Nine Entertainment Manages Network Costs with Flowmill

Posted July 21, 2020 in

Nine Entertainment-alt

We are excited to announce that we have been working with the team at Nine Entertainment. Nine Entertainment is the largest media company in Australia with holdings in radio, television, and digital media. Starting in 2016 with it's Publishing business, it strongly embraced Kubernetes and began shifting all its applications towards microservice architectures. The team built a small number of Kubernetes clusters and distributed them across three availability zones in AWS. The environment was fully automated with an extensive CI pipeline and Slack-driven workflows for cluster and application management.

The team had done “a lot of work around observability” and embraced open source, investing heavily in Prometheus / Grafana for metrics, Jaeger for tracing, and an ELK stack for logs. However, Michael Lorant, a Senior Systems Engineer, noted “We still couldn’t get visibility into the network. It was still a very immature area in the Kubernetes ecosystem and we couldn’t make this work well with the traditional approach. Even once we embraced a service mesh, we found there is even more complexity in getting visibility into what’s going on in the network.”

Networking cost attribution quickly became an acute problem. As Michael noted, things like EC2 have continuously decreased in price over the years while network transfer costs have not. However, while the team had detailed metrics on CPU, memory, and I/O consumption, they could not connect network transfer costs with specific services or teams within the company. Michael noted that “we needed to know where traffic was being generated from both inbound and outbound so we could attribute and optimize the cost of running things in our clusters”.

Michael and his team deployed Flowmill to get a handle on their network transfer costs and see detailed breakdowns between services. The team used Flowmill to identify tens of thousands of dollars of unnecessary cross zone traffic and zero in on the specific services responsible. To learn more about their experience, read the case study.