STMicroelectronics (ST) is a leading independent semiconductor device manufacturer. Its customers use an online design app that was built in Adobe Flash, which was approaching end of life. A move to newer technology was essential. ST and AWS Partner Storm Reply refactored the app to the cloud using AWS.
Storm Reply Refactored STMicroelectronics eDesignSuite to AWS Cloud
STMicroelectronics (ST) is an independent semiconductor device manufacturer. Embedded ST chips use advanced innovations to make electronic devices more intelligent, energy-efficient, connected, safe, and secure.
The company uses eDesignSuite, an online app that lets engineers pick components, build them into virtual circuits, and test the results. This client-side tool started life in 2007 and was built in Adobe Flash. As Flash was approaching end of life, a move to newer technology was essential. ST and AWS Partner Storm Reply—who had already successfully partnered on previous projects—successfully migrated the eDesignSuite app to the cloud using Amazon Web Services (AWS).
Based on Adobe Flash, ST needed to rebuild its old application from the ground up. Although popular with customers for its high level of functionality and good results, the Flash-based application suffered from slow loading in some territories, had an outdated UI, didn’t integrate with other ST web services or business analytics, and worked poorly on many modern devices with differing screen sizes. ST needed to refactor the app in a new architecture better suited for multi-platform cloud deployment and future expansion.
After initial internal investigations could not identify a good technology match, ST consulted with Storm Reply, with whom it had successfully worked before. An AWS Premier Consulting Partner since 2014, Storm Reply has over 200 AWS Certified employees involved in over 500 cloud projects. Storm Reply’s focus on DevOps and migration competencies proved very relevant to this project and ensured it was chosen for the re-architecting, creation, deployment, and ongoing development of the web app.
From one viewpoint, ST’s old app was typically monolithic with multiple back-end and front-end functions. These fulfilled numerous technical requirements to select components of different classes, evaluate performance, and aid electronics engineers in creating useful products. On closer examination though, the app was built around “engines" or logic modules providing design, component selection, and circuit simulation.
"Within two months of working with Storm Reply, we started to see test results and working code."
- Marcello Palano, Project Manager, STMicroelectronics
Storm Reply proposed an HTML 5 and serverless microarchitecture solution using AWS Lambda. In this, the engines were refactored and turned into microservices as part of a sustainable architecture. This design also gave ST the opportunity to improve visibility into customer usage and explore future possibilities enabled by the refactoring.
This solution worked well. The highly modular app was suitable for component-by-component migration with testing and code refactoring taking place in parallel for very fast results. Marcello Palano, ST’s Project Manager for the eDesignSuite app, says, “We had a year to migrate an application with 10 years of development behind it, and that felt scary. But within a couple of months of working with Storm Reply, we started to see test results and working code, and we soon became confident that the project would succeed.”
A Controlled Migration, Delivered on Time
ST and Storm Reply worked together as an extended team in constant day-to-day contact with a weekly two-hour pan-project status meeting. ST handled the backend tasks with its specialist knowledge of electronic design tool techniques, while Storm Reply selected AWS Lambda, Amazon API Gateway, and Amazon DynamoDB to best realize the microarchitecture. Storm Reply also created the new UI and front-end engineering.
TypeScript proved to be a good language for the project, being both modern and well-supported in the development environment and highly compatible with existing code, much of which could be quickly ported with minimal changes. The extended team found that AWS services in a DevOps context encouraged good engineering practices. This was especially vital to ensure accuracy in the simulation engine. ST’s customers are engineers themselves with exacting standards, and electronic design has no tolerance for imprecision.
ST built a special version of the Flash application that allowed automation of the input parameters and exported the results as numerical data, making it possible to create tests that could run on both old and new applications. ST and Storm Reply created and checked huge amounts of data to verify correct operation. The granularity of this process was fine enough that portions of the old Flash code could run alongside the new Lambda functions, enabling the migration to be conducted and tested in a controlled, yet rapid fashion. This quickly built confidence in both the process and the quality of the results.
Refreshed Sustainability and New Opportunities
Beyond escaping the end-of-life event horizon, ST has reaped other benefits. Previously, the app was monolithic. Front-end and backend development is now split, improving the responsibility model, the speed and quality of deployment and feature development, and the ability to keep better control of proprietary information.
This means ST now has many new strategic options for working with users, suppliers, and other partners. It is actively investigating options such as recommendation engines and machine learning, and it hopes to preferentially surface new components to better match customer needs. And as ST’s first foray into a serverless microarchitecture, the project serves as a proof of concept that will create confidence for other teams building cloud-based services. ST continues to work with Storm Reply to identify and implement these opportunities.
About the Customer
STMicroelectronics designs and builds semiconductor technologies, managing the semiconductor supply chain with state-of-the-art manufacturing facilities. An independent device manufacturer, the company works with more than 100,000 customers and thousands of partners to design and deliver products and solutions.
About the Partner
Storm Reply specializes in the design and implementation of innovative cloud-based solutions and services. Through years of experience in creating and managing IaaS, SaaS, and PaaS cloud solutions, it supports companies worldwide in the implementation of cloud-based systems and applications.
Published March 2021