Tokyo-based NTT DOCOMO is the largest mobile service provider in Japan, serving more than 68 million customers. The company provides mobile phone, video phone, and Internet services and works with partners to contribute to the evolution of smart mobile technologies that enrich people’s lives. The organization’s solutions include web service systems such as a voice-activated agent service called “Shabette Concierge,” business systems such as data analysis, and mission-critical corporate applications.
One of the company’s primary solutions is its internal data analysis system, which is used to collect data from a variety of internal and external sources. NTT DOCOMO data scientists access the system to analyze this data to improve marketing operations. However, the system, which was based on an existing data warehouse, experienced performance challenges as the amount of data grew to multiple petabytes. To address the challenges, the company sought to move some of its data analysis workload to a cloud-based solution.
As it considered a move to the cloud, NTT DOCOMO needed to make sure it could provide strong security for the data stored in its business applications. “We have to ensure the confidentiality of all our data, and we have many additional internal security requirements to satisfy,” says Yuki Moritani, manager of Innovation Management Department, NTT DOCOMO. “We needed the same level of security as we have for our on-premises solutions.”
NTT DOCOMO initially decided to move its web service systems to Amazon Web Services (AWS) in 2012. “AWS is the industry leader, so that decision was easy for us to make,” says Moritani. “No other cloud provider offers the security and scalability that AWS provides.” In late 2014, the company continued its migration to the cloud by moving its data analytics platform to AWS, and currently runs a massive 125-8xl-node cluster with over 4,500 virtual CPUs and 30 terabytes of RAM on Amazon Redshift.
The organization collects external and internal data, processes it on-premises, encrypts the processed data, and sends it through AWS Direct Connect and Amazon Virtual Private Cloud (Amazon VPC) gateway to Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3). From Amazon S3, the data flows to Amazon Redshift, a petabyte-scale data warehouse. “We operate in a hybrid mode. We pre-process the data on premises and load the processed data into our massive, multi-petabyte data warehouse on Amazon Redshift, which our data scientists use as their primary analytics platform,” says Moritani.
NTT DOCOMO delegates some statistical analysis to Amazon Relational Database Service (Amazon RDS), and some of the company’s data scientists access data in Amazon RDS. It also uses Amazon Elastic MapReduce (Amazon EMR) to process some workloads such as modeling and tuning parameters for machine learning.
The performance of the company’s data analytics platform has improved significantly after it was migrated from an on-premises data warehousing solution to Amazon Redshift, giving NTT DOCOMO data scientists faster analytical capabilities. “Analytical queries are 10 times faster in Amazon Redshift than they were with our previous data warehouse,” says Moritani. “We have several petabytes of data and use a massive Redshift cluster. Our data science team can get to the data faster and then analyze that data to find new ways to reduce costs, market products, and enable new business. In our on premises environment, extending the data analysis platform to add new data sources might have taken several months to complete. We can now do it in weeks using AWS and Amazon Redshift.”
NTT DOCOMO is also able to meet its security requirements at a level equivalent to its on-premises solutions, using features such as comprehensive logging, access controls, and user management and control. The company is now standardizing the security measures it built on AWS across the entire enterprise.
The company also took advantage of AWS to rapidly build out its web services and business systems and evolve those systems to meet its business needs. And because AWS has satisfied the company’s internal security requirements, NTT DOCOMO expects to do the same for future deployments and ensure they are built even more quickly.
In addition, the organization can now scale seamlessly in the AWS cloud. “We have the elasticity to support sudden spikes in traffic, and we have the agility to launch new services for customers very quickly using AWS,” says Moritani. NTT DOCOMO is also experiencing cost savings. “Time is money, and we are definitely saving a lot of administrative time by using AWS,” says Moritani. “We don’t spend as much time managing infrastructure, so we can focus more of our time on important business initiatives.”
NTT DOCOMO has plans to extend its data analytics platform for collaboration with other companies and partners, while continuing to scale to meet new business growth. Moritani says, “Every month, the number of AWS accounts at NTT DOCOMO is increasing, and as that happens, we will increase the number of services we will migrate to AWS.”
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