(A slightly different variation of this article has also appeared on BW CIOWorld’s February 2017 edition.)
Mithi’s journey to the Cloud
Collaboration software development and innovation today is moving along at an intense pace. A recent research by G2 Crowd, the world’s leading business software review platform, illustrates that the boom in corporate adoption shows no sign of slowing down in the near future. It found that more than half of all the companies have already implemented team collaboration solutions of one kind or another, and 31 percent plan to adopt one in the next two years.
Mithi Software Technologies, distinguishes itself as a provider of Email, Collaboration and Archiving solutions. The company started by building collaboration solutions on an Open Source Platform around the year 2005, to create affordable collaboration software. It saw that as a way to bring the benefits of collaboration software to a majority of the people. Although the Open Source Platform provides an affordable platform, the task of setting up and managing an email infrastructure is complicated. With the growth in the number of customers and installations, much of the companies time and resource was taken up in maintaining and managing these set-ups. Worse still, it was hard to deliver a high quality experience uniformly across all customers. The experience of the customers changed with the variations in the resources available at the customer site. Likewise, the limitations of traditional Data Centers were compromising its hosted mail service offerings.
About two years ago the company made the choice of moving to the Cloud platform to breakout from these limitations. Here is a brief recount of this journey so far.
The Cloud and AWS
Cloud services provide a platform, offering compute power, database storage, content delivery etc., working as an Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) platform, which enables companies to establish their data center in the Cloud with no investment in physical hardware or data center space.
When moving to the Cloud, Amazon Web Services (AWS) was a clear choice. Amazon has a global presence with 10 regions, 36 availability zones and more than 50 edge locations, making it a Global Leader. Gartner, the world’s leading information technology research and advisory company, placed Amazon Web Services in the “Leaders” quadrant and named AWS as having both the furthest completeness of vision and the highest ability to execute, for the 6th straight year in the 2016 Magic Quadrant for Cloud infrastructure as a service, Worldwide.
In addition, AWS has built a world class, highly secure infrastructure, both physically and over the internet. A few highlights include, data centers that are staffed 24×7 by trained security guards, and access authorized strictly on a least privileged basis; Ability to configure built-in firewall rules from totally public to completely private or somewhere in between to control access to instances.
The migration process for Mithi
Two major objectives needed to be considered before the big move:
1. The cost of Bare Metal Infrastructure at a data center is less than similar resources on Cloud, due to the highly redundant architecture used to deliver high availability and reliability. Added to this, was the high manpower cost of migrating to this platform. Therefore, it was necessary to find a way to keep the costs down so as to not result in a sharp price escalation to the customers.
2. Live services to the customers with all their data had to be migrated (email, calendar, chat history, rosters, address books etc.), with minimal disruptions to the service.
In order to do this, careful planing was carried out. The first set of migration was done in the month of May 2016 and involved a simple lift and shift operation for a small set of users. Over the next 6 months, the rest of the domains and users were migrated in a phased manner. The migration was completed by the last week of Nov 2016.
The migration involved support, infrastructure/operations and the dev teams. The support team was responsible for coordinating with the customers, helping to resolve any issues related to migration and answering their queries, while the operations team worked on the data migration. Starting with manual migration for the first batch, the team ensured that all the learning was captured in designing an automated migration process to ensure minimum downtime.
All this, while the engineering team optimized the computing and storage requirements ensuring that the costs were contained without compromise on the availability and performance of the solutions. And though the tasks related to migration for the ops and support team is over as of now, the dev team continues to work on optimizing the resource usage to deliver better performance and availability for the service.
Delivering uniform, dependable experience
As noted before, the physical business model (on premise software deployment) was part of the reason for slow deployment, uneven outcomes, accessibility challenges and lack of cost flexibility. The Cloud offered Mithi a platform to mitigate these limitations helping it deliver more convenience, better performance, cost customization, on top of better security and reliability that the company has built into its software.
The company has been serving the needs of some of India’s leading enterprises for long, delivering high outcomes under very demanding performance standards. That same software is now available on the cloud to companies of every size. Especially for the rapidly growing companies (fast growing Startups, Small and Mid Sized businesses) that want to make the best use of their resources and are conscious of both cost and productivity. The greater flexibility, reduced capital costs, improved security, dependability and faster upgrades, that the Cloud offering brings is much welcome.
Moving towards a promising future
Moving to the Cloud has enabled Mithi to bring newer and better offerings to its customers. The company recently launched Vaultastic – a cloud based email archiving and backup solution that can be used to archive mails from any mailing system and ClearStream – offering AntiSpam, AntiVirus and RansomWare protection for mail servers as well as a basic disaster recovery to ensure email service continuity in case the primary email server is inaccessible.
Mithi intends to continue with improving the convenience, flexibility and performance of their basic platform, while also building derivative products that will help businesses create more dependable and secure collaboration environments without incurring high costs.
In the works is Ideolve – a product that promises to offer a creative new way for team collaboration.