Webstep Helps Ambita Speed Property Data Innovation with Migration to AWS
Webstep is an APN Advanced Consulting Partner
Webstep helped Ambita move its data center to the cloud, enabling it to cut server count by half, consolidate its infrastructure team, and cut operational costs by 40 percent. Ambita hosts its entire IT infrastructure on AWS, enabling a 10X increase in development speed so it can rapidly innovate and bring new customer pilots to market.
Webstep, an Advanced Consulting Partner in the Amazon Web Services (AWS) Partner Network (APN), provides IT consulting services, with more than 400 employees serving over 250 customers across Norway and Sweden. It recently helped Ambita, a leading Norwegian integrator of property services, and information, migrate its entire technology stack to the AWS Cloud.
“Building on a partnership going back almost 20 years, Webstep supported Ambita in making the move from a legacy data center platform to a fully cloud-based solution on AWS,” says Anders Bjørnestad, Senior Consultant at Webstep. “We were with Ambita every step of the way, from planning to migration to managed services and training to help it become fully self-sufficient.”
Adapting to Fast-Changing Customer Demand
Recently, as part of a move toward open data access, Ambita went from having a monopoly on providing property data to being one competitor among many. “With the opening up of the market, we face competition from providers of real estate technology and others,” says Jarl Totland, Development Manager at Ambita. “We must be able to adapt to customer demand and quickly provide specialized products, which was challenging in our traditional data center environment.”
The business runs 24/7, but much of its work takes place during normal business hours, making cloud elasticity highly attractive from a financial standpoint. Bjørnestad says, “Ambita was already adopting DevOps and infrastructure as code and was ready for a more dynamic platform that supported these efforts.” Totland adds, “We are experts in property data solutions, not IT infrastructure. Moving to the cloud would allow our teams to focus more on customers, reduce time-to-market for new services, and innovate faster.”
Ambita decided that AWS was the best fit for its stack of open source software. Webstep then helped Ambita assemble a cloud center of excellence team to lead an in-depth planning process. “Webstep helped develop many of the initial systems over the last 20 years, so it was very comfortable for us to work together on mapping Ambita’s technology to the cloud,” says Bjørnestad. “There was a lot of trust and openness about the pros and cons of various approaches.”
With so much of the work performed upfront, the main migration simply required pointing the build servers to Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) and Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3). Subsequently, the team migrated all databases to the PostgreSQL-compatible edition of Amazon Aurora. Ambita relies on Amazon CloudFront as a content delivery network, which simplifies management and provides high performance.
Accelerated Innovation in Customer Services
The migration enabled Ambita to decrease its server count from 600 to less than half that number, cut operational costs by 40 percent, and reduce the number of employees dedicated to infrastructure from eight to two.
Just as importantly, it has greatly accelerated innovation. “Our development speed has increased tenfold,” says Totland. “Cloud deployment is fully automated, and we are driving all new services to serverless or containerized architecture for greater agility. We have been able to roll out pilot projects for customers quickly and effortlessly.” Customers are also benefiting from greater performance and reduced latency of less than 10 milliseconds for many services.
Elasticity allows the organization to use only the resources it needs to respond to changing conditions. Previously, when a new service hit the front page of a financial publication, the data center environment required manual scaling to accommodate a rapid increase in traffic. Now, it scales up automatically in response to traffic spikes—and scales down when traffic decreases.
Business Insights, Delivered on Demand
Reporting is a major part of Ambita’s business, whether it is producing a regional report for a government entity or a portfolio analysis for a bank. “Customers increasingly demand more frequent reports and fresher data,” says Totland. “AWS helps us deliver on their expectations.”
Before the migration, Ambita managed separate reporting data clusters and had to pause replication to run reports because it was limited by the computing power available in its data center. That has all changed since the migration. “Using Amazon Aurora, Ambita can simply clone the database cluster, run reports, and then discard the clone,” says Bjørnestad. With the scalable processing power available on AWS, the company can manage large datasets and perform complex reporting quickly to meet customer demand for fresh insights.
“It doesn’t affect the production system, regardless of the volume of reporting,” notes Totland. “We can trigger reports immediately when a customer orders them, which makes us more competitive.”
The organization is looking ahead to using AWS services in new and inventive ways, such as furthering its use of AWS Lambda serverless computing. “We are excited to advance our work in machine learning and serverless computing,” says Totland. “Experimentation is the key to competitiveness in our sector and AWS helps us push further ahead than we could before.”
Ambita is a Norwegian technology company with specialized expertise in land information systems. The company helps automate real estate transactions and delivers data and insights across financial and property industries.
Published July 2020