Giffgaff migrating IT infrastructure and development to AWS

The UK MVNO becomes the first in Europe to be powered by Amazon’s cloud computing arm

UK mobile network operator Giffgaff has outlined plans to shift its entire IT infrastructure and operations to Amazon Web Services (AWS), completing its migration from on-premise data centres by the end of the year.

Giffgaff will opt into more than 60 of AWS' 175 cloud services, the company announced, including compute, analytics, storage, databases, containers and machine learning. In doing so, the firm will become the first European mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) to be powered by AWS in its entirety. 

The company will have shifted its IT infrastructure and application development operations to AWS by 2021, as it aims to become more capable of experimenting at pace, and speeding up a host of internal processes. The company claims to have already transformed its development lifecycle from a complex and monolithic approach to a modern, microservices-based architecture that’s enabled fast-paced development.

“We started out with a traditional, on-premises infrastructure, but the need for ongoing maintenance made this model overwhelming for our technical team. For example, it used to take us up to two weeks to provision a new server,” said chief operating and technical officer at Giffgaff, Steve MacDonald. 

“When we began to adopt AWS, we were able to turbocharge our development lifecycle by focusing on innovation rather than wasting time on maintenance. It’s such a powerful capability for a digital-native business like ours.”

While the announcement is still fresh, the firm has been partnering with AWS for some time already, using AWS analytics and machine learning services, for example, to understand members’ network experiences.

Aggregating and analysing data across all cases helped the company create an early warning system for network incidents. Prior to moving to AWS, too, it could take Giffgaff up to two weeks to provision a server, which can now be done within a matter of minutes.

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Adopting a continuous delivery approach, and moving containerised workloads to the fully managed Amazon Elastic Kubernetes Service (Amazon EKS), meanwhile, has freed up 3,000 days of engineering and development time, according to Giffgaff.

This is equivalent to refocusing up to 15 people on innovation, and has allowed them to devote more resources to creating new apps for members.

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