Established in 1997 and headquartered in Hong Kong, Comba Telecom provides complete wireless communications solutions and services that enable mobile operators and businesses to implement and extend their wireless communications networks. Listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, the company has over 30 offices in China and operates more than 40 offices throughout the Asia-Pacific region, North and South America, Europe and the Middle East. In addition to the research and development centers in China and the United States, Comba has a manufacturing plant in China with nationally accredited advanced testing services. The company’s solution portfolio includes wireless enhancement, transmission and access systems, and base station antennas and subsystems.

Since 2012, Comba Telecom had run its SAP Business One financial reporting system on a virtualized infrastructure in a Hong Kong data center. The SAP solution is used to standardize and consolidate financial reporting across offices— 40 members of the global operation and finance teams use the system to create monthly reports in a single format for the financial controller. However, for employees in offices outside Hong Kong, accessing the system was unacceptably slow. “Access times could be more than 400 milliseconds, frustrating our users and compromising their ability to complete tasks in a timely fashion,” says Maverick Wong, Assistant IT Manager, Comba Telecom. “We needed to reduce these times considerably to meet our business requirements.”

After evaluating options, Comba Telecom decided to migrate the SAP solution to Amazon Web Services (AWS). “For us, AWS had a clear edge over rival cloud providers in a range of areas—global reach, ease of use and deployment, a clear and flexible pricing scheme, and the depth of its service portfolio,” says Wong.

Comba Telecom also calculated that the total cost of ownership (TCO) to run SAP Business One in the AWS Cloud would be around 40 percent lower than deploying an internal infrastructure in overseas locations. “We would also gain the flexibility to scale our infrastructure up or down based on demand,” says Wong. “These benefits made it easy for us to secure senior management approval for this project.”

Using Amazon Virtual Private Cloud (Amazon VPC), Comba Telecom provisioned isolated sections of the AWS Cloud in the Asia-Pacific (Singapore) and São Paulo Regions to run SAP Business One. The telecom company configured a public and private subnet within each Amazon VPC. Each subnet incorporates one Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) instance; the public subnet instance provides client-side login while the private subnet instance supports the application and database. The private subnet also incorporates a virtual private network (VPN) connection back to Comba Telecom’s Hong Kong office so the IT team can manage the system and back up data. Regional users connect to SAP Business One using remote desktops over public networks.

The company uses Amazon Elastic Block Store (Amazon EBS) to provide block-level storage for use with the Amazon EC2 instances that deliver SAP Business One and to take point-in-time snapshots of storage volumes for extra data protection. Figure 1 demonstrates Comba Telecom on AWS.


Figure 1. Comba Telecom SAP Business One Solution on AWS

Comba Telecom migrated SAP Business One to the AWS Cloud in just five months, using only 16 percent of the budgeted capital expenditure for the project. It only took a few days to build a user acceptance testing environment on the AWS Cloud. The speed was great,” says Wong. “Had we needed to purchase a new server for our in-house virtualized environment, we would have had to wait a few weeks from procurement until we could set up a user acceptance testing environment.”

Overseas users can access the system in about 100 milliseconds and report completing tasks quickly and without frustration. For users located relatively close to Hong Kong or São Paulo, response times are even faster.

Comba Telecom has been very pleased with the depth and quality of services AWS provides, and plans to migrate its website and Microsoft SharePoint solution to the AWS Cloud in 2014. “We are still in the early stages of using the AWS Cloud, and we have already been deeply impressed by the range of functionality that AWS provides,” says Wong. “Besides cloud computing, we have all the security and network connection features that can allow us to quickly change our configurations, amend our infrastructure requirements, undertake testing, and make new applications and services available to end users.”

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