Santa Selects Harness for Continuous Delivery in 2017

By Steve Burton
December 11, 2017

Santa is a global industry leader in delivering parcels to good kids at Christmas time. Based in Greenland, Santa delivers to over 5 billion kids in 160 countries each year within a 24-hour timeframe.

A few weeks back, I was fortunate enough to spend time with Santa at his grotto. The first thing I quickly learned was Santa’s relentless passion for the customer:

“These damn kids now have mobile devices and are now changing their Christmas lists every frickin day,” said Santa. “This level of change puts a massive strain on our systems, processes, and elves.” He added, “For the first time in 1,000 years I missed our delivery deadline last year and 47 million kids received no presents.”

Going Digital

Santa, just like most organizations, has witnessed meteoric growth in demand from his digital platform. “10 years ago kids would just send me a letter through the mail. Then, a few years ago, my DevOps Elf told me to build a new digital platform so we could process 10X more lists.”

Now Santa’s operation has reached an inflection point. “It’s a situation where I simply don’t have enough reindeer to procure and deliver all these lists,” Santa explained. “Building another reindeer farm is simply not an option as I’ve run out of room, not to mention the cost of a million carrots to feed them all.”


Over the past few years, Santa has been experimenting with a micro-reindeer architecture where a single reindeer is capable of delivering up to 10 million parcels/hour on their own during Christmas Eve. These micro-reindeer ultimately allowed Santa to deliver faster, while also reducing dependencies, risk, and cost of reindeer downtime.

“Years ago I’d be flying with 10 to 15 reindeer at any one time, so if one reindeer went down it would take us all down. Our MTTR was poor. On Christmas Eve, you simply can’t risk 30-40 minutes of downtime.”

The Santaless Architecture

The DevOps Elves recently came back from a Las Vegas IT conference where they learned about a new Santaless architecture – a fully autonomous parcel delivery platform that enables Santa to deliver without reindeer. Through this new API, Santa just specifies the kid, present, and delivery address and Amazon will secretly deliver at a cost of $0.0000000001 per present.

“One minute it’s these new shiny containers, the next it’s micro this, micro that, and now my DevOps elves want to retire me with this bloody new Santaless architecture!” said Santa, rolling his eyes.

Despite his exasperation over the pace of digital transformation, Santa agreed to implement the new Santaless architecture. As a result, this Christmas the DevOps elves will be deploying a hybrid cloud that is 75% private cloud micro-reindeer and 25% public AWS Santaless.

Ensuring Continuous Delivery

A major challenge for Santa and his elves was the ability to maintain Continuous Delivery in 2017 while operating this hybrid architecture of micro-reindeer and Santaless.

In the first stage of the implementation, Santa’s DevOps elves used Jenkins for CI to build and test their toys. In the past, they had also tried to build their own CD platform with Ho Ho Ho scripts to automate how toys were deployed to micro-reindeer in farm staging and farm production. “My marriage is in serious jeopardy,” said CD Elf at the time. “I’m going to be up all night for weeks writing CD scripts for this new Santaless architecture – Mrs. CD Elf will murder me!”

After a few sleepless nights, CD Elf began to research the market for CD tools.

Finding The Right Continuous Delivery Tool

That was when CD Elf discovered Harness, the industry’s first CD-As-A-Service solution. “It was like Christmas had come early,” said CD Elf. “Within a few hours, we had Harness fully integrated with Jenkins, and we had complete automation in our pipeline across our micro-reindeer and Santaless environments. We could even do canary-deer deployments so that we could verify one micro-reindeer before we deployed more micro-reindeer. It’s brilliant!”

Continuous Verification of Santaless Deliveries

Another benefit CD Elf described was the ability for Harness to automatically verify Santaless deliveries using unsupervised machine learning. “Santa wants to know in minutes whether his deliveries were successful,” said DevOps Elf. “In the past, we’d have 4-5 DevOps elves manually monitor and analyze data from SantaWatch for every delivery.”

Not any more. Now, it takes a single DevOps Elf to verify each and every delivery using Harness. “Harness is able to integrate with SantaWatch and automatically identify normal or abnormal deliveries instantly,” said DevOps Elf. “It means we’ve got more time to play Call of Duty than ever before.”

Win-Win For Santa

“Hopefully, I’ll just be able to kick back, scarf some eggnog, and eat loads of cookies on Christmas Eve now with this Santaless thing,” said Santa. “God bless that Jez Humble guy for CD and those Harness folk for their fab tool. 2017 is going to be the year of real Continuous Delivery!”

If your DevOps elves are looking for CD tools this Christmas, why not sign up for the Harness Early Adopter Program here.

Merry Christmas!



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