Founded in 2007, Zhihuiya Information Technology (Suzhou) Co., Ltd. (“PatSnap”) is a global one-stop platform for patent search, analysis, and management. It draws on big data to provide a number of powerful yet easy-to-use patent tools, including global patent database, Insights analytics system and 3D Patent Landscape Map, enabling global customers to understand and effectively use patents, track technological advances, analyze competitors in real-time, and identify innovation trends, driving both technical and business innovation.
Due to the number of its overseas customers, PatSnap’s first priority is ensuring its business has global reach and centralized management; the second is keeping its database secure and confidential and its operations stable and reliable; and the third is enabling the rapid iteration of its business offerings to keep pace with customers’ growing needs for innovation.
On account of the geographical distribution of its customers, PatSnap has set up AWS for the US, EU, Asia Pacific, and China (Beijing) Regions (the latter is operated by Beijing Sinnet Technology Co., Ltd.). AWS’ global coverage allows PatSnap to use the same web services and website architecture across different regions, enabling technical uniformity and fast, precise isolation of local issues. Further reduction in maintenance workload comes from AWS CloudFormation, which allows PatSnap to manage the resources on the entire AWS platform through templates, meaning the company can precisely configure or order the same set of resources and, under special circumstances, replicate its data center architecture and sub-components on-demand.
Patent data are the very core of PatSnap’s assets. AWS advocates shared security responsibilities, whereby AWS manages infrastructure security and provides practices guidelines and services for its security features; and customers are expected to combine these features with third-party tools to ensure the top-level security of their applications. PatSnap took the best practices published by AWS to heart and adopted a variety of security measures including the use of Amazon Virtual Private Cloud (Amazon VPC) and AWS WAF (Web Application Firewall). By storing its patent databases on Amazon VPC, PatSnap can strictly control port access such that each device can only connect to the databases it has authorization to. AWS WAF, on the other hand, helps PatSnap to filter out malicious web traffic.
PatSnap has also turned on all the features offered by AWS Trusted Advisor to make it easier to patch platform vulnerabilities, improve security configurations, and intelligently provision resources to control costs.
Powerful data management tools
Formerly, PatSnap would create MongoDB databases on the AWS platform, but later found it easier and faster to host databases on Amazon DynamoDB instead. These databases now hold 130 million patent-related entries, and are able to adjust their throughput according to demand, allowing PatSnap and its customers to insert, export, and recover data at any time they desire.
Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3) offers several storage classes for different use cases. For example, Amazon S3 Standard is designed for frequently accessed data, and the more economical Amazon Glacier is for long-term data archiving. Once storage policies are put in place, Amazon S3 will automatically move data to the most appropriate storage class, without requiring any change from applications. PatSnap is now hosting static files and static websites on Amazon S3, and has set up lifecycle archival policies for regular data pruning and migration to Amazon Glacier.
Lastly, PatSnap uses AWS Data Pipeline to easily shift large volume of patent data among different AWS Regions.
“A fire struck our local IDC servers once and the resulting data loss was very costly and disruptive to our business. This incident prompted us to seek a cloud-based solution. We chose AWS because it offers world-class technologies and services; and using it has made us truly appreciate the reliability of the cloud and brought unexpected benefits to business innovation. Now all our business is deployed on AWS as we have long-term confidence in the service,” says Wu Ruiying, IT Manager at PatSnap.
Figure 1 shows the system architecture that supports all of PatSnap’s businesses. Aside from the services already mentioned, PatSnap also uses AWS Lambda, Amazon EMR, Amazon Elastic Container Service (Amazon ECS), Amazon Simple Queue Service (SQS), Amazon Simple Notification Service (SNS), and Amazon Simple Email Service (SES).
AWS has brought two main benefits to PatSnap: 50% reduction in costs, and 100% increase in product iteration speed.
Cost savings come from two areas: one-off reduction of upfront costs and continual saving of subsequent operation and maintenance costs. By moving to AWS, PatSnap saved 20% in initial setup cost compared with building its own server rooms, as well as 50% in annual O&M costs. Training cost also fell as the IT team at PatSnap can quickly grasp AWS’ offerings and complete building the business architecture, no longer needing to spend the time as they did on researching how to create IT environments. This reduction in manual maintenance works, and in efforts associated with building and debugging underlying system services, translates into a leaner O&M team and shorter maintenance time, allowing the company to better control its total cost of ownership.
AWS also helped PatSnap accelerate its product iteration cycle as AWS’ platform tools, professional technical support, and inherent stability mean that PatSnap can be more focused on product development. In fact, it is able to reduce products’ time-to-market by 50%, from one month to a mere two weeks.
PatSnap saw its sales double in 2016, the year it migrated to the AWS platform. In 2017, on the back of its stable services and faster product iteration cycle, PatSnap expects to gain greater market share and increase its sales by another 60%.
AWS has provided vigorous support to PatSnap’s business. Going forward, PatSnap plans to explore other potentials of the cloud platform to introduce further improvements and innovations to its patent consultancy service.
To learn more about how AWS can help you meet your data processing and storage needs, visit our “Big Data on AWS” page at https://aws.amazon.com/big-data/.