About Browan Communications
Founded in 2002, Taiwan-headquartered Browan Communications uses an international network of branch offices and distributors to sell wireless broadband products and services to clients worldwide. The company, a subsidiary of Gemtek Technology Co. Ltd, uses resources from its parent company to manufacture some of the hardware required for its products. Browan employs 130 employees for research, development, sales and marketing.
Browan provides a unified communication application known as FreePP for smartphones and tablets. The company wanted to bring new products to market and establish new revenue streams quickly. They planned to expand the voice-over-IP (VoIP) and instant messaging features for FreePP. In addition, Browan planned to launch two new products: a video monitoring and cloud-based video recording service called IPCam as well as a home automation service to control electronics.
At the time, the company was using co-located hardware at third-party data centers in Taiwan and China. To meet its goals, the company would have to purchase 35 new servers using this infrastructure — an expensive proposition. “We realized that the existing infrastructure couldn’t scale cost-effectively or support plans for expanding our product line,” says Marty Chao, Product Division Head for Browan Communications. “At that point, we began looking for other options.”
Why Amazon Web Services
After reviewing available third-party hosting providers, Browan determined that the Amazon Web Services (AWS) Cloud was the most mature service available and best met its requirements. “Other solutions would have required us to modify a large component of the FreePP service to run effectively in its cloud environment, so adopting AWS was an easy decision,” says Chao.
FreePP is a free VoIP and multimedia SMS application that runs on most mobile operating systems. A user connected to the Internet can use the service for one-to-one or one-to-many voice calls, texts, picture sharing and messages with other FreePP users worldwide.
The company’s environment runs on six Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) instances, relying on Elastic Load Balancing to distribute traffic across the instances. Browan provisioned an Amazon Virtual Private Cloud (Amazon VPC) in the AWS US East (Northern Virginia) Region. Core Application Services (CAS) that regulate logins, calls and messages and Application Programming Interface (API) functions run in an Auto Scaling group on two Amazon EC2 instances.
Each CAS/API Amazon EC2 instance runs in a different Availability Zone for redundancy. The CAS/API instances also connect to Amazon CloudFront to distribute content to users in several markets and to Amazon Route 53 for domain name services.
A single Amazon EC2 instance operates a Message Exchange Center (MEC) to provide message exchange application services. When a customer initiates a call through FreePP, the MEC notifies or “wakes up” the app of the person receiving the call.
Another Amazon EC2 instance runs MQ Telemetry Transport (MQTT) – a lightweight messaging protocol designed for constrained devices and low-bandwidth, high latency and unreliable networks – to support long distance connections for Android devices.
From the Amazon VPC, Browan uses an Internet gateway to connect to an outbound server in its data center and from there to a public switched telephone network. This enables Browan to authenticate the phone numbers of FreePP users. Two Amazon EC2 instances running a relay server and another MQTT in the AWS EU (Ireland) Region directs requests from European users back to the environment in the US East (Northern Virginia) Region connects for processing.
To manage application and reporting data, Browan uses Amazon Relational Database Service (Amazon RDS) for online access to its MySQL database. The master database is replicated synchronously to a slave RDS database in a second Availability Zone for redundancy. Amazon ElastiCache provides rapid access to the cached application and reporting data. Amazon CloudWatch monitors the performance and availability of the FreePP environment and provisions more resources when needed. Figure 1 demonstrates Browan’s environment on AWS.
Figure 1. Browan Communications FreePP architecture on AWS
Browan Communications runs all components of the FreePP application in the AWS Cloud. The skill of our in-house IT staff and the ease with which they could transition products and services to AWS made migrating the FreePP service a straightforward process,” says Chao. “Anecdotal evidence from social media indicates users are enjoying a superior experience.”
Running on AWS Cloud allowed Browan to reduce its hardware maintenance requirements while providing low cost but high quality connectivity for users. The company shut down 24 servers in its co-location facilities and avoided a $140,000 hardware investment by not having to purchase 35 new ones.
Previously, Browan had to contend with low utilization and subsequently poor return on investment (ROI) of individual physical servers. It would take two to three weeks to upgrade CPU or memory resources of individual physical servers. “Now we can spin up new servers in minutes instead of having to wait several weeks to acquire new servers — and we scale capacity for development, testing, and production as needed,” says Chao. “Migrating to AWS reduces our time to market for new products by eight weeks and enables us to make rapid adjustments to the infrastructure to meet changes in business demand.”
Browan also takes advantage of AWS Support, Developer-level. Chao comments, “We’ve received rapid, extremely useful responses from the AWS support team to our queries. In particular, we used AWS Support for advice when we resized Amazon RDS to meet our requirements.”
After completing the FreePP migration, Browan started developing and testing its IPCam and home automation products on AWS. “AWS has supported the projects by providing documentation and guidelines to optimize the performance and availability of the service within the cloud infrastructure,” says Chao.