Anne Currie

Anne Currie

Our Kubernetes Training for Booking.com - Case Study

February 11, 2019 by Anne Currie

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At Container Solutions (CS), we are not a bog standard consultancy. Unusually, our aim is to help our clients become independent as quickly as possible. We believe you will not get full (or even, arguably, much) benefit from your Cloud Native transformation if you don’t become experts yourselves. We’re here to get that process started on the right track.

A key part of what we provide is training. Once CS have worked with our clients to understand which tools and techniques are right for them, we then cooperate to create a training programme tailored precisely to their needs. Some teams may already be expert in some aspects of their new tech. If so, there is no point in needlessly training the engineers again in those areas. It’s expensive and boring. However, there will always be gaps -- sometimes huge ones. We aim to work together to find and fill them.

An excellent example of this process is our highly successful training programme for Booking.com.

Booking.com

Booking.com has grown from a small start-up in 1996 to one of the world’s largest e-commerce travel companies. It now employs more than 17,000 people in 198 offices in 70 countries worldwide. The Booking.com website and mobile apps are available in over 40 languages, offer over 29 million listings, and cover 144K destinations in 229 countries and territories worldwide. Every day more than 1.5m room nights are reserved on their platform

The Case:

Booking.com wanted to deliver new functionality more rapidly and they needed infrastructure that would help them. They decided their development teams would benefit from direct access to the core functionality and robust tooling of Kubernetes, Docker, and Helm.

In order for their developer teams to make optimal use of the new system, however, there would need to be an educational component to the migration. Specifically, Booking.com realised that a broad knowledge of Kubernetes would enable their engineers to take ownership of the services that they developed on this new system -- and reduce their reliance on the central infrastructure team for support.

Meaning, of course, that the hundreds of developers working for Booking.com all needed to be educated in the fundamentals of Kubernetes.

So they called CS.

What did we do?

Booking.com were confident in their ability to build the new Kubernetes-based system. What they needed was an efficient way to teach their developers how to use it, including guided practice to help them become confident and self-sufficient. Together, we created a custom training service for their development teams as part of their new infrastructure rollout.

STAGE 1

We ran an initial expertise assessment, which showed that, although most of their engineers had a basic understanding of container technology, some did not.

Rather than run an introductory training course for everyone -- which would have been a waste of time for many -- we created an online-self study course on the essentials of Docker and containers. Engineers could complete this at their leisure if they needed it, and it provided the required background knowledge for the Stage 2 training.

STAGE 2

The second stage of training was CS’s two-day Introduction to Kubernetes course. This covered everything the devs needed to know about deploying, running and managing an example application on their new clusters using standard Kubernetes APIs and tools. We then dove into Booking.com’s own container infrastructure and how to get started with it. The aim was for Booking.com developers to:

  • Gain a strong mental model of Kubernetes
  • Become self-reliant when working with Kubernetes and capable of continuing to learn about the Booking.com infrastructure themselves, using public resources.

How was the training delivered?

Stage 2 training was delivered in workshops of 20 engineers by our CS trainers -- our “train the trainers” system -- to enable Booking.com to become self-sufficient as soon as possible.

  • Booking.com trainers attended our Kubernetes course to familiarise themselves with the materials and training processes.
  • CS ran ½ day workshops for their trainers, to teach them how to teach the course.

By early Autumn, 200 of their engineers were trained and confident in the new tools, and Booking.com had gained the capacity to train the rest of their own developers as they transition to the new infrastructure.

Within 3 months, they had gained the skills and materials they needed to train their own staff, while we simultaneously trained the first cohorts of their engineers.

Did It Work?

90% of the learners felt they had improved their skills.

The result was trained staff and a happy client who met all their requirements for the project. In their own words:

“Things are going well here. We are still giving the training twice per month, it’s still fully booked 2 months out and highly rated. We are seeing a steady and strong adoption of our new Kubernetes infra without a similar increase in support requests -- so the training really sets service owners up to be self reliant“ - Booking.com

Participant feedback:

“The training was very fun and well presented. Trainer was very skilled with kubectl and was able to solve all of our problems.”

“Very knowledgeable instructor and interesting material.”

“It's great for people with zero skills of Kubernetes”

“Trainer delivered the content very well!"

“It was one of the best sessions I’ve attended [...]. Very good balance between theoretical concepts and hands-on exercises”

“This course was very useful for understanding Kubernetes. Reading the documentation is slightly overwhelming - this course helped put a lot of the documentation into context”

Photo by Justin Lynch on Unsplash

 

If you want to know more about our Kubernetes Essentials training, you can download the brochure below.

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