Amazon RDS liberates us from time-consuming database admin, so we have more time to do what we do best: R&D. It really helps us focus on innovation.
Arda Ahmet Ünsal Senior Software Engineer

Vestel Elektronik is a consumer electronics group based in Turkey. It consists of 25 subsidiaries that specialize in a range of markets, including sales and marketing, manufacturing, and satellite services. The company was founded in 1984, and in 2005 it launched Vestek, a research and development (R&D) subsidiary. Vestek focuses on developing innovations such as the Vestel Smart Home platform, through which users control their home appliances, and its Vestel Smart TV portal, which allows customers to stream live content including music, videos, and movies over the internet. 

The firm’s existing infrastructure was expensive and time-consuming to manage. The servers supporting the Smart TV portal were hosted by one provider, while its disaster recovery (DR) setup resided with a separate provider. Managing this took the organization’s engineers away from their core task of developing products and services. “Being an R&D outfit, our team of engineers should be focusing on innovation rather than running our IT infrastructure,” says Arda Ahmet Ünsal, senior software engineer at Vestel Elektronik. “We wanted to migrate to the cloud in order to reduce the IT burden and give us more time to develop our services. Reducing costs and speeding time to market were also major drivers for us.”

Vestel Smart TV is delivered to consumers in more than 30 countries, and because the portal’s main customer base is in Europe, Vestek is bound by European Union (EU) regulations. “To comply with these regulations,” says Ünsal, “we had to move our database servers from Istanbul, Turkey, to within the EU.” The company also wanted to reduce latency, giving customers faster access to content and improving their experience. And because it would conduct the deployment in-house, speed and ease of migration were key.

Although it looked at other providers, Vestek chose Amazon Web Services (AWS) to run its Vestel Smart TV portal due to the cloud provider’s reputation in the market, as well as the availability of servers based in Europe. “We use a lot of Microsoft software,” says Ünsal, “so another reason we opted for AWS was because it’s easy to integrate other technologies.”

The Vestek architecture, located in the EU (Ireland) Region, consists of Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) servers with Elastic Load Balancing to distribute application traffic across instances. Logs are stored in Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3) and Amazon Route 53 provides domain name system (DNS) routing. The fully managed Amazon Relational Database Service (Amazon RDS) takes care of database administration such as backup and patching procedures. Vestek makes use of multiple Availability Zones (AZs) to ensure data is secure in the event of an infrastructure failure.

Below is an illustration of the Vestek architecture on AWS:

Vestel-arch

“The process of migrating to AWS was extremely easy,” says Ünsal. “We launched the servers and deployed our applications in one week, and after a period of testing we were fully operational on AWS. Just buying the hardware would take longer than this if we were doing it on premises, and the whole process would have taken months. Using AWS, it took a matter of days to deploy servers.”

In addition to the fast setup, AWS is enabling Vestek to improve customer experience. “Our AWS infrastructure allows us to take action fast when we get requests from customers,” says Ünsal. “For example, we can quickly launch new servers for customers. It takes just a few days to provision a fully operational server with AWS, whereas before it would take us weeks to fulfil a customer’s request.”

He continues, “Users across Europe have also seen an improvement in the Vestek Smart TV service due to the reduced latency that we’re experiencing by being based in Ireland as opposed to Istanbul. Our servers are closer to our European customers, and the network experience is so much better as a result. We estimate that latency has been cut by around 20 percent.” Locating its IT architecture in Ireland has the additional, and equally significant, benefit of enabling Vestek to comply with EU regulations, which stipulate that data must reside within the EU.

Since migrating to the cloud, the effect on the team’s daily operations has been considerable. The management burden of running six servers has been lifted, with Vestek now requiring only two physical servers. “We’re able to support our server infrastructure with just one or two engineers, but before AWS this was the job of around four or five engineers,” says Ünsal.

Operations have also been simplified because the firm now just deals with AWS, whereas before it had to coordinate with its main data center provider as well as its DR supplier. “Our server costs and maintenance time have both been reduced with AWS,” says Ünsal. Plus, the managed nature of its AWS architecture is freeing up more of the Vestek team’s day for core work. “Amazon RDS liberates us from time-consuming database admin, so we have more time to do what we do best: R&D. It really helps us focus on innovation.”

Looking forward, Vestek is hoping to use Amazon CloudFront to distribute content. This will further reduce latency, thus improving the customer experience and reducing data transfer costs. It’s also seeking to migrate its developer environment to the cloud to increase testing agility.

Learn more about running digital media on AWS.