T-Mobile US needed to modernize its infrastructure to support a company-wide initiative for customer experience improvement that sought to enhance customer requests via social media.
As part of the initiative, T-Mobile moved some applications to a container-based environment that required persistent Network File System (NFS) storage. The company migrated applications from on-premises facilities to containers in the cloud in order to improve performance and accelerate application deployment as required by application teams. This process also helped meet T-Mobile’s top goals around reliability, security, and cost optimization.
The company chose the fully managed, cloud-native Amazon Elastic File System (Amazon EFS) for the NFS-based workloads of its business-critical applications. “The move by T-Mobile to Amazon EFS was prompted by a need for more flexibility for our application development teams,” says Amreth Chandrasehar, senior enterprise architect at T-Mobile.
“By using Amazon EFS, we can address storage needs on demand. This flexibility also allows us to control costs and even shift storage requests to be managed as self-service by our application teams.” Amazon EFS provides a simple, scalable file system for Linux-based workloads and can be used in the Amazon Web Services (AWS) Cloud or on premises.
Opportunity | Support Teams Show Viability of NFS Solution for Legacy Application
The company used Amazon EFS to deploy a new, modern version of a legacy application that ran on dedicated on-premises servers. The application’s architecture made it difficult to scale, requiring the purchase of additional hardware to support it and driving up costs. It also required significant time spent by internal teams to set up and configure, taking time away from more critical projects. Now, the updated version is based on a microservices architecture, which overcomes the limitations of the on-premises application. “We worked with AWS support teams and their internal experts to ensure these solutions worked for us,” says Chandrasehar. “In just months, we migrated several on-premises workloads into production in the cloud.”
“In building on AWS, we’ve been able to leverage its expertise at every step of our cloud journey,” says Darron Webb, vice president of product & technology, cloud center of excellence, T-Mobile.
Amazon EFS reduces the costs and time we spend addressing storage. It scales seamlessly no matter how many applications it’s applied to."
Senior Enterprise Architect, T-Mobile US
Solution | Storage Provisioned on Demand
The company’s migration process required transitioning applications to container-based environments. Many of these container workloads share configuration files and dependencies and have persistent storage requirements. “Amazon EFS has become part of our solution for container-based workloads, such as APIs, web servers, monitoring tools, and CI/CD solutions. AWS has done a great job creating solutions that work with Kubernetes,” says Chandrasehar. Before Amazon EFS, it took weeks to provision storage, but now the company easily scales hundreds of nodes in Kubernetes. T-Mobile uses Amazon EFS with AWS CloudFormation templates from within Kubernetes, with Amazon EFS providing more elastic storage capacity on demand, removing the need for provisioning.
When new applications that require NFS are launched, the operations team directs them to use Amazon EFS. Self-service application deployment without the need to configure storage frees application development teams to spend time on more critical issues. “This makes our life easier because we don’t have to constantly provision Amazon EFS. It’s easy for us to add Amazon EFS on the fly to workloads when needed, which means storage is provisioned on demand and through self-service,” says Chandrasehar.
By leveraging the scalability of on-demand storage provisioning, T-Mobile has reduced its execution time by roughly 10–15 percent. Amazon EFS scales on demand to petabytes without causing disruption to applications. It automatically expands and contracts as files are added and removed, so applications have the storage they need, when they need it. As a result, T-Mobile now has more durable storage capacity for the long term and no longer needs to overprovision storage to meet its needs. This has helped the company save between 40 percent and 70 percent on storage costs.
Outcome | Managed File Storage Solution Makes Migration Seamless
Amazon EFS does not require changing existing applications or tools but allows access through a standard file system interface, making integration easy. “Amazon EFS reduces the costs and time we spend addressing storage. It scales seamlessly no matter how many applications it’s applied to. That frees us to focus on critical projects rather than on launching and managing storage solutions,” says Chandrasehar.
Switching to Amazon EFS has allowed T-Mobile to increase its agility, scalability, and reliability and to lower costs and provisioning time compared to its on-premises, open source storage options. “Those previous options required a lot of operational work and technical support, and moving to Amazon EFS saved us from a lot of these tasks,” says Chandrasehar. The migration of container-based workloads and legacy applications was seamless and accomplished quickly, taking place over the course of just a few months.
T-Mobile has been able to improve the customer experience as a result of the move to Amazon EFS. Chandrasehar says, “Initially, we wanted to enhance customer requests through social media, but we have also seen improved web, retail, and care experience for our customers.” T-Mobile plans to expand its use of AWS services. “AWS continues to evolve its solutions, always adding features and trying to make its customers’ lives better,” says Webb. “We use AWS solutions as often as possible in our architecture patterns to take advantage of the tools and agility that the cloud offers.”
T-Mobile US is a telecommunications company that delivers wireless service to 83.1 million customers over its nationwide 4G LTE network. The company, whose flagship brands are T-Mobile and Metro by T-Mobile, is based in Bellevue, Washington.
AWS Services Used
Amazon Elastic File System
Amazon Elastic File System (Amazon EFS) provides a simple, scalable, fully managed elastic NFS file system for use with AWS Cloud services and on-premises resources. It is built to scale on demand to petabytes without disrupting applications, growing and shrinking automatically as you add and remove files, eliminating the need to provision and manage capacity to accommodate growth.
AWS CloudFormation provides a common language for you to model and provision AWS and third party application resources in your cloud environment. AWS CloudFormation allows you to use programming languages or a simple text file to model and provision, in an automated and secure manner, all the resources needed for your applications across all regions and accounts. This gives you a single source of truth for your AWS and third party resources.
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