With AWS, we made a 50 percent saving in IT costs because we didn’t have to ramp up the hardware in our existing data centers.
Jau Huang CEO, CyberLink

In 2016, Jau Huang, chief executive officer of CyberLink, announced to the company how he planned to ensure business success for the next 20 years. The company was already generating NT$1.7 billion (US$56 million) in revenues annually, through a range of multimedia software products, including the PowerDVD—a universal media player for movie discs, video files, photos, and music. At that time, CyberLink had gained multiple industry accolades, making the Forbes list of “Asia’s 200 Best Under a Billion” and Business Week’s “Asia’s 100 Hot Growth Companies.” However, Huang identified that CyberLink’s core market—the PC—was shrinking, and he wanted to refocus development around internet-based services.

CyberLink began developing an internet-based video-conferencing service called U Webinar. This new service would be lag-free and easier to operate than competing services. Users wouldn’t need to download software to their devices; instead, they could access the service through any web browser. Says Huang, “We were taking our expertise in multimedia software and applying it to the new internet age.”

While software development progressed, the company started planning for an infrastructure to run U Webinar. CyberLink was operating its own data centers in Taiwan, Germany, and the United States. Therefore, it already had an infrastructure in place to support the service’s launch. However, there were several challenges to the on-premises route. Huang explains, “We used the data centers to provide subscription-based services for products such as Director Suite 365 and DirectorZone services. To run video conferencing, we needed the internet bandwidth of these data centers to be up to 25 times higher.”

Huang continues, “Additionally, we would have to substantially increase our hardware—doubling our number of servers. That would mean renting more space in our colocation sites, additional electricity charges, and greater management costs. We wanted to avoid these expenses, so we began exploring a cloud-based solution.”

CyberLink began an assessment of Amazon Web Services (AWS), whose Asia-Pacific infrastructure offered CyberLink the connectivity it wanted for U Webinar’s launch markets of Taiwan and Japan. Adds Huang, “The global presence of AWS would enable us to quickly expand our business across Europe and the United States.”

The scalability of the AWS infrastructure came to the fore during U Webinar’s beta phase. CyberLink spoke to eCloudvalley, its AWS Partner Network (APN) Premier Consulting Partner, about U Webinar supporting one of its clients in Japan. Huang says, “Our client wanted to run a training webinar for up to 4,000 members, but U Webinar’s standard package could support only 500 concurrent users at the time. eCloudvalley then introduced us to AWS Auto Scaling, which automatically adjusts the capacity of your AWS infrastructure. We saw that with AWS Auto Scaling, we could in fact offer our service to thousands of concurrent users.”

Advised by eCloudvalley, CyberLink created Amazon Virtual Private Cloud (Amazon VPC) environments for U Webinar on AWS Availability Zones in Japan, Germany, and the United States. CyberLink also avoided the need to procure and deploy servers by using Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) instances for its web and video streaming services. It also takes advantage of Amazon Relational Database Service (Amazon RDS) as a fully managed database for U Webinar sessions and uses Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3) as its repository for static imagery.

Through serverless computing service AWS Lambda, CyberLink could cost-effectively offer U Webinar users a smart indexing service. AWS Lambda launches the smart indexing code the moment a presentation starts. The code then indexes the presentation, which is stored in Amazon S3, so interested parties can easily find the parts of the presentation they are most interested in.

With AWS, CyberLink empowers its customers to run web conferences of all sizes—from 10 to 10,000 users. The events can last for up to eight hours with cloud-based storage of up to 1 terabyte in the case of a 10,000-strong conference. Customers, including a major producer of cosmetics products in Taiwan, are using the service to onboard new starters and provide employee training. Other customers, such as a university in Taiwan, are using U Webinar to support e-learning initiatives. Says Huang, “Web conferencing is empowering organizations in helping improve the quality of services and teaching. Having the AWS Cloud behind U Webinar is a big advantage. We know we have the IT capacity behind us to deliver whatever our customers require, while we can stay focused on developing services to improve the customer experience. The Smart Index is a good example.”

Overall, CyberLink saved six months of development time for U Webinar, because the IT backbone via AWS was already in place. What’s more, as the number of customers using U Webinar increases—it’s currently at more than a hundred—CyberLink can scale up its AWS infrastructure without long procurement cycles. Adds Huang, “In just a couple of days, we can have U Webinar running in any AWS Region to support local companies. It would have taken at least a couple of months to have an on-premises infrastructure running.”

Because CyberLink never took up the option of an on-premises infrastructure, the company cut the IT costs for U Webinar in half. “With AWS, we made a 50 percent saving in IT costs because we didn’t have to ramp up the hardware in our existing data centers,” comments Huang. In addition, the company avoided the expense of managing that extra kit. “We must have saved about 28 percent in IT administration costs by opting for AWS,” Huang says. “The upshot is that we can focus more resources on the development of services like the Smart Index.”

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