By building the Aircel Backup app on AWS, we reduced development time by about 60%.
Dr. Uttam Kumar Senior General Manager – IT, Aircel
  • Aircel needed a scalable, reliable, and secure IT infrastructure that would support regulatory guidelines for electronic wallets
  • The company is running its Aircel e-money platform and Aircel Backup app on AWS
  • Increases speed of development by 60%
  • Enhances speed of software deployment by more than 50%
  • Achieves 99.999% service reliability
  • Ensures the scalability to meet traffic peaks
  • Gains the security needed to comply with regulations of the financial services industry

Aircel is an India mobile service provider with a strong focus on delivering innovative services to its customers. The company is a pan-India 2G operator with 3G spectrum in 13 India states. The company has won numerous awards including Voice & Data Special Leadership Recognition in the ‘Customer Service’ category at the ET Telecom Awards 2014 in India. Aircel is headquartered in Gurgaon in the state of Haryana, India.

India is one of the largest and fastest-growing smartphone markets in the world with 300 million smartphone users and more than 27.5 million devices sold in the second quarter of 2016, as reported by IDC. As a network provider competing for the millions of smartphone users in India, Aircel seeks to distinguish itself from other network providers through its portfolio of services and price plans.

As part of its portfolio of services, Aircel provides the Aircel e-money platform, which enables customers to recharge mobile data cards, pay bills, make payments, and transfer funds to any bank account. To better support continued development, Aircel wanted to migrate the Aircel e-money platform from a hosted environment to the cloud. The company also wanted to launch Aircel Backup, an Android-based mobile app which would provide customers with 2 gigabytes of free storage for files, messages, audio, and video for their mobile devices.

For both products, Aircel needed a reliable cloud infrastructure, scalable enough to traffic peaks. Crucially for Aircel, the cloud’s security would need to support regulatory guidelines for electronic wallets from the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), India’s central banking monetary authority. Dr. Uttam Kumar, senior general manager - IT, says, “Besides RBI compliance, scalability, and reliability, the backend IT for our apps had to be cost-effective. We wanted to avoid any management overheads. Our aim was to work with an infrastructure that enabled us to focus on product development rather than day-to-day administration and operations.”

Aircel looked to engage with a cloud-service provider that could deliver the requirements for the backend infrastructures of the Aircel e-money platform and Aircel Backup app. Dr. Kumar determined that Amazon Web Services (AWS) could help Aircel meet the RBI security guidelines for e-money services. “I saw that AWS Cloud had proven itself in terms of its reliability and security by other providers of electronic wallets. Furthermore, AWS offered very competitively priced storage and this made our Aircel Backup idea viable.”

Aircel began work with the AWS team along with To The New, an AWS Partner Network (APN) Advanced Consulting Partner, to design and build the backend infrastructure for Aircel Money. For their storage app, Aircel worked directly with the AWS team. To The New would also manage the AWS infrastructure for the Aircel e-money platform on behalf of Aircel. Says Dr. Kumar, “We followed a recommended architecture for our AWS infrastructure, which meant there were no technical issues with both solutions. It was a very smooth process when the apps went live.”

Both the Aircel e-money service and Aircel Backup app run on Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) instances. This includes the apps’ web servers and databases. Storage for the Aircel Backup app is provided via Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3). The company uses Amazon CloudWatch to monitor the performance of both apps and to raise an alarm if performance falls below set thresholds. It also uses AWS CloudTrail to record application programming interface (API) calls and to deliver log files.

Aircel successfully migrated the Aircel e-money service to AWS and launched Aircel Backup. Says Dr. Kumar, “By building the Aircel Backup app on AWS, we reduced development time by about 60 percent.” The AWS infrastructure behind both apps delivers 99.999 percent availability—crucial to Aircel customers. Dr. Kumar says, “The availability of our AWS infrastructure is vital because we would be liable for financial penalties from RBI if there were downtime. It’s also important to remember that, above all else, customers are looking for reliability from our apps. The stability of the AWS infrastructure enables us to deliver a high level of customer satisfaction.”

“We can easily auto-scale our AWS infrastructure to meet traffic peaks on the Aircel e-money platform and then scale the infrastructure down during quieter times,” says Kumar. In addition, because Aircel pays only for the AWS resources it consumes, the AWS infrastructure is highly cost-effective. “Compared with an on-premises solution, AWS has significantly reduced our costs,” Dr. Kumar says. Taking advantage of the AWS Cloud also gives his team of developers the flexibility to work more efficiently than they could if they were using an on-premises infrastructure. Says Dr. Kumar, “We have increased our speed of software deployment by more than 50 percent, helping us drive innovation.”