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Serverless Billing Analytics Platform

Vodafone Ireland deploys Soft Telecom’s serverless billing communications platform and sees a 55% reduction in infrastructure costs when compared to the server-based alternative.


Vodafone Ireland has undertaken a €120 million business and IT transformation programme. The new investment will enhance the company’s customer relationship management, core billing, and order management capabilities.

The new integrated system is tailored to meet the needs of both the business and its customers, and is designed to enhance service levels, streamline Vodafone’s internal processes, and lower the costs of ongoing maintenance.

The system provides for converged product and billing capabilities with full omni-channel experience covering fixed, broadband, TV and mobile, with customers now being able to choose to receive a consolidated bill for a streamlined experience.

The rollout will take place across a number of phases one of which delivers an upgrade of the business support system (BSS) for small business (SME) customers.

The Challenge

Vodafone SME customers intermittently require access to their billing and activity data for analysis and reporting purposes. This includes data for mobile, broadband and fixed line products. This service is delivered via the billing communications platform which is integrated into the customer care portal.

Typically, the billing communications service will process raw data from the BSS for every customer at the end of each billing cycle. The analysed data is then made available to any customer needing access.

The challenge to Soft Telecom was to develop a cloud native billing communications solution for the new BSS stack. The brief was to deliver advanced analytics and reporting capabilities in an integrated web portal and deliver a great user experience for SME customers. The solution needed to be secure by design and easily integrate with CRM and the BSS.

The solution design should also look beyond a lift-and-shift of existing applications onto cloud based virtual machines and instead fully embrace a cloud native architecture.

The Solution

After presenting a proof of concept to the management team, Soft Telecom re-platformed its Enterprise Cost Analytics (ECA) product as a serverless billing communications solution. This was delivered through Google’s App Engine (GAE) PaaS with a Cloud SQL backend.

In addition, a demand-based approach to data analysis was adopted where billing activity is processed in real time and only on request.

The new on-demand version of ECA that was deployed is capable of fetching raw data from the BSS and creating a customer portal, complete with dashboards and reporting capabilities, in a matter of seconds. This means it’s no longer necessary to batch process BSS data for every customer every month and with thousands of customers and millions of data records, that reduces operational costs for Vodafone.

The platform utilises other GCP services including Cloud NAT, Cloud SQL and GKE and the development team have incorporated GCPs CI/CD pipeline tools to speed up application release cycles.

The Results

The service was rolled out over 12 months ago and has rigorously demonstrated that stateless (serverless) applications can deliver results more efficiently than classic 3-tier application architectures and reduce TCO for the customer.

An analysis of the GCP infrastructure charges over the past 12 months show ongoing savings of 55% by going serverless when compared with a server-based alternative. This analysis looked at the costs of delivering the same solution as a stateful application on dedicated servers over a 5-year period and calculating the average monthly charges. That cost was compared to the average invoice amount billed by Google Cloud in the previous 12 months giving like-for-like totals and a realistic TCO comparison.

For a service with an intermittent and burstable usage profile, we have found GAE to be the most efficient way to deploy our application in terms of cost and performance.

Vodafone IT/Ops no longer need to plan infrastructure requirements around peak demand periods which can occur at any time. It does not matter how many customers there are or when they need to access their data as ECA can scale to meet user demand automatically. It can jump from 1 to thousands of user requests instantly, scaling back down when the load drops. GAE delivers the infrastructure where it is needed and only charges for computing resources used.

On the back of this success we are extending the solution to cover other customer segments within Vodafone.

About Vodafone Ireland

Vodafone is Ireland’s leading mobile communications operator with 2.4 million customers.

Since entering the Irish market in May 2001 Vodafone has made significant investments in its network. Vodafone is the single biggest investor in new technology in the Irish telecoms industry annually, with more than €900 million spent building and maintaining its network.

Such innovation means Vodafone Ireland has been the first to launch a number of leading-edge technologies onto the Irish market. Vodafone currently has equity interests in over 30 countries across five continents and more than 50 partner networks worldwide.

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