I was surprised that [AWS] gave us recommendations from the start on how to cut costs. It proved that AWS… is in it for a long-term strategic partnership.
Melissa Banzon Head of ISG Transformation Office, Globe Telecom

Globe Telecom, Inc. is a leading telecommunications service provider (“telco”) in the Philippines, with more than 65 million mobile and 1.5 million home broadband customers. Innovation is at the heart of the company, whose mission is to become the leading digital lifestyle services provider in the nation. In 2014, Globe Telecom CEO Ernest Cu introduced a cloud-first policy. This policy aims to shift Globe Telecom’s IT spend from a CAPEX model, which is dependent on constant server acquisition, to an OPEX model, which is easily scalable. To date, about 60 percent of new workloads are placed on Amazon Web Services (AWS).

As one of only two major players in the Philippine telco market, Globe Telecom constantly seeks avenues to cut costs and improve its service offerings. Oracle applications were being used in 90 percent of its services, but it was proving too costly for Globe Telecom to sustain a competitive position. Its IT team decided to pursue the adoption of non-proprietary databases.

AWS immediately responded to Globe Telecom’s need to find the best-fit open-source database, providing recommendations on migration and the best way to optimize these workloads. The team also approached one of Globe Telecom’s independent software vendors (ISVs) to support the move away from Oracle.

DANATEQ, an AWS Partner Network (APN) Standard Technology Partner, responded to the call to collaborate with Globe Telecom on the open-source initiative. DANATEQ is an ISV providing businesses with analytics solutions based on AI and machine learning.

Globe Telecom uses DANATEQ’s LINK cognitive streaming analytics software as its centralized notification platform. The platform builds a profile of each subscriber, including usage patterns and billing data, that is used to send campaign-related marketing communications for multiple initiatives. LINK processes 120,000 transactions per second, which is standard for telco-grade workloads but considered heavy in other industries.

Speaking about Globe Telecom’s open-source initiative, Monica Raymundo, head of sales at DANATEQ, says, “We had to make sure that we could still maintain the integrity of our platform when moving out of Oracle onto AWS, while at the same time offering a lower cost. The project would also allow us to future-proof the platform for anticipated growth.” Globe Telecom’s mobile subscriber base totaled 65.1 million as of June 2018—up 9 percent from the same period in the previous year.

Globe Telecom chose PostgreSQL as the open-source database for the project, running on Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) instances. Full migration of the telco-grade workload was achieved in seven months, with no interruptions to service quality. “LINK was able to process that massive quantity of data using a non-Oracle database, which is a proof point we want to use for other projects,” says Maribeth Tiu, head of IT Solutions Delivery at Globe Telecom.

The telco is a user of AWS Enterprise Support, which was crucial throughout the migration project. “AWS support has been very strong,” says Melissa Banzon, Head of ISG Transformation Office at Globe Telecom. “We are still new at this, so it’s critical that we are given guidance in terms of how to go about our digital transformation journey. Every year, we refresh our strategy, and AWS has responded very positively, really understanding where the organization wants to go and proactively offering relevant support.” Speaking about its relationship with AWS in the first few days, Banzon adds, “I was surprised that they gave us recommendations from the start on how to cut costs. It proved that AWS truly believes in customer obsession and is in it for a long-term strategic partnership.”

Training is also a priority at Globe Telecom, and four team members are now AWS Certified Solution Architects. AWS has provided cloud training to Globe Telecom staff as well as its vendor partners, offering master classes every quarter and informal trainings and well-architected design reviews.

With the LINK platform, as with other AWS-backed applications, many of Globe Telecom’s security concerns have been addressed. The telco has a policy that any new application running on AWS will be approved given the strong standards and compliance that AWS maintains. This improves the time-to-market for new service offerings at Globe Telecom. “Scaling fast is very important for us, and our information security team is very comfortable with AWS,” says Banzon.

“We are in the final stages of opening up our Service Catalog to allow us to deliver new products and services faster,” Banzon says. On the heels of an AWS-led Service Catalog master class, Globe Telecom is designing templates that have been pre-hardened with security requirements and access protocols, enabling streamlined procurement and delivery of enterprise IT software. These are expected to be in place by Q3 2018.

The impact of the LINK open-source initiative, completed in February 2018, has already been felt. “We freed up 20 processors and 40 cores of DBEE in both production and development environments,” Banzon says. The shift out of Oracle will also save an estimated $1 million over the next three years in licensing fees—funds that Globe Telecom can use for new digital transformation projects. Performance has been solid—exceeding the latency target of 40 milliseconds. “The migration has been quick, so it’s good,” Banzon says.

This success will serve as a prime example of a telco-grade workload migration for other ISVs. This year, AWS and Globe Telecom will approach three additional ISVs to discuss open-source migration. “Getting out of Oracle with systems such as LINK gives us a lot of confidence that it can be done,” says Banzon. “We’re starting this conversation with our other ISVs because our company wants to focus on open source and agile development in the cloud, and if a vendor’s roadmap is not aligned to that, then maybe they won’t be part of that future with us.”