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How Virta Uses AWS to Help EV Charging Businesses Expand Globally

“New customers often ask where our servers are. When we mention we run on AWS, they’re happy. Having the AWS capability to decide where the data is located helps, too, because customers ask whether their data is located inside the EU to comply with data privacy regulations.”

Jussi Ahtikari
Chief technology officer at Virta

Virta, an electric mobility company in Finland, uses AWS to expand its global network of EV charging stations, helping over 1,000 EV charging businesses grow fast and operate sustainably.

Want to start an electric vehicle (EV) charging business from scratch? Using solutions from Virta, an electric mobility company based in Finland, companies of any size can instantly access a global network of EV charging stations. Hotels, retailers, and operators of parking spaces and petrol stations around the world use Virta’s solution to provide EV charging services for their customers and expand the scope of their core business into EV charging.

Virta simplifies EV charging for companies and their driving customers. EV charging businesses manage their EV charging station network through Virta’s software-as-a-service solution. They offer their EV driving customers Virta services under their own brand, including a mobile app for finding and using EV charging stations.

The popularity of Virta solutions has led to exponential growth year over year since the company was founded in 2013. Just 3 years later, Virta’s on-premises infrastructure couldn’t scale fast enough. Operating from a single data center also made growth risky. One issue could bring down Virta’s services, preventing customers from using them.

By migrating to Amazon Web Services (AWS), Virta achieved the reliability and fast, simple, and secure scalability to expand EV charging stations globally and make them accessible to far more customers. It also can optimize infrastructure to operate more sustainably.

Making a Renewable Energy Infrastructure Globally Accessible on AWS

Businesses use Virta’s integrated one-stop-shop charging solution that covers the entire EV charging value chain. They use the solution to quickly and cost-effectively launch, scale, and operate an EV charging business or value-added service. Virta is used by more than 1,000 companies and organizations in industries such as retail, hotel, parking, energy, and more. These customers operate over 100,000 chargers in 35 countries, forming the Powered by Virta network.

By tapping into Virta’s network of EV charging stations, businesses can grow rapidly. One of Virta’s oldest customers outside Finland, an EV charging business founded at the same time as Virta, started with just one charging station. Today, it’s one of the biggest EV charging operators in Switzerland. “The company grew with us, using our technology that runs on AWS,” says Jussi Ahtikari, chief technology officer at Virta. “It started from zero but has made a huge impact on climate change and sustainability by growing a nationwide EV charging network on our solution.”

Using the Virta mobile app on AWS, EV drivers can locate and navigate to any Powered by Virta station as well as to 500,000 roaming stations in more than 65 countries. They can also use it to view the charging costs of each station and pay. Drivers no longer have to download a different app to charge their car, even at a station outside their network, making EV charging more convenient.

Because Virta doesn’t have to manage its backend on AWS, it needs only three people to manage its solutions, compared with 30 people otherwise. “It ties up a lot of people to just maintain the system,” says Ahtikari. “Having managed services has freed up a lot of our time to do software development.”

Virta devotes that time to innovating renewable energy infrastructure, of which batteries in EV cars are a major component. By 2030, EV car batteries will represent up to 90 percent of the total battery storage capacity in Europe, Virta estimates.

Thus, Virta is using EV charging networks to help optimize the renewable energy market. For example, if the load is too high on the electric energy grid, Virta can lower the charging power at its EV charging stations or even feed electricity from car batteries back to the grid. On AWS, Virta has the speed to meet stringent load capacity requirements in global markets. In some cases, the company has 5 seconds to drop the charging power of 10,000 charging stations after a notification from the utility.

Facilitating Sustainable Operations on AWS Amid Exponential Growth

Since Virta was founded, it has seen higher-than-average market growth every year, with 114 percent revenue growth in 2022 and the same projected for 2023. The company expects that new EU regulations to bolster EV charging infrastructure will further accelerate growth, increasing the amount of energy that flows through its solution by six or seven times by 2025.

On AWS, Virta has been able to scale to meet that growth while making a name for itself as a sustainable company. It uses the Customer Carbon Footprint Tool through the AWS Billing Console to track and meet its sustainability goals; the company used the AWS tool to create and release its first sustainability report in 2023. In 2022, EcoVadis, a sustainability rating, placed Virta in the ninety-first percentile of all the companies it assessed.

Contributing to sustainable operations is Virta’s ability to scale up and down and optimize the types of servers it uses on AWS. “On AWS, we can switch instance types on the fly and choose from many instance types to find the right fit for specific purposes,” says Artem Kajalainen, lead infrastructure engineer at Virta. “The elasticity we have in scaling up and down means we save cost, but more important, energy.” Virta also automatically scales on AWS to spin up new charging station operations quickly.

Virta realizes cost savings of 15–20 percent by running 70–80 percent of workloads on Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) Spot Instances, which gives its team the ability to take advantage of unused Amazon EC2 capacity in the AWS Cloud at up to 90 percent off compared with On-Demand prices.

Virta satisfies customers’ security concerns by running on AWS in Ireland. “New customers often ask where our servers are,” says Ahtikari. “When we mention we run on AWS, they’re happy. Having the AWS capability to decide where the data is located helps, too, because customers ask whether their data is located inside the EU to comply with data privacy regulations.”

Being Well Prepared for Growth on AWS

Virta plans to pursue global expansion to other AWS Regions. It will further integrate energy systems, using AWS security services to protect the growing network of EV charging stations. The company also is experimenting with artificial intelligence and machine learning on AWS to automate communication between drivers, EV charging businesses, and Virta as the network continues to grow.

“It’s not easy for any company to grow as fast as we are growing,” says Ahtikari. “We face challenges every day, but they’re exciting challenges. It’s simple to scale on AWS, and bigger companies than us run on AWS without problems. We’re not worried about growth because we know that AWS can keep up.”

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