Writer Business Services

Writer Safeguard Achieves 99.999% Availability with Cash Management Solution on AWS


Moving Cash among More Than 50,000 Customer Endpoints

Based in Mumbai, Writer Business Services offers cash management, relocation, realty, and information management to banks and commercial enterprises. In 2001, the company launched Writer Safeguard, its cash management business that offers services such as ATM management, retail cash management, and solutions to optimize the amount of currency in circulation. It is India’s only full-service cash management company, offering a range of end-to-end ATM and currency lifecycle solutions.

As of July 2020, India was home to 210,000 ATMs, a figure that is expected to double by the end of 2021. This equates to a lot of cash that needs to be moved around the country. With strict adherence to risk management systems, Writer Safeguard facilitates the secure movement of cash among more than 50,000 customer endpoints, half of which are ATMs.

Writer Business Services

Moving to AWS has given us a lot of flexibility for our research and engineering teams to experiment with new business solutions and technologies, because they are no longer restricted by infrastructure parameters.”

Swapnil Bagul
Chief Technology Officer, Writer Safeguard

Flexibility to Experiment with Pay-per-Use Cost Model

Writer Safeguard was operating its Core Banking Solution (CBS), an application encompassing end-to-end cash management activities, out of a colocation data center. However, the company was having trouble scaling at its desired speed. Each time it needed an upgrade for storage or memory, Writer Safeguard had to make a capital investment, which was a lengthy process with multiple levels of approval. When the company’s chief financial officer adopted an asset-light operating model, Writer Safeguard elected to migrate CBS to the cloud to take advantage of pay-as-you-go pricing.

The technology team did a TCO calculation comparing cloud providers and decided to migrate to Amazon Web Services (AWS). The flexibility, level of automation, and modern application services available out of the box with AWS were deciding factors. The team also calculated the five-year TCO of remaining in the colocation environment. With AWS, Writer Safeguard estimated a total savings of $20,500.

“Moving to AWS has given us a lot of flexibility for our research and engineering teams to experiment with new business solutions and technologies, because they are no longer restricted by infrastructure parameters,” says Swapnil Bagul, chief technology officer at Writer Safeguard.

Efficient Storage and Automated Scaling

As part of its risk management system, Writer Safeguard employees who handle cash take photos of delivery receipts, reports, and ATM slips using their smartphones. Each day, they generate 80,000 high-resolution images. These were formerly stored in a proprietary database at the data center, with storage volumes and memory requirements rapidly multiplying. By using Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3), Writer Safeguard has access to low-cost, unlimited storage with the click of a button. The company is also using Amazon Elastic Block Store (Amazon EBS) to store 36 TB of application and system data as well as backups.

Cost and time savings have likewise resulted from increased automation. Engineers have developed automation scripts using AWS Lambda to scale instances according to business demand, so the company only pays for resources consumed. During the COVID-19 pandemic, when business levels dropped, Writer Safeguard was able to scale down and reduce its infrastructure costs by 40 percent over two consecutive quarters, a feat that would not have been possible in the colocation environment.

High Availability by Deploying to Multiple Availability Zones

By taking advantage of Multi-AZ deployments for its database management systems, Writer Safeguard has streamlined disaster recovery (DR). Prior to its AWS Cloud migration, the company maintained a DR site separate from its primary colocation site. The need for always-on DR infrastructure capable of syncing in near-real time with its primary site led engineers to also maintain a high-availability (HA) environment within the colocation data center. This ensured system uptime regardless of network latency, and mitigated physical risk across primary and DR sites. However, the complex DR and HA setup meant that Writer Safeguard engineers had to manage a total of three separate environments.

With AWS, engineers are managing just one production environment with two Availability Zones. Writer Safeguard has designated one zone as a primary site and the other as an HA environment. Availability Zones are connected via the high-bandwidth, low-latency network on AWS, which supports active-active failover architecture. The result: enhanced availability and durability.

“Our business services have reported improved uptime on AWS, averaging 99.999 percent,” Bagul says. “When our primary database has an issue, we can immediately switch to our mirrored database to achieve real-time DR. We achieve high availability using only two zones and we don’t have to look for a third DR alternative.”

Reducing Manual Efforts and Processing Time

With its primary customers in financial services, Writer Safeguard promotes a high level of security and constant threat monitoring. It uses Amazon CloudWatch to automate security monitoring as well as application availability. Engineers who used to manually monitor systems now have more time to spend on experimentation and analytics activities with vendor partners who are also using AWS. Bagul says, “The advantage of having our infrastructure hosted on the AWS Cloud is the ability to collect data at different touchpoints in the business process and make it available to multiple internal systems or partners.”

In one example, Writer Safeguard redesigned its software for a business process automation project to take advantage of AWS cloud-native batch processing capabilities. The project had high compute and memory requirements, and engineers were able to bring down the transaction processing time from 180 seconds to less than 5 seconds.

Improving Customer Satisfaction with New Tools

Engineers are now experimenting with machine-learning applications, carrying out trials using Amazon Textract to enhance data extraction from the ATM slips and reports its employees capture and generate every day. Writer Safeguard is also exploring the use of Amazon Pinpoint to send one-time passwords via SMS that are used to open ATM vaults.

“Our R&D team benefits from the huge range of infrastructure and technologies available on the fly from AWS,” says Bagul. “We have data and processing tools at our fingertips, which improves our time-to-market and contributes to a positive experience for our internal and external customers. If our internal customers are happy, the service delivered to our external customers definitely improves.”

To Learn More

About Writer Business Services

Writer Business Services is an Indian company that provides cash management, information management, realty, and relocation services. Writer Safeguard, its cash management division, is its largest vertical, facilitating the secure movement of cash across more than 50,000 endpoints.

Benefits of AWS

  • Improves system uptime to 99.999%
  • Reduces TCO by $20,500 over 5 years
  • Automates monitoring of security and availability
  • Scales down infrastructure to save 40% during low-demand periods
  • Streamlines data recovery, from 3 production environments to 1
  • Reduces transaction processing time from 180 seconds to less than 5 seconds
  • Increases storage efficiency with low-cost, unlimited storage

AWS Services Used

Amazon CloudWatch

Amazon CloudWatch is a monitoring and observability service built for DevOps engineers, developers, site reliability engineers (SREs), and IT managers. CloudWatch provides you with data and actionable insights to monitor your applications, respond to system-wide performance changes, optimize resource utilization, and get a unified view of operational health.

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Amazon Simple Storage Service

Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3) is an object storage service that offers industry-leading scalability, data availability, security, and performance. 

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AWS Lambda

AWS Lambda is a serverless compute service that lets you run code without provisioning or managing servers, creating workload-aware cluster scaling logic, maintaining event integrations, or managing runtimes.

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Amazon Elastic Block Store

Amazon Elastic Block Store (EBS) is an easy to use, high-performance, block-storage service designed for use with Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) for both throughput and transaction intensive workloads at any scale.

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