Lesson 4, Topic 1
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Skyscanner: Hyper-scaling a digital business through a Cloud Native architecture on AWS

digitalscotland July 26, 2021
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Startups like Netflix, Uber and Airbnb ushered in a new era of digital businesses, ventures that scaled to massive levels of global customers and web site traffic.

Of course the Cloud has been the key to achieving this scale, and not just that, but also an entirely new enterprise software architecture to best exploit it: ‘Cloud Native’.

Pioneered by Netflix, this breaks up ‘monolith’ software designs into a network of small ‘microservice’ components, implemented across container technologies like Kubernetes and updated frequently through Continuous Delivery practices.


An exemplar of this approach in Scotland is Skyscanner, a travel-booking service that sees 100 million unique users a month.

AWS offers this case study and this AWS tutorial video, featuring Paul Gillespie from Skyscanner, walks through their architecture.

This provides a short, detailed synopsis of the Cloud Native approach. The building block is Kubernetes, an open-source system for automating deployment, scaling, and management of containerized applications.

Paul walks through their implementation of Kubernetes on AWS, with a view to demonstrating how highly available systems are achieved, for very large-scale traffic web sites like Skyscanner.

What’s the secret to making this reliable at scale? Diversification—multiple Availability Zones, multiple Regions, multiple clusters, and multiple Amazon EC2 instance types.

He highlights that the busy regions of their infrastructure will reach between 60 to 70 thousand queries per second, and explains the architecture they have implemented to handle that level of traffic.