Without even considering management or availability, we expect our total cost of ownership to be 50 percent lower over a five-year period using AWS.
Tho Chee Kin Head of IT

edotco Group provides telecommunications tower services to operators in Asian markets, including Bangladesh, Cambodia, Malaysia, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and Myanmar. These services include collocation, build-to-order, energy, transmission, operations, and maintenance. edotco Group’s portfolio incorporates more than 16,000 telecommunications towers across the region and 12,000 kilometers of fiber in Pakistan. Established in 2012 as a subsidiary of Asian telecommunications business Axiata Group Berhad—one of Asia's leading telecommunication companies serving 260 million subscribers across eight countries—edotco Group aims to become the leading pan-Asian tower services provider.  

During edotco Group’s establishment phase, Axiata Group Berhad had to provide the tower business with shared services from its on-premises data centers. However, both edotco Group and its parent company viewed this as an interim step until the new business ran its systems on its own technology infrastructure. “Our management had the view from day one that the best way for us to meet our requirements was to run in a public cloud,” says Tho Chee Kin, head of IT at edotco Group. “As a startup with operations distributed across several countries, we needed the capabilities to deliver services quickly and cost-effectively while achieving 99.95 percent availability.”  

edotco Group evaluated three options: Masking the server in India to host the server overseas, hosting the system in an edotco Group internal data center, or running the system in an Amazon Web Services (AWS) infrastructure. The business then reviewed the security and service levels that AWS provided, and held detailed discussions with a solutions architect at Axiata Group Berhad who was evaluating the benefits that AWS could deliver to the parent business.

The business selected a partner to implement the tower management system on AWS. Due to the relative complexity of the project, which involves managing multiple elements in real time within multiple countries, edotco decided to deploy a tower monitoring system in AWS. This monitoring system enables the business to check that towers are operating properly and delivering telecommunications network services to subscribers, and provides alerts on outages or other disruptions that can be damaging to customers and edotco Group itself.

“We had extremely strict uptime requirements for the tower monitoring system—99.95 percent—and we saw that AWS could deliver near 99.999 percent on the infrastructure layer. This could be done by configuring the AWS architecture across multiple AWS Availability Zones to minimize the risk of disruption if services in one zone experience an outage,” says Tho. An infrastructure in AWS was created within a week to run the tower monitoring system, while the partner deployed the tower management system in AWS.

The edotco Group AWS infrastructure runs in the AWS Asia Pacific (Singapore) Region. It uses Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) instances behind Elastic Load Balancing to direct incoming traffic to optimize application performance. The database that collects tower management information for processing and reporting runs in Amazon Relational Database Service (Amazon RDS), while Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3) captures data for storage and backup. The business is also running Amazon CloudWatch to monitor its infrastructure and applications, and plans to deploy AWS CloudTrail to help log events for audit and reporting purposes. The company plans to add new AWS services such as the Amazon Redshift data warehouse to support a business intelligence system it expects to implement in 2016, and will work with vendors to further optimize the performance and availability of its AWS infrastructure. “We don’t expect to reach the end of our AWS journey as we will have new products and systems coming on board all the time,” says Tho.

To build a strong internal AWS capability, the business put its technology team through AWS architecture training. Tho is authorized to send team members to achieve certification as well. “The training has been extremely helpful to date. The most important capability it has provided is enabling us to properly audit and question our vendors in detail on how their products operate in an AWS infrastructure,” he says. The business is using AWS Support, Business level, to resolve any technical concerns. Tho says the company is very happy with the service. “We have called on AWS support, and secured extremely quick resolution each time,” he says.  

By using the tools and technologies provided by AWS, edotco Group is meeting all of its early business requirements. Availability of the business’s tower-monitoring system is considerably higher than the 99.95 percent established in service level agreements with clients. The business can now easily confirm that telecommunications services are available and that each tower is receiving power. “We would like to think that uptime for clients is top priority for our business, so we need to ensure our systems are stable and available,” says Tho.

Deploying its critical business systems in AWS rather than a physical data center is also expected to significantly reduce edotco Group’s costs. “Without even considering management or availability, we expect our total cost of ownership to be 50 percent lower over a five-year period using AWS,” says Tho. “In addition, we don’t need a dedicated infrastructure team. If I had to hire server, network, backup and security experts, I would have had to invest at least RM250,000 (US$57,000) more per year.”

Tho is extremely pleased with the service and support provided by AWS to date. “Our overall experience has been very good, particularly the help we have received from the AWS technical team,” he says.  

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