Using AWS, we have 80% more time to spend on developing products such as our business analytics platform and 3D+ people counting, queue management, and heatmap tools.  
Esra Kayabalı Cloud Solutions Manager

V-Count is a global manufacturer and provider of visitor-tracking, queue management, heatmap, and analytics technology. The company manages 25,000 devices for more than 400 clients across 80 countries. V-Count works with some of the largest retailers in the world. Brands such as Gap, Hotpoint, Marks & Spencer, and Samsung use V-Count technology to make their businesses more profitable through real-time insight into their visitors’ behavior. Although it focuses heavily on the retail sector, the Miami-based company, with offices in Dubai and Istanbul, has recently embarked on new projects with organizations such as libraries and museums, which are increasingly taking advantage of visitor behavior data.

Having initially operated a physical IT infrastructure, V-Count was quick to see the opportunities represented by the cloud and the emergence of software-as-a-service (SaaS) business models. “We were a small company experiencing rapid growth, and we found that our on-premises setup didn’t work for us,” says Esra Kayabalı, cloud solutions manager for V-Count. “Our developers were wasting their time on system maintenance and manually scaling servers,” says Kayabalı. The company wanted to dedicate more resources to developing its product range and boosting its competitive edge. “We promise our customers a 24/7 service and we had to work around the clock to provide that,” says Kayabalı. “That left us no time to innovate and create new services.”

V-Count identified Amazon Web Services (AWS) as the cloud provider that could support the firm’s growth and give its developers access to managed services to relieve the burden of system administration. The company migrated to the AWS Cloud at the end of 2014 and did so very quickly. “It took just one hour to move our infrastructure and complete the server configuration,” says Kayabalı.

V-Count now runs its application and web servers on Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2). It uses Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3) for storing all media and log files, and it processes 100 gigabytes of data daily to the Amazon Relational Database Service (Amazon RDS). “Using Amazon RDS simplifies many difficult procedures such as maintenance, database tuning, and backups,” says Kayabalı. “When we needed to move to a larger database instance to handle growing demand, we were delighted by how easy it was. It took just 20 minutes and involved no downtime at all.” To ensure high availability, the team uses multiple Availability Zones within the AWS EU (Ireland) region, and it sets up access rights and firewall rules through Amazon Virtual Private Cloud (Amazon VPC).

Kayabalı says Amazon CloudWatch is another big timesaver for the V-Count team: “Before moving to the cloud, we had to constantly monitor our infrastructure, but with Amazon CloudWatch we don’t have to sit there and watch all the components until something looks odd or goes wrong. We simply get an alert and we act on it. It’s a much more efficient way of working, and it liberates resources from administration, giving us more time to do core development.” Kayabalı is also pleased with the instant results V-Count has realized by using Amazon CloudFront. “Loading times for our website decreased from 20 seconds to just 2 seconds,” she says. “It adds to the seamless customer experience we’re passionate about providing.”

Demirhan Büyüközcü, V-Count’s chief executive officer, says the business hasn’t looked back since migrating to AWS. “Before we moved to AWS, we had just one product: our people-counting device. Since then, we have developed a range of new devices and technologies, including our V-Count 3D+ tool, which is the first solution on the market with a 3D camera, giving customers 98 percent accuracy in people counting.”

The company is also providing advanced analytics through its business-intelligence platform. In addition to being able to track visitor behavior, retail clients can now track, for example, the impact of the weather on the profitability of their stores. Or they can determine the best times of the day, week, or month to run marketing campaigns and promotions. “Using AWS, we have 80 percent more time to spend on developing products such as our business analytics platform and 3D+ people counting, queue management, and heatmap tools,” says Kayabalı. “We couldn’t have dreamed of creating advanced functionality like this when we spent all our time maintaining the quality of IT processes.”

In addition, V-Count is gaining a competitive advantage in a market where innovation leads directly to increased sales. “By using AWS, we’ve been able to focus on releasing new services, which has boosted our revenue by 92 percent in the second half of 2017,” Büyüközcü says. It’s important to note that revenue growth isn’t purely due to new products. It’s also thanks to the highly secure environment the V-Count team has built on the AWS Cloud. “We tell our clients about AWS compliance credentials and certification, and it gives them confidence that their critical data is safe in our cloud servers,” he says. “As a result, they no longer see us as just providers of people-counting devices. They trust us to take their data and turn it into information that ultimately makes them more successful.”

For V-Count, another advantage of working in the cloud is the fast onboarding process of customers. “On physical infrastructure, you’re looking at up to seven weeks to provision and configure servers before you can give customers access to visitor-behavior analytics,” says Büyüközcü. “In contrast, onboarding in the cloud is easy. For example, a retail client can be up and running as fast as we can get our people-tracking devices installed in their stores. So taking advantage of AWS not only helps us reduce our time-to-market from weeks to days, but it gives our customers fast time-to-insight, which helps them make smart decisions that will increase their profitability.”