The Telecommunications Company
Maintaining and supporting cloud-native platforms to help in the overall transformation that led to changes in working culture and faster software development – the story of the collaboration between Grape Up and one of the Italian largest telecommunications service providers.
Telecom companies provide services that cannot be put on hold, and there is no place for downtimes. As one of the leading telecommunications service providers in Italy, the company is responsible for working 24/7. In such cases, making any changes and modernizing owned resources obligate to take into account the entire, over 30-year-old infrastructure combined with numerous databases, billing systems, and software that connects them all. What makes it more demanding, mission-critical systems cannot be rebuilt with ease.
Furthermore, the telecoms have to compete with new media (social media and communication apps) as well as disruptive startups that change the way people interact. To provide new, customer-centric experience, these established enterprises have to develop innovative features and modernize owned resources, which is extremely challenging due to the legacy infrastructure. Being in charge of the transition requires you to deeply understand this ecosystem, its ingredients, and connections between them.
As it had become obvious that the telecommunications company needed to undergo digital transformation and adopt cloud-native platforms so they could build architecture supporting the development of modern applications in the cloud, new challenges occurred. After determining cloud-native platforms and associated toolset, the company had to maintain and support a once chosen technology stack. It required a team experienced in managing a large production environment and implementing new solutions in a demanding ecosystem, and at the same time, willing to share their knowledge and encourage the customer’s teams to learn new technology.
Such conditions at the beginning of the project meant to allow the company to enable cloud-native platforms, develop modern apps and deliver new ideas to production, encouraged them to choose Grape Up as a supporting partner of their transformation.
When Grape Up joined the company in their efforts to transform the company's infrastructure, the Italian telecom needed practical knowledge in maintaining and providing future development of the commonly used cloud-native platforms, and it was the initial part of the collaboration.
The transformation that meant to rebuild infrastructure and adopt cloud tools, had to go further, including changes in the way the company develops software and manner in which customer teams operate. The customer’s teams used to work in a traditional way, utilizing a waterfall approach in software delivery, and being devoted to the practices that have been working fine through the years. Such methodologies couldn’t work when the teams using them intended to deliver apps in the cloud.
Working as external consultants responsible for platform operations and support, but at the same time helping the company with adopting new solutions, experts from Grape Up presented how to seize the capabilities of the new infrastructure by implementing DevOps. To overcome issues with prejudiced employees pursuing the old way of doing things, the Grape Up team collaborated closely with both - an internal leader devoted to transforming the company and external partners responsible for providing support in the comprehensive rebuilding of the company's culture and technology stack.
Along with encouraging the whole company to the commitment to transformation, Grape Up worked in hand with the client’s engineers, sharing technical skills and approaches that support software development. By introducing pair programming to the collaborating teams, experts from Grape Up went through the most important cases associated with maintaining cloud platforms and building software in the cloud, explaining particular examples and by doing things together rather than by showing how to do it.
When the Italian telecommunications service provider decided to collaborate with Grape Up, the cooperation meant to be focused on support in managing platforms already in production. Through the several months of supporting the client's infrastructure, the entire cloud-native stack has been fully operational and available 24/7, without any downtimes. Grape Up has configured two platforms; one dedicated to testing and the second one to production, providing the customer’s teams with a resilient environment so they could build software without distractions. Through two years of developing cloud-native apps on that infrastructure, the customer built hundreds of microservices, over 500 applications in the production environment, and over 1000 apps on the testing platform.
Experts from Grape Up ensured a reliable and scalable ecosystem for the client’s teams. To utilize capabilities of the entire cloud-native stack, the Grape Up team was included in works focused on improving the way the cache layer communicates with new applications, and how this system uses databases and various tools covered by thy layer. That led to delivering numerous apps and features that couldn’t be developed without improvement in the way all those technologies work and communicate.
The company went through an impressive yet demanding transformation, starting with cloud-native platform enablement and leading to an overall shift from a monolith architecture to working in an agile methodology and aiming to build a DevOps culture. As the beginnings were challenging due to the differences in communication, used ways of developing software, technology stack, etc., by sharing their expertise and helping the Telecom’s team with reaching their business goals, experts from Grape Up have encouraged their partners to new practices, such as pair programming and agile software development.
The company way to cloud-native application architecture is an insightful case, allowing dive into a process of transforming an enterprise with a long tradition, conducting business in an extremely demanding environment, disrupted by numerous trends, willing to rebuild both - culture and technology stack, but at the same time held down by legacy software so large and critical that cannot be effortlessly redesigned. A lesson learned from the case study shows that enterprises willing to transform their businesses can handle the entire process more effectively when they have support in key areas, such as platform operations maintenance and configuration of the new tools that built the entire cloud stack.