Feb 25, 2016
By Brad Apps

Migrating amaysim to AWS

BACKGROUND

amaysim is an Australian telecommunications provider, founded in November 2010 by Rolf Hansen, Peter O'Connell, Andreas Perreiter, Christian Magel and Thomas Enge. amaysim operates as a Mobile Virtual Network Operator on the Optus 4G network, and specialises in offering a range of mobile and broadband plans for customers who bring their own handsets to the amaysim service.

ECConnect are proud to continue a long term relationship with amaysim, assisting the team and providing Business Support Systems and hosting services since amaysim's conception in July 2010.

Amazon Web Services (AWS), is a collection of remote computing services, also called web services, which make up the cloud-computing platform offered by Amazon.com.

CHALLENGE

Since amaysim's launch in 2010 their growth has constantly exceeded expectations. In 2014 amaysim was growing so quickly that their dedicated hosting environment, managed by ECConnect, was presented with challenges in performance and the team faced potentially costly scalability decisions.

This growth was a result of an increasing customer base, and at the same time subscribers' behavioural changes, such as customers having multiple devices and a significant increase in data usage records. The resulting demand on the dedicated hosting environment created unwelcome headaches for the business: rare internal outages and more frequent third-party outages often caused delays and large data processing backlogs.

To put some numbers to this, amaysim were receiving an average of 35 million usage records per day into the core data-processing application. The task which receives and processes this data would take almost an hour to process an hour's worth of usage data. Following an event where a third-party vendor had a 12 hour delay, processing took 10 days to catch up, including huge manual work and loads of 24/7 hand-holding.

SOLUTION

After years of constantly adding hardware and discussing possibilities such as geographically distributed Active-Active data center setups, and investigating private cloud offerings, amaysim decided to leverage Amazon's cloud products.

ECConnect's System Administration team was involved throughout these decision making processes, and also in the design, architecture, migration-planning, setup and configuration, and the final migration.

One challenge centred around the debate that we couldn't simply ‘lift' the applications to AWS. Many consultants with previous Amazon experience advised we would have to rebuild all or most of the applications. They all said "Amazon is different". After deep analysis of the applications, together we decided that this advice was not true for us, and that our systems would enable horizontal scalability with little to no development effort.

Surprisingly, the largest challenge amaysim and ECConnect faced with this migration was CHANGE. Organisational change was the hardest thing to overcome. This impacted the development and operations teams the most. However, after this transformation these teams have felt the greatest level of benefits.

The key factors in the positive outcome from this organisational change were based on:

  • employing the right people
  • training and transparency
  • getting help from consultants
  • changing people's mindsets
  • developers lost the ability to log onto servers
  • testers were not able rely on static IP addresses
  • system administrators no longer had big metal boxes to look at, or ice cold data centres to visit

BENEFITS

Following the migration, the benefits of scalability and automation were felt immediately. amaysim and ECConnect's support team now had the ability to scale infrastructure to deal with unforeseen technical challenges and therefore avoid outages or backlogs.

As an example, the core data-processing application has been scaled up to a level where it has the ability to process about 500 million records a day - 10 times more than currently needed. After a similar third-party outage, using auto scaling, the backlog was cleared within about an hour.

Overall, the migration to Amazon Web Services was a great success for amaysim. It has allowed them to manage their current growth, as well as be prepared for future growth; and the operational benefits continue to save both time and resources across the business.

The solution has also given amaysim the ability to conduct performance testing, something they hadn't been able to do before. The ability to leverage Amazon's auto scaling and fast provisioning features has transformed the application's development and release lifecycle, as well as not having to 'guess' the scale they will need in a years' time. Finally, Amazon's data replication and manipulation tools, such as “Redshift”, have provided more transparency to the Business Intelligence and Finance teams.

In summary, amaysim saw huge growing pains due to large customer growth and huge consumer data use changes. Migrating to AWS fixed the scalability issues, but the surprising operational transformation has been amazing.

The ECConnect team would love to hear about your current IT infrastructure needs and challenges; and assist with everything to do with AWS architecture, migration and management.


Brad Apps
Founder, CEO & Director