A fast growing enterprise will be faced with the constant challenge of unfailingly predicting and meeting soaring customer demands every time, even as it struggles to find its own way to the top. Responsiveness and scalability are keys to making this possible. EPRS, is one such growing company that attained high scalability with Cloud to accelerate its growth journey.
EPRSS Prepaid Recharge Services India started operations 10 years ago. The company offers over 40 consumer services such as prepaid mobile and DTH recharges, remittances, bill payments, travel, insurance and financial service electronically to SMEs and entrepreneurs all over India at their retail points. EPRS aggregates and distributes these services from multiple suppliers on to a single platform and seamlessly extends them to its distributors across thousands of towns in India on a prepaid model.
In a short span of time, EPRS was expanding exponentially. The company has doubled in size in the last two and half years. Today, EPRS has over 100,000 active B2B customers in India and reaches over 300,000 end customers daily through this network.
Scalability was the need of the hour
To maintain the growth momentum, the company needed to cost effectively scale its infrastructure to keep pace with its rapidly growing customer base. It needed infrastructure solutions that are highly scalable to meet the unpredictable customer demand and highly secure to avoid data theft.
“Further, demand for our service is unpredictable as we witness a drastic increase in online recharges during events such as the ICC Cricket World Cup or elections. During such events, the demand increases up to three times. In a traditional dedicated infrastructure environment, we would have to predict hardware requirements for such occasions, which can be very difficult,” says, Anil Chadda, Vice President-Technology, EPRS. Autoscaling with AWS proved to be the best way to address this.
Traditional set up was slow
The company started with AWS early as it was driven by the need to scale seamlessly, without causing disruptions to day to day operations. “Today we are 100 percent built using AWS cloud services and run on AWS platform,” mentions Chadda.
Prior to moving to AWS, EPRS was on a traditional Web Host wherein it had to requisition servers and configure and monitor them continuously. In case they needed extra Disk Space/RAM or the CPU was to be upgraded, and had to request their Web Host to do so. As the servers were physical servers, the upgrade process was slow and painful. “If we needed a new server to be added to our network, it would take 2-3 days before it could be utilized for production,” adds, Chadda.
The company has a lot of peaks and troughs in its business due to events such as IPL, ICC Cricket World Cup and General Elections. Earlier, it had to oversize its physical servers to survive the peaks, which caused our hosting bills to go through the roof.
Finding the right fit
EPRS needed a web service provider that could allow the company to quickly grow its network for hours/days and then scale it down easily through a web console. Last but not the least, it needed to keep the operation cost under control.
“We formulated a cloud strategy in January 2009 and gradually completed the transition to AWS by December 2009. We evaluated cloud vendors based on their track record of operation performance, the types of services they provide and flexibilities. AWS being the leader in cloud computing with almost a decade of experience and its constant innovation is the trusted platform of choice for us,” elaborates Chadda.
Today the company is 100 percent on AWS. Amazon Virtual Private Cloud (VPC), Amazon Simple Queue Service (SQS), Amazon Simple Notification Service (SNS), Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2), AWS elastic load balancing and Amazon CloudWatch are some of the AWS services it has deployed.
“We use Amazon VPC as it allows us to retain the same IP when we switch the server on and off. We have moved almost all of our instances to VPC. We use the SDK behind Amazon CloudWatch to query the health of our services. From 9 AM to 9 PM, one of our team members keeps a watch on the string of transactions on our systems and if there is any issue with a transaction, he immediately checks on Amazon CloudWatch and rectifies it,” reveals Chadda. Alarms are set up for the duration when the team member is not physically monitoring the string.
In addition, EPRS is in the process of starting Big Data Analytics and plan to have an initial model over next couple months. It hold close to 2 terabytes of archived snapshots. It runs 250– 300 gigabytes of data on its live Amazon Relational Database Service. All of EPRS servers are designed to handle 400 gigabytes of data. “We want to bring all this data to Amazon Redshift and use that with a business intelligence front-end application such as JasperSoft, where all the internal and external entities of the system can derive reports to analyse the health of the business by mining specific data with no technical intervention,” adds, Chadda.
Moving to AWS helped EPRS manage costs better, eliminating the capital expenditure and keeping the operation expenditure flexible owing to the AWS’ pay as you go model. “Our operational expenses are further reduced as now we require less than half the manpower for running a network of over 60 servers and more than 50 services. AWS gives us a competitive advantage over competition as among other vendors, most are on traditional dedicated environment and very few are on the cloud,” Chadda reveals. The company now has a very high uptime owing to the high reliability of AWS platform. Chadda believes that this is one of the reasons why its customers prefer EPRS over its competitors.
It can now focus on the business needs instead of doing heavy lifting on the backend, enabling innovation and agility.