We’ve practically eliminated the time-consuming tasks related to hardware deployment. This means we can reduce lead times for projects by 30%. Our clients are very happy.
Björn Qvarsell Product Manager

Founded in Stockholm, Sweden, in 1989, Symsoft provides cloud-based communications services to enterprises and software solutions to mobile operators in more than 40 countries, with millions of end users. It established its expertise in messaging and online charging for mobile network operators (MNOs) during the early 1990s, and soon widened its portfolio to cover advanced communications solutions such as network security, voice, messaging, mobile data, and customer management services. Symsoft helps connect enterprises and operators, and delivers business support systems that allow its clients to create excellent customer experiences.

Symsoft has built its success on innovation, strategically adopting new technologies that provide business value. In 2014, Symsoft Product Manager Björn Qvarsell took on the role of leading an internal strategic initiative to explore opportunities in the cloud. Until then, Symsoft had operated its systems for customers on physical environments. Over the years, these had gradually become more standardized, but they still required ongoing support and, in some cases, management from Symsoft. “Like many software companies, we’re reluctant to buy boxes,” says Qvarsell. “Customers don’t like the hassle of proprietary hardware in their environments, plus we thought we could drastically shorten the time it takes to deploy one of our installations by cutting out the hardware procurement phase altogether. Buying, speccing, and supporting hardware is not our core business, so if we can move away from it, we will.”

While this project started as a way to cut lead times, Symsoft also thought it could lower costs for itself and for customers by reducing the amount of effort required by both parties to maintain a solution.

Symsoft looked at a number of other cloud services providers, but Amazon Web Services (AWS) had a range of value-adding benefits that attracted Qvarsell. “With AWS, we liked the ability to start a deployment as soon as we secured a purchase order from a client,” he says. “And we also liked that we could deploy once, then clone environments and use a cookie-cutter strategy to roll out further environments in no time at all. Finally, we thought AWS could help us use internal resources in a more agile way. With hardware deployments, people tend to get locked into processes with lengthy idle times while they wait for hardware to be delivered. We wanted to be able to set up environments quickly, complete tasks, and then move on.”

Symsoft needed to find a client that was willing to be the first to take on a deployment of its SMSC messaging product via the cloud, and found one in Stour Marine, a U.K. MNO. For this deployment, Symsoft uses Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) instances to host its telecommunications platform and Amazon Relational Database Service (Amazon RDS) as a replacement for its embedded database. These run across multiple Availability Zones to ensure high uptime. All incoming or outgoing traffic goes through virtual private networks either from the customer’s site or from Symsoft’s own helpdesk environment for support. As it adds customers, the communications company will use Amazon Machine Images to take snapshots of the standard configuration, eliminating the time needed to deploy new environments.

Qvarsell says the main benefit of using AWS is that developers now have a much more agile environment, one which allows greater freedom to innovate. “It’s great to see how engineers can work unhindered in AWS,” he says. “They can make changes to code and see it running right away. Before, they might look at a potential change and realize they had to wait a week to see it in action, so they didn’t bother. Now it’s a case of, ‘let’s see what happens if I do this.’ There’s a much lower risk of failure.”

Normally for Symsoft, around 30 percent of any project would be taken up by hardware deployment and configuration. Qvarsell says, “We’ve practically eliminated the time-consuming tasks related to hardware deployment. This means we can reduce lead times for projects by 30 percent. Our clients are very happy.”

Symsoft has also been able to lower costs with AWS, and it can pass these savings on to customers. “Using AWS allows us to target completely new segments of the market,” says Qvarsell. “Hardware and its associated costs can be prohibitive in some cases, and many customers are looking to shift their money away from capital toward operating expenditure, so a deployment on AWS provides a perfect fit for our customers’ needs.”

Further advantages for Symsoft are high availability and robust security. “There was some skepticism internally about whether the public cloud is secure enough for these applications,” says Qvarsell, “but we were able to prove that AWS offers security that’s just as rigid as what we require for all of our most demanding clients.”

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