Migrate the Monolith

Year: 2018
Client: Google

The navigational interface leverages the same design system for Next 2018. The same breadcrumb and footer system is applied as Cloud Maker.

Users take the blocks from the totem and place them on the table to drive the experience.

Installation view featuring the blocks, interactive table, and screen.

Overview We played with Tangram blocks to show how simple and easy it is to transition from On-Prem to the Cloud. Through the interactive demo, attendees learned how to migrate their old and outdated monolithic servers and applications to a cloud-based collection of microservices.
Design lead
UX Design

  • 5,000+ Attendees
  • 20+ custom installations in various scales
  • 150+ Googlers interacting with customers and partners
  • 800+ total engagement
  • 200+ daily experience engagements
  • 750+ leads captured

Context & Challenge For Google Cloud’s first Next, we were tasked with creating an experience that educate and inform attendees how to upgrade their old systems to Google Cloud’s system. This was a very important demo, because it served as the first step to cloud computing with Google. Just like all the other demo’s we created for Google Cloud, I had to educate myself about migration and monolithic structures. 

It was daunting to consider how we can create an activation around migration when I didn’t know a thing about monolithic structures. However, after reading through few white papers, I was able to draw parallels and think of metaphors using Tangram pieces. 

Key Target UsersWe were able to discern attendee profiles from event registration data. Once we recognized the types of users that will be coming to the event, we were able to set the right level of interactivity for the installations.




IT + Business
Decision Makers





We have identified the developers and the IT/Business decision makers as the main users of the interactives. They are the ones that will be hands on the job so we had to make sure there was enough substance for them to see under the hood and poke around all the buttons and dials.
However, that doesn’t mean we should count out the C Suite audience. For the CEO/CTOs that are less likely hands on, we had to make the experience easily followable from a distance.

The Process Monolithic structures are basically just legacy servers that stayed in your office (hence On-Premises). It was basically just made up of three main components. Within each components are 3-4 services. We first identified and labeled the components. Based on their functions, we grouped them to color schemes so they clearly represent the components of the structure. Once we were able to identify the pieces, it was just a matter of arranging them to an identifiable and relevent object.

The experience relied on physical pieces and the users had to place them together by hand. We embeded NFC chips on the blocks and the table so that they can react with each other to move forward the steps on the screen. By placing the blocks together, the user progressed through the UX.

In order to understand the technology, I had to read through a white paper to try to understand the task at hand.

System diagrams in the white paper allowed me to understand what a monolithic structure is and how it can be broken down to various microservices. It reminded me of Jenga like block game where things can come together and break apart to create some other form. 

User Flow

UX Studies

Initial thoughts revolved around making the experience like a Jenga gameplay. However, just moving around the blocks did not portray the full picture. The more I digged into the technology, I realized that it’s actually like a Tangram game where blocks can turn into different shapes while keeping their unique shapes.

Each of the blocks represented services that make up the monolith. The blocks can be color coded depending on their layers and can break away to serve as microservice clusters.

Layer 1 screen
The attendee starts migrating the monolith in layers. The first layer makes up the head portion of the tangram animal. The attendee looks at the screen and places the right pieces to the right outline.

Layer 1 screen
Once layer 1 has been created, the user is able to deploy layer 1 and move onto layer 2 and 3.

Layer 2 screen
Like layer 1, the attendee is creating the frontal body part of the animal for layer 2. The attendee places the pieces following the instruction.
Layer 2 screen
Once layer 2 has been created, the user is able to deploy layer 1 and move onto layer 3

Layer 3 screen
Repeated steps following layer 1 and 2 construction.

Layer 3 screen
Once layer 3 has been created, the user deploys the final migrated microservice to Velostrata. 

Tangram of camel shape had been used as a placeholder to fulfill the block count. The stakeholder and I came up with a new shape that’d be more appropriate. We were also able to figure out the correct layers and the names of the final blocks.

Conclusion The user removes tangram pieces off the monolith and places them on a digital surface in a specific sequence. The tangram pieces combine to create microservices -- order, product, or profile. As pieces are migrated, LED strips activate on the monolith and information or animations appear on the screen

ReflectionSometimes the demo’s go over the top for the draw factor. Migrate the Monolith is a good example of an informative demo that had the right balance of engaging interactivity and content delivery. When the interactivty itself has too many bells and whistles, the content and purpose gets lost, but this demo had the right balance.  

Full Team
UI Design: Ryan Greenhalgh