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J.B. Hunt executes speedy yet seamless cloud-to-cloud migration

About J.B. Hunt Transport Services Inc.

With nearly 60 years of industry experience, J.B. Hunt has grown from five trucks and seven trailers to a Fortune 500 company providing a variety of services for customers throughout the continental United States, Canada, and Mexico.

Industries: Transportation
Location: United States, Canada, Mexico

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In just 35 business days J.B. Hunt Transport Services Inc. demonstrated the power of assessment, planning, and testing in its near-flawless migration of workloads to Google Cloud.

Google Cloud results

  • Successfully migrated the bulk of their compute environment—more than 1,000 virtual machines, 90 Kubernetes clusters, 915 Kubernetes nodes, 27,000 pods, and 500 databases
  • No outages, downtime, or other negative impacts in their production systems during their entire migration
  • Saw a substantial performance increase across the board—for everything including the company’s Apdex score, a measure of user satisfaction with response times, which increased 10%

J.B. Hunt migrates large environments in just 35 days

J.B. Hunt executes speedy yet seamless cloud-to-cloud migration

Many companies are hesitant to migrate workloads to the cloud, fearing process complexities and potential disruptions to business continuity. Fewer still will even entertain migrating workloads from one cloud to another once they’ve made the leap. But in just 35 business days J.B. Hunt Transport Services Inc., a transportation industry leader and pioneer, demonstrated the power of assessment, planning, and testing in its near-flawless migration of workloads to Google Cloud.

A strategic business alliance drives change

For years, J.B. Hunt—one of North America’s largest transportation and logistics companies—has leveraged technology to move freight forward. In an industry that’s been hesitant to change, they’re leading the way in cloud migration. In 2018, the company moved its on-premises workloads to the cloud.

As J.B. Hunt’s business approach evolved and plans for future growth and optimization unfolded, the company leveraged a strategic business opportunity to collaborate with Google on select technologies. In early 2021, J.B. Hunt seized the opportunity to transition to a multicloud strategy and embarked on a project to migrate the bulk of their workloads and compute to Google Cloud.

“When we did the initial analysis, we scoped the project at six months. Our CIO said, ‘Make it six weeks,’ so we figured it out from there.”

Daniel Trimble, Master Software Engineer, J.B. Hunt

Executing a six-month migration in six weeks

Company leadership directed the J.B. Hunt Engineering and Technology team to complete the cloud-to-cloud migration as quickly as possible with minimal impact. This “big bang,” as the team would refer to the project, would be no small feat since its scope would involve migrating the company’s Kubernetes, TomcatTM web server, database, and messaging environments in their entirety.

“When we did the initial analysis, we scoped the project at six months,” says Master Software Engineer Daniel Trimble. Wanting to quickly realize business value in the alliance, “Our CIO said, ‘Make it six weeks,’ so we figured it out from there,” adds Trimble.

In early January 2021, Trimble, along with Senior DevOps Manager Matt Stanberry, devised a migration plan based on their initial assessment. They created a universal spreadsheet that laid out the details of their plan, then led the effort to migrate workloads to Google Cloud. Their goal was to go live in production by the end of February. The first small-scale production migration validations occurred February 4–6. The big bang implementation occurred on February 20.

“Replaying exactly how the migration was going to happen in our dev and test environments made the migration possible.”

Daniel Trimble, Master Software Engineer, J.B. Hunt

How a big-bang migration gets done

To achieve these ambitious goals, the team leveraged proofs of concept early on to determine and execute on their development plan. They identified Kubernetes—which fit with the cloud-ready workload package—as an optimal target environment for migration. Since they had already moved their Kubernetes environment once before—from a homegrown Kismatic environment to a cloud-based Kubernetes Service—Google Kubernetes Engine was an ideal place to start.

Next, they simulated a “big bang” and executed performance and functionality testing to ensure everything replicated to production. The process moved quickly and took about seven weeks from planning through completion.

By the day the big bang arrived, the team had already caught and resolved most issues in advance through their extensive development and testing. Trimble says they did experience a couple “gotchas” in Domain Name System replication and execution of the Tomcat environment—which required one server in development, two in testing, and eight in production—and consequently, took longer than expected. Nevertheless, these instances weren’t critical. In fact, William Kuykendall, Vice President of Engineering and Technology at J.B. Hunt, referred to his team’s migration execution as near flawless.

“Replaying exactly how the migration was going to happen in our dev and test environments made the migration possible,” says Trimble.

“We did that whole big move without any service interruption to our clients. We picked it all up, moved it, and nobody knew the wiser. That’s why we considered the migration so successful. One surprising thing about the whole migration to Google Cloud is that we saw a substantial performance increase across the board—for everything,”

Daniel Trimble, Master Software Engineer, J.B. Hunt

A massive migration ends in success

In all, J.B. Hunt successfully migrated the bulk of their compute environment—more than 1,000 virtual machines, 90 Kubernetes clusters, 915 Kubernetes nodes, 27,000 pods, and 500 databases—during their big-bang migration. They accomplished this with no outages, downtime, or other negative impacts in their production systems.

“We did that whole big move without any service interruption to our clients. We picked it all up, moved it, and nobody knew the wiser. That’s why we considered the migration so successful,” Trimble says.

As an added bonus since their migration to Google Cloud, J.B. Hunt has seen both performance increases and networking improvements. “One surprising thing about the whole migration to Google Cloud is that we saw a substantial performance increase across the board—for everything,” says Trimble. Additionally, the company’s Apdex score, a measure of user satisfaction with response times, has increased 10%, and their Tomcat builds are faster in Google Cloud.

Modernization continues

Although J.B. Hunt’s big-bang migration has come and gone, their infrastructure-modernization journey continues. “We recognize that Kubernetes and containers are the future of our compute,” says Trimble. As such, the Engineering and Technology team is continuing to move leftover on-premises technologies to the cloud, such as migrating the remaining Tomcat virtual machines to Kubernetes and migrating any other independent applications to containers.

Additionally, the team is eager to continue developing new customer-focused solutions by leveraging strengths that Google Cloud brings to the table, such as AI and machine learning. With Google Cloud, J.B. Hunt will continue to increase its resilience and efficiency, exceed customer expectations, and adopt advanced technology with ease.

Tell us your challenge. We're here to help.

Contact us

About J.B. Hunt Transport Services Inc.

With nearly 60 years of industry experience, J.B. Hunt has grown from five trucks and seven trailers to a Fortune 500 company providing a variety of services for customers throughout the continental United States, Canada, and Mexico.

Industries: Transportation
Location: United States, Canada, Mexico