C&K Case Study
January 26, 2024

C&K Case Study: Cloud Data, Infrastructure, & App Development

Written by Zach Banister

For over 18 years, C&K Auto Parts has provided high-quality auto parts for extended warranty companies, automobile dealer groups, and repair shops throughout the US and Canada. For the last 5 years, C&K has found Fuel Digital to be the partner that best meets their digital and technology needs.

Although very successful, C&K faced multiple technology challenges. They were attempting to move to a modern cloud architecture but lacked the expertise and practical experience to best utilize cloud services, control cloud spending, and implement a successful DevOps strategy. As a result, there was significant overspending on resources, while overall performance and reliability suffered. Their software deployments required long outage windows, incurred repeated failures, and struggled to rollback. Additional DevOps challenges included inconsistent branching strategy, discrepancies between source and production code, and no existing DevOps automation. C&K has smart business and technology associates; however, this cloud transformation was new, and they needed an experienced, proven cloud consultancy to help them successfully navigate their journey.

The Fuel team was able to address these challenges by crafting a robust cloud migration and modernization strategy as well as applying a variety of successful tactics. These efforts included a cloud usage audit, extensive technical planning, a full assessment of the current state of C&K infrastructure, as well as a vision of their desired future state. Fuel then introduced a refined environment, infrastructure consolidation, and right sizing of their cloud infrastructure — resulting in monthly cost reduction of 60%. Our team supported the design of a container-based infrastructure (via Kubernetes) for core business micro-services. Fuel revamped the DevOps architecture and established a foundational code branching strategy supported by automating software builds, deployments, and releases using Azure DevOps, and implementing pull requests with reviews (code lifecycle policy).

In addition, Fuel performed a full evaluation of C&K’s technology staff and provided support in the hiring process, including crafting job descriptions, short-listing, and interviewing candidates. The objective was to help fill positions with strong resources that fit the particular needs of the evolved C&K technical environment. With our assistance, the client was able to hire a strong technical resource to lead the IT team and allow that person to grow as a manager. We mentored, provided a fractional CTO resource and, provided a path for oversight, guidance, and escalation as needed.

Through this effort, C&K was able to reduce their annual cloud spending by $60,000. They also avoided overspending and/or “misfiring” on key technology position hires. C&K now maintains a solid, self-sufficient development team, who occasionally call on Fuel Digital for support during emergencies or advice. Deployments are now pre-scheduled and automated with minimal downtime, and rollbacks have also been automated.

C&K and Fuel Digital have both grown greatly through this long-term partnership and we continue to support their journey, as needed.