling them out to customers within minutes.
“We’re seeing huge benefits from a developer standpoint, availability standpoint, management and operational standpoint,” Wadher told Business Insider.
Why Intuit decided to use Kubernetes
Intuit has been working on moving to the cloud — specifically Amazon Web Services — for the past six years. In August, Intuit closed its last data center, so its products and services now run fully on AWS.
Because of its relationship with AWS, Intuit used Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2), AWS’s product for managing virtual servers. However, TurboTax faced some scaling challenges with EC2, Wadher says.
Read more: Everything you need to know about Kubernetes, the Google-created open source software so popular even Microsoft and Amazon had to adopt it
EC2 did not make it easy for Intuit to automatically scale its usage up or down depending on traffic to TurboTax, Wadher said, so Intuit decided to switch to Kubernetes. The firm still uses EC2, although on a lesser basis now, he added. The migration process began in May 2019, in order to ready for tax season in March and April 2020.
Wadher himself was particularly suited to help lead Intuit in building out Kubernetes because he founded a startup called Applatix, which had been building a platform based on Kubernetes to allow companies to quickly move to the cloud, which Intuit acquired in 2018.
To help with the transition from EC2 to Kubernetes, Intuit also developed its own tools and add-ons, but the process was relatively smooth, according to Wadher.
“We had to do work to make it more transparent and smooth from an operational standpoint, but …read more
Source:: Business Insider