Tired from a long flight, you arrive at your hotel, relieved that you can use a mobile app to avoid the line at the desk to check in to your room instantaneously. You generate a digital key on your phone to open the door. You crawl into bed for a quick nap and dim the lights from a convenient control panel at your bedside. MGM Resorts International, which has appeared in the Fortune 500 for the last 18 years, strives to utilize technology to entertain and create awe-inspiring experiences for guests around the world.
And you don’t have to stay in one of MGM’s properties to join in on the experience. If you’ve ever seen the MGM Grand’s towering billboards light up the streets of Las Vegas, you’ve witnessed the work of the Digital Ventures Team. This global team of 100+ engineers is responsible for building polished, customer-forward digital experiences across MGM properties, from websites and chatbots to interactive displays and self-service kiosks.
The Digital Ventures Team understands that at the heart of any human-centered experience is, of course, the humans who build and use the product.
Collaboration and customer focus are our core principles, said Jay Sreedharan, SVP Engineering,
It’s all about collaborating across the business to make guests happy. To scale the team, transform their approach to software, and create seamless digital experiences for millions of guests, partners, and passersby, the engineers at MGM chose to partner with GitHub.
We are experiencing high velocity growth, Sreedharan explained. He joined MGM in 2018 determined to build out a talented, experienced engineering team. He expanded his talent pool globally from Las Vegas across the United States and Europe. In 2019, the team is rapidly onboarding new hires, plus vendor teams, collaborating around the world on a vast collection of source code.
As the team grew, it became clear they needed to standardize their code on one platform and using one DevOps pipeline. MGM needed a tool that could scale with their team and enable a complete, efficient, and flexible DevOps lifecycle. They assessed a number of source management systems before ultimately selecting GitHub. From the start, Sreedharan saw GitHub as a partner in building out MGM’s development lifecycle. When the team decided to make the move, they approached the migration thoughtfully, considering a holistic DevOps process.
We’re taking MGM forward by investing in the digital space, Sreedharan explained,
Getting the codebase in one place is one of the first steps.
Sreedharan believes the effort it takes engineers to find and access existing code has a “transaction cost.” With all of their projects in one place, the Digital Ventures Team saw significant reduction in this cost. And for Sreedharan, the ease of quickly building and expanding on existing code using GitHub has an immediate return on investment. Reducing administrative overhead was another focus of the MGM team. By hosting code in the cloud instead of in their own data centers, and relying on managed tools and integrations instead of on their own custom applications, they have already saved countless hours.
As his team adopts new developer tools, Sreedharan values GitHub’s mature and wide-reaching ecosystem of integrations.
We are in the business of enabling customer scenarios, not developing a CI/CD product from the ground up, he explained.
Using products built by industry experts allows us to be nimble and focus on meaningful development.
We are in the business of enabling customer scenarios, not developing a CI/CD product from the ground up. Using products built by industry experts allows us to be nimble and focus on meaningful development.
Since migrating to GitHub, engineers at MGM can integrate with the industry’s best tools without committing resources to building and maintaining custom applications.
In our DevOps model, Sreedharan elaborated,
We can utilize tools like CircleCI that efficiently work with GitHub and eliminate time spent building a custom toolset, and we have code in a known, secure and discoverable location.
GitHub has also enabled security best practices like code scanning and access control. In particular, permissions and identity management have become important as the team grows.
I can see who is accessing the source code, checking in, and using the DevOps pipeline, he said.
Our identity provider Okta and all of its security features are tightly integrated with all of our systems, including GitHub.
Looking ahead, Sreedharan sees GitHub as a platform that can help MGM follow through on changes already in flight.
The goal is the entire enterprise embracing GitHub, he said,
A place where everyone can share code, and collaborate within an open source model.
Sreedharan plans to measure the success of this vision by return on investment and product innovation. He imagines a world in which hotel lobby lines don’t exist, check in is automatic, ID verification is seamless, keys are virtual—and it’s all powered by software.
All of the KPIs we’re working toward start with writing software, he explained,
And GitHub is where developers work.
All of the KPIs we’re working toward start with writing software and GitHub is where developers work.
To support the product’s ambition, it’s clear the Digital Ventures Team needs to keep growing. Sreedharan explained that GitHub’s unique value is in its ecosystem and its community. As the largest developer community in the world, the platform will remain an important part of his hiring strategy.
There are lots of possibilities in the GitHub ecosystem, he said,
It has helped us reach more developers and tell our story: that MGM is an innovator in technology.
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Amjith Ramanujam couldn't find a tool he wanted, so he wrote pgcli, a command line interface for Postgres. A few years later, he passed the torch to another contributor, Irina, to focus on being a father.
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