Last Christmas, Santa Claus cut present delivery times WAY too close. He was able to fulfill all the children’s wishlists (the nice ones, anyway), but by the time he got to the end of his route, the sun was starting to come up and he almost got caught while climbing up the chimney on several occasions. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

The existing Christmas pipeline was just no good for modern business and Santa knew it. You might be surprised to learn that, even in 2016, the North Pole was still handling requests with snail mail. More than 70% of children’s Christmas wishlists were handwritten and had to be manually categorized by the elves. Because children aren’t known for their excellent penmanship, this resulted in a number of incorrect deliveries – several thousand boys and girls got things they never asked for. Alby Snowball, CTO (Chief Toy Officer) at Santa’s workshop, put it bluntly – “The systems our organization had in place just weren’t working. Our business goals seemed out of reach and Christmas spirit was at an all time low.”

The Naughty and Nice List was in shambles. Keeping track of behavior throughout the year was also a manual process. According to Bushy Evergreen, the Director of the Naughty and Nice List, “The whole system was built on legacy infrastructure – we kept a master copy of the list on an oversized sheet of parchment paper and we’d have to add and erase names around with a big feather quill. On top of that, we kept it in the reindeer stables, so you can imagine the hygiene issues when admins would go out there to change it after finding out someone stole from the cookie jar or lied about their report card. The system was just a nightmare.”

Even the toy factory was a wreck. Machines broke down almost weekly, even with two elf magic technicians on call at any given time. A major jam in the gift wrapping machine just after Thanksgiving shut down operations for nearly 24 hours, and many elves ended up working double shifts throughout the rest of the year just to meet their toy production goals.

Don’t get us started on security – the number of fraudulent letters to Santa reached an all time peak in 2016. The Easter Bunny and his team of black hat rabbits seemed more determined than ever to earn back market share on novelty chocolate figurines…let’s just say they were willing to try some pretty dirty tricks to do it.

Santa finally decided enough was enough. It was time to start moving to the cloud.

How the North Pole Migrated to the Cloud

Each year, the North Pole fulfills deliveries to more than one billion good little boys and girls. By 2050, Santa expects the number of children under age 15 to reach nearly 1.9 billion, and of those, nearly 85% will be on the Nice List. Needless to say – that’s a lot of presents!

Since the debacle of Christmas 2016, we’ve partnered with the North Pole to train a team of several hundred elves on how to get the most out of their new infrastructure. Although operations are still underway and preparations are still being made, this year’s Christmas is shaping up to go much more smoothly. Children’s letters are now being uploaded to S3, the Naughty and Nice List is securely stored in a database, and the elves have even started integrating machine learning to help them meet demand as the world’s population grows.

Throughout the rest of this month, we want to share with you the story of one of our largest and most successful customers: Santa’s workshop. We’ll be explaining a few of the problems faced as they migrated from a legacy elf magic system, and how their new AWS architecture is helping them track Christmas wishes, make toys, and deliver packages more efficiently than ever.

You can sign up for email updates below (we might just have a Christmas surprise coming, too…). Stay tuned for the next chapter!

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About This Author

Phil Zona is an assessment architect for Cloud Assessments. When he's not writing, he enjoys web development, cooking (and eating), and watching videos of animals behaving like humans.

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