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XL Axiata Transforms into a Cloud-First Telco with AWS

2021

People-First Approach to Digital Transformation

Digital transformation is just as much about people as it is about technology. What good is cutting-edge IT if employees don’t know how—or are scared—to use it?


“When organizations enact a massive change in digital strategy, you need to onboard everyone from the top down as your first priority,” says Yessie Yosetya, director and chief strategic transformation & IT officer at XL Axiata. “People are reluctant to change when faced with the unknown. But when you equip them with skills and information, the whole organization benefits.”

XL Axiata is Indonesia’s second-largest telecommunications provider, with more than 56 million subscribers. The telco is reimagining its business model and work processes to become cloud-first. XL Axiata’s vision is to emerge as the No. 1 converged player in the local market with the highest net promoter score (NPS). Reducing costs, promoting innovation, and accelerating time-to-market are among its goals for achieving peak customer satisfaction.
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AWS is helping us create a foundation to realize our digital transformation with an optimized cloud infrastructure.”

Yessie Yosetya
Director and Chief Strategic Transformation & IT Officer, XL Axiata

Establishing a Cloud Center of Excellence

XL Axiata chose Amazon Web Services (AWS) to help establish its Cloud Center of Excellence (CCoE), a program designed to initiate its employees into cloud operations. For a traditional business running from its own data center for more than 20 years, there’s a lot to learn. “AWS is helping us create a foundation to realize our digital transformation with an optimized cloud infrastructure. This includes examining our current processes and mapping them to best practices in line with our vision,” Yessie says.

The focus of the CCoE is to empower teams across the organization to own their projects and become change agents for modern telco operations. Security and privacy by design are key principles in the new approach to business. One of the first tasks of the CCoE was to set up an AWS Landing Zone, which provides a baseline environment for identity and access management, governance, and data security.

XL Axiata is currently running over 70 initiatives with more than 100 smaller projects. Its security team comprises just 10 members, while the telco employs about 80 developers. “With so many simultaneous projects and a small security team, a security mindset needs to be embedded in developers at the start of coding,” explains Yessie.

Reducing Provisioning Time for Mission-Critical Workloads

Provisioning resources, even for XL Axiata’s mission-critical workloads such as SAP, often took 6–8 weeks in the data center. On AWS, provisioning is accomplished in a matter of hours, or 1–2 days for large projects.

“Our development and innovation cycles are much faster now because there are so many tools available at our fingertips. Previously, we had to think about configuration and how best to accomplish every single step; on AWS, everything is already set up and we have the right service for each use case,” says Yessie.

Right-Sizing Instances for Cost Savings

XL Axiata is now running SAP S/4HANA on AWS, and has found resource provisioning much more straightforward on the AWS Cloud. “Right-sizing instances on AWS is like choosing a T-shirt; you’ve got small, medium, large … all the templates are there, so it’s easier and faster to adopt than in the data center,” explains Yessie.

Like many of its industry peers, XL Axiata used to overprovision its on-premises infrastructure to ensure availability for its customers because avoiding downtime and outages is a top priority for telcos. This approach was safe but led to resource waste and higher costs. “On AWS, we no longer need to overprovision our compute capacity; we can simply pay for what we need,” says Yessie.

The telco estimates a 30 percent cost saving on AWS by the time it completes its full migration in 2022. In addition to right-sizing instances, XL Axiata is also planning to use Amazon Elastic Cloud Compute (Amazon EC2) Reserved Instances, Savings Plan, and Amazon EC2 Spot Instances to save costs.

Scaling Faster with Microservices and Kubernetes

Scaling is also much quicker on the AWS Cloud, about twice as fast as on premises. The transition from a monolith to microservices architecture with containers has given XL Axiata greater agility to quickly respond to new opportunities. The company is now using Amazon Elastic Kubernetes Service (Amazon EKS) for container orchestration across its technology stack.

A microservices approach has also led to easier third-party integrations through open application programming interfaces (APIs). Since it began its 3-year migration journey with AWS in 2019, XL Axiata has performed more than 100 API integrations with partners including banks and content developers. “When you dive into this new digital economy, there’s a movement from ‘me’ to ‘we’. Everything is done through collaborations, which require opening up communication with partners through APIs,” Yessie comments.

Support for Optimization Now and in the Future

Shortly after beginning its AWS Cloud migration journey, XL Axiata subscribed to AWS Enterprise Support for expert advice on architecture and how to control costs as it scales. “One thing that really differentiates AWS is their support and their intention to make us successful. They’re continually discussing with us on how to optimize our software and configurations,” says Yessie.

In addition, XL Axiata’s Human Capital People Development department have engaged AWS Training and Certification to equip its employees with the necessary cloud skills and knowledge. For XL Axiata, upskilling its employees is a key step in its digital transformation journey. As of August 2021, over 500 employees have been trained, with hundreds more employees expected to take advantage of training. Yessie says, “Upskilling enables XL Axiata to accelerate our digital transformation. The training provided by AWS is helping our employees build their knowledge and skills to implement and improve strategic cloud projects.”

Next up, XL Axiata is building a hybrid data lake and implementing analytics to drive personalized insights. Data is also powering hyperautomation, which is doubling productivity through the automation of tasks, such as system monitoring using artificial intelligence bots. XL Axiata envisions running zero-touch operations to eliminate rote manual tasks and redirect human resources to higher value-added touchpoints, starting with 12 of its 94 artificial intelligence/machine learning identified use cases in 2021.

The telco has already revamped its mobile app to be more user friendly and continues to brainstorm new ways to “give the power back to the consumer”, enabling them to choose their preferred place, time, and method of interacting with the business. AWS is helping facilitate this omnichannel approach.

Yessie concludes, “Our modern approach on the backend and interacting with customers on the front end is already making a difference, and customers appreciate how we can now give them more digital, personalized alternatives.”

Learn More

To learn more, visit aws.amazon.com/telecom.


About XL Axiata

XL Axiata is Indonesia’s second-largest mobile telecommunications provider, with more than 56 million subscribers. Its vision is to become the No. 1 converged player with a digital, cloud-first strategy.

Benefits of AWS

  • Maps current processes to cloud best practices
  • Reduces provisioning time from 6–8 weeks to 2 days or less
  • Lowers operating costs by 30%
  • Reduces resource waste by right-sizing instances
  • Scales up to 2x faster than on premises
  • Facilitates more than 100 API integrations in 2 years
  • Receives ongoing support for optimizing infrastructure

AWS Services Used

AWS Landing Zone

AWS Landing Zone is a solution that helps customers more quickly set up a secure, multi-account AWS environment based on AWS best practices. With the large number of design choices, setting up a multi-account environment can take a significant amount of time, involve the configuration of multiple accounts and services, and require a deep understanding of AWS services.

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SAP S/4HANA on AWS

Amazon Web Services (AWS) and SAP have worked together closely to certify the AWS platform so that companies of all sizes can fully realize all the benefits of the SAP HANA in-memory computing platform on AWS.

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Amazon Elastic Kubernetes Service

Amazon Elastic Kubernetes Service (Amazon EKS) gives you the flexibility to start, run, and scale Kubernetes applications in the AWS Cloud or on-premises.

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