Meeting a Growing Demand for Non-English Content
Startup Pratilipi is an Indian language storytelling platform that offers books, short stories, and essays in nine Indian languages including Hindi, Gujarati, Bengali, and Marathi. It is estimated that about 90 percent of Indians do not speak English and consume content in other official languages instead. The number of internet users consuming non-English content in India currently is more than 234 million, and the figure continues to grow as more people access the internet thanks to widespread connectivity and the falling price of smartphones.
The Switch from Monolithic to Microservices
Pratilipi launched in 2015, and its CTO at the time built the platform’s single-tiered monolithic application to run on the Google Cloud Platform (GCP). When Gauri Kanekar, vice president of engineering at Pratilipi, took over platform development responsibilities in 2017, she discussed with the then CTO, Prashant Gupta, the trade-offs of rewriting the application to run in a microservices architecture. The goal was to make the application more scalable and easier to develop. Kanekar ran a proof of concept (POC) for running microservices on GCP and on Amazon Web Services (AWS).
“During our POCs, we found that microservices on the AWS Cloud was easier to control, and Kubernetes on AWS was more predictable,” says Kanekar. “With GCP, we had an auto-scale feature, but sometimes it behaved oddly, spinning up multiple virtual machines. It was unclear how we could specify the minimum or maximum number of virtual machines we wanted. With auto-scaling on AWS, we could specify the number very clearly.”
Simplifying Deployment While Cutting Overhead
The Pratilipi engineering team rewrote its application code for micro services with Amazon Elastic Container Service (Amazon ECS) as the orchestration service. Over a period of four months, the team finished the code changes, completed testing, and migrated all data from GCP to AWS. “Once we’d made the migration, even a junior member of our engineering team could deploy code without any training because of the simplicity of Amazon ECS,” says Kanekar.
Pratilipi uses Amazon Relational Database Service (Amazon RDS) to store user details as well as all published content. Platform imagery and audio are stored in Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3). Comments Kanekar, “Because Amazon RDS is a managed service, we don’t have the overhead of hiring a database administrator and allocate the saved resources towards hiring developers instead. In addition, the scalability of Amazon S3 means we can continue adding images and audio to our platform without capacity issues. Plus, we can develop our big data analytics capabilities, using Amazon S3 as a data lake.”
A Data Lake Helps Understand Users Better
Pratilipi is creating a data lake on Amazon S3 to analyze user behavior and better understand how people are reacting to marketing campaigns. Every day, Pratilipi sends out a total of six million emails to users via Amazon Simple Email Service (Amazon SES), promoting titles of books, short stories, and essays on the Pratilipi platform. It can improve the effectiveness of those emails by tailoring messaging as it understands customer behavior better. Today, Amazon Kinesis captures data from user interactions on the platform and deposits the information in Amazon S3—about 40 gigabytes a day. The data is then pulled into Pratilipi’s customer relationship management and marketing systems to understand the impact of campaigns. The engineering team also runs Amazon Athena against log files in the data lake for daily platform performance metrics.
Nine-Person Engineering Team Makes 4,500 Code Deployments in a Year
By migrating to AWS and Amazon ECS, Pratilipi has increased its pace of code development. In 2018, the nine-person Pratilipi engineering team made 4,500 code deployments. According to Kanekar, the company would have achieved just 25 percent of that figure if it had retained its monolithic application on GCP.
“For a startup with a small engineering team, being able to deploy code so easily helps us to experiment a lot,” says Kanekar. “For instance, we ran some test code to see if we could divide up data traffic to improve performance.” The company operates identical production environments in blue and green mode. It runs tests code in the blue, idle environment, using the continuous integration/continuous deployment capabilities in Amazon ECS, before switching it across to the green, live mode. “In this instance, our experiment was a success, and we deployed the code to our live environment. If it hadn’t worked, we would have killed the code quickly and moved on to another experiment.”
Improving Customer Experience with APIs Resolving in Milliseconds
In addition, Pratilipi users can access content faster since the migration to AWS. In the past, users often couldn’t access Pratilipi’s mobile platform or download content through their smartphones because of the time it took for the APIs between their devices and the platform to resolve. The company needed to fix the problem as soon as possible because many of its customers access the platform using mobile devices in parts of India where the networks are 2G. “Today, the platform has 99.999 percent availability owing to the effectiveness of those AWS managed services.” comments Kanekar.
Enhancing User Experience Propels Growth in Regular Users
Pratilipi dedicates more resources to innovation rather than infrastructure management now that its application is running in a microservices platform, with AWS managing key infrastructure services such as servers, storage, and networking. Today, the platform has 99.999 percent availability owing to the effectiveness of those AWS managed services. Kanekar believes this has been a key factor in Pratilipi’s continued growth. “Since we started running on AWS, we have seen our user numbers increase from two million to more than six million monthly active users. We can attribute part of that growth to the stability that AWS provides for a better user experience.”
Tata Tele business service hosts a Successful discussion with CXOs for resilience & business growth in Post COVID world
Tata Tele Business Services (TTBS), hosted CXO Round Table Discussion with industry leaders on building a new mindset for business resilience and growth. The discussion centered around Respond, Reboot and Reinvent as key imperatives; with large Enterprises reinventing their business models as they continue to respond effectively to the aftershocks of the crisis.
While the potential requirement for many organizations is to build digital competency, the larger goal is to be data-driven and leveraging the cloud capabilities. Moreover, witnessing variable cost structures, agile operations, and automation which could create stronger capabilities with digital presence and security.
According to an IDC report, ‘By 2022, 70% of all organizations will have accelerated use of digital technologies, transforming existing business processes to drive customer engagement, employee productivity, and business resiliency.’
Industry representatives such asUpkar Singh, Director IT, Fidelity Information Services India Ltd., Raj Neravathi – Head of Technology, Titan, Yogesh Kothari – Sr. Vice President, Quatrro Business Support Solutions shared their expertise upon business agility, examples from their professional career and how they are successfully driving the digital transformation journey for their organization.
Addressing the session, Mr. Shibhu Davies, Sales Head – North and East, Tata Communications Ltd. said, “There is a plethora of technology available in the market, understanding the most suitable one for a particular business is the key factor. To thrive in the next normal, companies must be data driven to make critical and timely decisions. While there is an uptick in the businesses investing in data and nimble technologies like cloud and AI, many are still struggling to maintain momentum. Businesses need to get out of cultural obstacles, address data privacy and governance challenges to enhance their degree of business transformation.”
Elaborating further on increasing adoption of Cloud communication, Mr. Shibhu Davies explained, “Cloud Communication suite like Smartflo being offered by Tata Teleservices are inherently designed for a digital or hybrid environment and is well-equipped to deal with the growing overlap between digital technology and enterprise operations. Besides enhanced efficiency and operational flexibility, it offers more robust security to your business with a pre-configured unified threat management system.”
Mr. Upkar Singh, Director IT, Fidelity Information Services India Ltd said “Covid has created an unprecedented impact across all regions – organizations that are flexible both from technology and operational perspective have been able to RESPOND in time, REBOOT their functions and are now REINVENTING result oriented approach”
Mr. Raj Neravathi – Head of Technology, Titan said, “During times of catastrophes, leadership plays a very important role in adoption to change. Composure, calmness, honoring and supporting every internal and external stakeholder through thick and thin helps revive business and defines leadership by example.”
Mr. Yogesh Kothari – Sr Vice President, Quatrro Business Support Solutions said, “Challenges that enterprises are facing in the current times is resistance to change. There is a lack of vision for creating a digital journey for the customer and technology know how for their business”
Highlights of discussion:
Challenges in Technology Adoption
The key challenges faced by enterprises for adopting new technologies extend both towards the changing customer experience along with employee pushback. Merely purchasing and implementing a solution in response to a localized issue does not equate to technology adoption and agility. Organizations are considering two key points, recognizing and responding to the shifting trends in consumer behavior and avoiding the initiatives that target specific issues.
The post-covid world has led to unexpectedly increased customer readiness towards trying new channels for interacting with businesses.
Organizations adopting to technology, lead to driving changes strategically through an ongoing process where being receptive to changing consumer trends helps in the formulation of effective roadmaps. These roadmaps can then be used to build better value propositions by leveraging the right technological advancements, leading to business growth and benefits.
Role of Leadership In Bringing Organizational Change
Leadership plays a very critical role while dealing with catastrophes. From healthcare solutions to virtual classrooms, from facilitating remote work and learning, from re-imagining online business models and digital revenue lines, to stepping up the cyber security, organizations are working on new challenges.
The pandemic has accelerated transformation multifariously for businesses in India. Organizations are re-imagining their business models, relooking at talent management strategies, and fast-tracking digitalization efforts to be more resilient to disruption.
Organizations are simplifying and enhancing their IT landscape, architecting systems for integration, balancing operational and capital expenses using the cloud. Investments are being made towards intelligent systems that provide incremental learning abilities.
Technology Investments for a Digital Future
Over the last couple of months, it has become increasingly evident that digital adoption is not negotiable. Having the right technology to power up digital strategies is fundamental in today’s business world. It is a business requirement without which organizations are not able to grow in a rapidly evolving market landscape.
A good business continuity solution that delivers digital workspaces to access critical applications, have accelerated the performance of organizational applications on remote connections. With right platform and solutions clubbed with excessive trainings, organizations have managed to continue with their operations without major loss in productivity or efficiency.
Digital technologies have caused a shift in customer expectations, resulting in a new kind of modern buyer. Today’s consumers are constantly connected and aware of what they can do with technology. Bringing the employees up to speed to cater to the new age customers has been one of the key form of investments for various organizations.
Respond, Reboot and Reinvent – The New Mindset for Growth
Organizations have taken immediate actions focused on keeping people safe and essential business functions operating. This has been relatively marked with high effort and possibly chaotic activity.
Organizations are adopting to the wholistic approach, recognizing evolving customer demand, channels of information consumption, building continued incremental intelligence including technology that provides agility. Agile decision making and strategy setting by enterprises have outsized performance and established a lead over the competition that sustains long after the initial disruption. By reinventing themselves, organizations have learnt to conduct operational processes and workflows in new, repeatable, and scalable ways.
- Gaining New perspectives, relooking at business models and embracing new models of harnessing technology have become business priorities.
- Reinvent on an ongoing basis to build an agile, adaptive & resilient enterprise for a sustainable future.
- Uninterrupted connectivity between all stakeholders, internally within employees and externally with customers and vendors across platforms and touch points is of critical importance.
Bharti Airtel Announces 5G Ready Network
In a major landmark, Bharti Airtel (“Airtel”) announced that it has become the country’s first telco to successfully demonstrate & orchestrate LIVE 5G service over a commercial network in Hyderabad city.
Airtel did this over its existing liberalised spectrum in the 1800 MHz band through the NSA (Non Stand Alone) network technology. Using a first of its kind, dynamic spectrum sharing, Airtel seamlessly operated 5G and 4G concurrently within the same spectrum block. This demonstration has emphatically validated the 5G readiness of Airtel’s network across all domains – Radio, Core and Transport.
Airtel 5G is capable of delivering 10x speeds, 10x latency and 100x concurrency when compared to existing technologies. Specifically, in Hyderabad, users were able to download a full length movie in a matter of seconds on a 5G phone. This demonstration has underlined the company’s technology capabilities. The full impact of the 5G experience, however, will be available to our customers, when adequate spectrum is available and government approvals received.
Gopal Vittal, MD & CEO, Bharti Airtel said: “I am very proud of our engineers who have worked tirelessly to showcase this incredible capability in Tech City, Hyderabad today. Every one of our investments is future proofed as this game changing test in Hyderabad proves. With Airtel being the first operator to demonstrate this capability, we have shown again that we have always been the first in India to pioneer new technologies in our quest for empowering Indians everywhere.”
“We believe India has the potential to become a global hub for 5G innovation. To make that happen we need the eco system to come together – applications, devices and network innovation. We are more than ready to do our bit.” added Gopal Vittal.
Airtel Xstream Fiber Rolls Out Gigabit Wi-Fi Experience
Bharti Airtel (“Airtel”) has kicked off the New Year with some exciting news for customers with the launch of hyper-fast Wi-Fi experience.
Airtel Xstream Fiber customers can now enjoy 1 Gbps data speeds over Wi-Fi and no longer have to be constrained by a dedicated LAN cable. The Airtel Xstream Fiber Rs 3999 plan now comes with a complimentary 1 Gbps Wi-Fi router to go with unlimited data quota and massive bundled content.
The highly advanced 4×4 Wi-Fi router, will enable seamless 1 Gbps Wi-Fi coverage across Homes and Small Offices. This will unlock a great experience for online gaming and animation and for work or study from home with large number of concurrently connected devices. Small Offices will be able to deploy multiple high speed connections for applications such as stock trading and online collaboration that requires reliable high speed connectivity with zero downtime.
Says Vir Inder Nath, CEO – Homes, Bharti Airtel: “Reliable high speed connectivity is a lifeline in today’s digital first world and Airtel is proud to be at the forefront of India’s broadband revolution. A key ask from our customers was liberation from the LAN cable to enjoy the 1Gbps experience and we are delighted to make that happen.”
Airtel Xstream Fiber’s 1 Gbps broadband plan at Rs 3999 also comes with a complimentary Airtel Xstream Box that offers 550 TV channels and OTT content from the Airtel Xstream app library that includes over 10,000 movies & shows aggregated across 7 OTT apps and 5 studios. It offers subscription to premier video streaming apps such as Amazon Prime Video and ZEE5, all accessible through the Airtel Xstream Box.
Airtel is India’s largest private sector broadband service provider with presence in over 150 cities.
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