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New World Development Initiates Cultural Transformation on AWS

2020

Digital and Cultural Transformation

When considering digitally transformed industries, real estate may not immediately come to mind. The property market, particularly Hong Kong’s, has long been viewed as conservative and slow to adopt new technology. New World Development is out to change that perception. A 50-year-old conglomerate with holdings in real estate, retail, and gaming across Hong Kong, Mainland China, and Macau, New World Development has a vision to build a better society through innovation and sustainable growth.

In 2013, the company embarked on a digital and cultural transformation journey. The introduction of cloud technology was part of the transformation agenda, and New World Development collaborated with Amazon Web Services (AWS) to help promote different ways of working and to encourage innovation from the ground up. Together, they organized innovation and entrepreneur workshops that included New World Development staff, traditional enterprises such as The Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation (HSBC), and startups—demonstrating how traditional and modern practices could coexist in the new digital world.

CustomerReferences_QuoteMark

We don’t have to worry about database backups or security best practices. We leave all these things to AWS and, so far, Amazon RDS has been a very reliable and robust service.”

Calvin Lam
Cloud Infrastructure Manager, New World Development

Reliability as Top Priority

Originally, all of New World Development’s operations were hosted in a colocation data center. But by 2013, the Hong Kong government introduced new regulations requiring property listings to be updated and available online 24/7. This prompted Jason Lui, now New World Development’s assistant general manager of IT in the Technology and Digital Services department, to migrate the company’s property website and mobile app to the AWS Cloud. When selecting a cloud provider, reliability was the key factor. Calvin Lam, cloud infrastructure manager at New World Development, says, “Prior to AWS, we tried other cloud providers, but AWS is much more reliable in terms of service availability.”

Most of Lui’s team were new to cloud technology, so they attended AWS training courses on cloud architecture and relied on AWS Enterprise Support to quickly resolve any problems. “AWS Enterprise Support is always helpful and quick to respond when we have issues,” explains Lam. “The information they provide is very useful.” After training, Lam is now an AWS Certified Solutions Architect–Associate, and he is pursuing the next level of training to become an AWS Certified Solutions Architect–Professional.

Better Availability, Lower Cost

New World Development has since migrated many other applications to the AWS Cloud, including its loyalty app for retail holdings. Marketing and customer relationship management workloads have also been migrated using Amazon CloudFront for content delivery and caching. “Since migration, service availability has improved by up to 50 percent,” Lam says. “The overall operational reliability has also improved substantially. We seldom get complaints about the reliability or performance of our websites or mobile apps.”

Infrastructure costs have also dropped by 60 percent compared to using the colocation data center. In addition, New World Development has saved 30 percent on storage costs since switching to Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3), and it keeps operations costs low using AWS Direct Connect to connect its on-premises environment—used for highly confidential workloads—and its cloud infrastructure. The migration to Amazon Relational Database Service (Amazon RDS) to manage SQL and MySQL databases has been instrumental in improving resource utilization and reducing costs.

Previously, Lui’s team had to invest in pricey, third-party encryption tools. “With Amazon RDS, we don’t need to patch the database and incur downtime; plus, we don’t have to worry about database backups or security best practices. We leave all these things to AWS and, so far, Amazon RDS has been a very reliable and robust service,” Lam says. The use of built-in encryption tools and AWS Web Application Firewall (AWS WAF) ensures that security is built into its databases and the data stored on Amazon S3.

Sales and Marketing Support

Overall, switching to the AWS Cloud has given Lui’s team more time to support internal teams such as the sales and marketing staff. “Our users find us more resourceful now and comment on how we proactively support them. In the old days, we spent a lot of time patching servers and installing software and hardware. We didn’t have any buffer to provide the additional support they requested,” Lam comments.

One other project that has yielded excellent results is the implementation of Amazon Simple Email Service (Amazon SES) to replace Gmail and Outlook. The marketing team has given positive feedback on Amazon SES, commenting on how they appreciate the visibility gained with detailed “success/failure send” reports for each message. This helps New World Development better track results from direct marketing campaigns, particularly those targeting VIP clients.

Project Duration Drops from Months to Weeks

Migrating to the AWS Cloud has also reduced the time-to-market for new projects by 30 percent. “Before adopting cloud services, we measured our average project duration in months. Now that has decreased to a matter of weeks,” Lam explains. A major reason for this reduction is the ability to learn and fail fast on the AWS Cloud. Lam’s team is constantly trying new things and now has the freedom to experiment without worrying about wasting resources.

New World Development’s cloud roadmap is continually evolving in line with the company’s focus on innovation. Currently, Lui’s team is experimenting with the use of container technology for new digital workloads around social networking and is evaluating Amazon Elastic Kubernetes Service (Amazon EKS) as a way to manage highly scalable and distributed applications. Additionally, new innovation workshops are on the calendar as New World Development seeks to further revitalize Hong Kong’s property market. “We are always keen to explore technology not just to help the top and bottom lines, but also to transform the way people work in our company,” Lam says. “We treat cloud technology as a key innovation element to delivering unique and intriguing customer experiences.”

To learn more, visit aws.amazon.com/cloudfront.


About New World Development

New World Development is a conglomerate based in Hong Kong with holdings across Mainland China and Macau. Its core businesses include property development, infrastructure and services, retail, and hotels and serviced apartments. New World Development has implemented a culture of innovation and promotes sustainable growth from within.

Benefits of AWS

  • Lowers infrastructure costs by 60%
  • Improves service availability by up to 50%
  • Reduces time-to-market by 30%
  • Offers visibility into email activity and marketing campaigns
  • Encourages innovation and fail-fast experimentation

AWS Services Used

Amazon CloudFront

Amazon CloudFront is a fast content delivery network (CDN) service that securely delivers data, videos, applications, and APIs to customers globally with low latency, high transfer speeds, all within a developer-friendly environment.

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Amazon Relational Database Service

Amazon Relational Database Service (Amazon RDS) makes it easy to set up, operate, and scale a relational database in the cloud. It provides cost-efficient and resizable capacity while automating time-consuming administration tasks such as hardware provisioning, database setup, patching and backups.

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Amazon Simple Storage Service

Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3) is an object storage service that offers industry-leading scalability, data availability, security, and performance. This means customers of all sizes and industries can use it to store and protect any amount of data for a range of use cases, such as websites, mobile applications, backup and restore, archive, enterprise applications, IoT devices, and big data analytics.

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Amazon Simple Email Service

Amazon Simple Email Service (Amazon SES) is a cloud-based email sending service designed to help digital marketers and application developers send marketing, notification, and transactional emails. It is a reliable, cost-effective service for businesses of all sizes that use email to keep in contact with their customers.

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