GroupMap: Heroku to AWS migration

Improving security while building internal capability on the AWS Cloud.


App ModernisationAWSTechnology


Dec 2022



The Client

GroupMap was founded in Perth in 2012. Their flagship product is an online collaboration tool combining process, design and engagement to improve decision quality.

Initially designed for the face-to-face facilitation of groups of 30, the GroupMap product has grown and can now support large groups and enterprises of more than 1,000 people.

With a global user base and no plans to slow down, GroupMap found it was time to re-evaluate their cloud infrastructure.

The Challenge

GroupMap wanted a more sustainable cloud solution as their product expanded and their business grew. Looking to the future, they approached Mechanical Rock to help them migrate from Heroku to the AWS native infrastructure.

GroupMap was well aware their small team had a steep learning curve when moving from the opinionated Heroku to the highly flexible AWS native cloud.

They wanted to work alongside Mechanical Rock during project delivery, as an internal capability building exercise.

The challenge for Mechanical Rock was to deliver the simplest solution possible, whilst creating the right AWS infrastructure (with all the appropriate guardrails).

The goal was to give GroupMap a similar feature set and developer experience to Heroku but with all the functionality offered by AWS. Helping GroupMap gain confidence to independently manage their AWS infrastructure was another focus of the project.

A digital tablet, laptop and monitor screen showing GroupMap productsAn example of GroupMap's products

The Solution

Mechanical Rock developed a migration plan from Heroku to AWS to serve as the blueprint for GroupMap to migrate the rest of their applications.

This included setting up the AWS account structure with separate accounts for production and non-production workloads to reduce blast radius and ease management.

Next, Mechanical Rock constructed an end-to-end deployment pipeline for one application into a Sandbox AWS Account.

This was used by GroupMap as a reference to independently deploy applications.

Key activities included:

  • Technical validation of AWS AppRunner as a potential contender to be a Heroku equivalent
  • Developing a continuous delivery pipeline using GitHub actions and AWS container services
  • Creating parameterised Cloudformation templates to easily deploy GroupMap’s applications
  • Helping the GroupMap team acquire AWS expertise

High level architecture of the AWS migration solutionHigh level architecture of the AWS migration solution

The Benefits

Due to the structured way Mechanical Rock approached the project, GroupMap was able to create and migrate their product with confidence to an AWS infrastructure.

  • The GroupMap product now has more flexibility for future growth.
  • An improved security model created long-term stability in the product.

The migration highlighted areas where GroupMap could make improvements in how their applications and cloud infrastructure interacted.

Guidance from Mechanical Rock helped GroupMap make the transition from Heroku to AWS native cloud faster and easier.

Mechanical Rock demonstrated the deployment pipeline process, which allowed GroupMap to learn from observation and experimentation in a controlled environment.

As a result, GroupMap was able to complete the migration of rest of their applications with confidence.


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