When it comes to cloud infrastructure, Amazon Web Services (AWS) is a market leader, holding roughly a third of the UK market – and for good reason.
The cloud computing platform goes beyond IaaS and SaaS capabilities to offer additional value to businesses across the globe.
We’re seeing more new and innovative ways to use AWS than ever before as businesses and organisations take advantage of the possibilities it offers. Here, we explore some of the most groundbreaking ways UK businesses and organisations are using AWS.
1. Availability and disaster recovery – case study: Bellway Homes
Operating in the fast-paced and highly competitive property market, email and system uptime is critical for Bellway Homes. Even an outage of a few minutes could see the business lose thousands to its competitors.
Bellway had been experiencing storage and reliability issues for its emails, which was hindering its ability to carry out and close critical business deals. It was reliant on a virtualised platform that provided shared storage, and it needed a more reliable system.
Through working with managed AWS services partner Perfect Image, Bellway Homes was able to migrate to an AWS platform that offered greater reliability, scalability, and a much faster disaster recovery option. Previously, recovering the email system could take up to eight hours with a chance of failure, but the new AWS solution allows it to be recovered in just 15 minutes with an almost 100% success rate.
As well as near-100% availability, Bellway Homes has also benefitted from AWS in a number of different ways. With no hardware required to scale the solution, less manual maintenance, no physical backup requirements, and a flexible pay-as-you-go contract, the business has dramatically reduced its infrastructure costs.
2. Unparalleled scalability and innovation – case study: NHS Digital
It goes without saying that the NHS has been under extraordinary pressure over the past 18 months. Not only were hospitals bursting at the seams with COVID-19 patients, but the National Health Service was also required to innovate at breakneck speed.
NHS Digital, which provides technology services to the health service, was required to not only push out new solutions quickly, securely, and effectively but also scale and extend its existing services. The 111 triage service, which was used to support people with a myriad of COVID-19 queries and support, was rolled out quickly and effectively thanks to the flexibility allowed by AWS.
In addition to these new services, which also included identifying and contacting clinically vulnerable patients and vaccination service systems, NHS Digital also needed to scale its existing services. Early in the pandemic, the peak load of one system was 95 times higher than it had ever been. Availability of 99.999% was essential for success, and NHS Digital relied heavily on the strict security protocols around AWS due to regulatory patient confidentiality.
According to NHS Digital CEO Sarah Wilkinson, the “elasticity” of AWS was critical to meeting this demand: “AWS has made much of this possible over the past year. We’ve been building out our AWS estate for many years, and many times we’ve reflected on the value of the AWS environment in which we operate those services today and the extraordinary power it gives us in terms of extreme scaling and deployment.”
While the AWS platform helped NHS Digital create and scale digital services at a pace that has never been previously required, the technology is also being used as a platform for future innovation and digital transformation. Wilkinson continues: “In terms of our AWS relationship, I have absolutely no doubt that what we’ve achieved in this environment to date is a tiny fraction of what we’ll achieve in the coming years.”
Future plans for the AWS platform include leveraging centralised control of hospital devices, which could range from radiology equipment to IoT devices on hospital beds, to organising, structuring, and making sense of its mountains of unstructured but essential patient data.
3. Efficient deliveries and employee satisfaction – case study: Deliveroo
UK-born business Deliveroo operates in a saturated market, so a competitive edge is essential. With a presence in 12 countries worldwide including its UK base, the company caters to multiple markets, all with differing needs and fluctuating demands.
By using AWS and Amazon SageMaker, Deliveroo is able to differentiate itself from its competitors through its efficient dispatch services. Instead of using only geo-location data to assign a driver to an order, the company now uses an intelligent AWS machine learning system that will take into consideration driver pickup and delivery timescales, as well as a meal prep estimate.
The intelligent use of machine learning not only helps Deliveroo to maintain a high level of customer satisfaction but also keeps its drivers loyal and dissuades them from defecting to competitors. This is because it allows them to be more efficient, delivering more orders during their shifts and earning more money.
Deliveroo first implemented AWS in 2017, but the technology came in especially useful during COVID-19 lockdowns, which saw demand for deliveries triple in the face of 80 per cent of restaurants closing. The company decided to focus on immediate cash flow instead of growth and was empowered to do this through the flexibility of AWS. Deliveroo scaled back resource-heavy features like auto-generated restaurant suggestions because they were being used less, allowing the business to focus on its most profitable features.
Most businesses have now migrated at least some of their workloads to the cloud, with cloud computing becoming the norm. Many cloud platforms offer hosting and storage, but solutions like AWS go beyond these basic services to offer an outstanding opportunity for businesses to do more than ever before.
Andrew Rigg is the Head of Managed Services Solution Architecture at Perfect Image, a UK based managed AWS services company. With expertise in Microsoft Azure and AWS cloud technologies, Andrew works closely with the delivery teams to generate solutions and ensure planning & development is architected and delivered at the level each customer requires.