With a massive technology footprint, including half a million CPU cores that process some two trillion Kafka messages a day, Agoda has the scale and expertise to run its IT operations efficiently and at a lower cost than many of its peers.
That’s why the online travel agency, which caters primarily to consumers in Asia-Pacific, runs its IT infrastructure almost entirely on its private cloud. The company, an emerging technology powerhouse, operates four datacentres across the region and uses a lot of open-source software to build its services.
In an interview with Computer Weekly, Idan Zalzberg, chief technology officer (CTO) at Agoda, talks up the company’s technology strategy, such as building its own expertise to avoid vendor lock-in. He also shares his thoughts on the challenges of public cloud adoption and what Agoda is doing to manage the complexities of working with a large partner ecosystem.
Aaron Tan: Tell us more about Agoda’s overall technology strategy
Idan Zalzberg: I think what drives our technology strategy is not only our business needs, but also the culture and values we want to drive within the company. First, we’d like to have a culture where teams can work independently, be as self-service as possible and not have to wait for somebody to approve anything before they move forward. And they have to move fast in small increments and learn.
They also must be able to experiment. One of the things we’ve built is an extensive experimentation platform that runs, at any point in time, around 1,000 experiments to improve our user experience. A user would be subjected to about 72 experiments on average, which means no two users would have the same experience on Agoda.
When you take all those things together, that’s what makes us special. We want to be self-service, and still be able to do it efficiently at scale while maintaining quality. So, there are a lot of things we want to do at the same time, which is not easy for us as a tech organisation.
That leads us to our strategy of running things on our own and not relying on the public cloud. We’re almost completely on-premise. We have four datacentres, and we use a lot of open-source software. We build a lot of stuff ourselves and we see the value of doing that. We also try very hard to avoid vendor lock-in.