Giffgaff migrates entire IT infrastructure to the cloud

(Image credit: Shutterstock / Blackboard)

Giffgaff has become the first Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO) to fully migrate its infrastructure and development operations to Amazon Web Services (AWS).

As an MVNO, Giffgaff does not operate a radio network. Instead, it uses O2 as a host network and innovates elsewhere, most notably on customer service, community, and price.

Giffgaff’s slogan is the ‘mobile network run by you’, which reflects the fact that its customers are known as ‘members’ who provide the large bulk of customer service in exchange for airtime rewards.

Gifgaff AWS

The migration will be completed by the end of 2020 but the company says the shift has already driven efficiency, agility and innovation, outcomes which have enhanced the level of service it can deliver to customers.

Specifically, Gifgaff says AWS has already accelerated the development and rollout of new services and driven innovation. The number of feature releases has increased from up to 12 times a year with on-premise infrastructure to more than 9,000 times on cloud. Meanwhile, engineers and developers have more time to focus on projects that drive genuine business change.

In total, Giffgaff will use 60 AWS services, including compute, analytics, storage, databases, containers and machine learning.

The overall ambition of the project is to become a data-driven organisation that uses machine learning to increase customer loyalty. By aggregating and analysing data, it is hoped that Giffgaff will automatically be able to identify network issues and increase personalisation.

“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 Steve MacDonald, Chief Operating and Technical Officer at Giffgaff.

“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. The process of constantly evolving our software means that we can always deliver an award-winning service to our members. Our plan now is to extend the use of AWS, and make our members’ voices serve as one of the primary data sources for business decision making.”

Steve McCaskill is TechRadar Pro's resident mobile industry expert, covering all aspects of the UK and global news, from operators to service providers and everything in between. He is a former editor of Silicon UK and journalist with over a decade's experience in the technology industry, writing about technology, in particular, telecoms, mobile and sports tech, sports, video games and media.