AWS Case Study : Unilever

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Before we begin lets first know what is aws ?

Amazon Web Services (AWS) is the world’s most comprehensive and broadly adopted cloud platform, offering around 2500+ services such as compute, databases, and storage.

Some salient features of AWS Cloud computing can be stated as follows:

  1. Ease of Use: AWS provides a very user-friendly interface called the AWS Management Console. This server interface provides access to a wide number of applications and services.
  2. A diverse array of Services: While it was initially meant for cloud storage and computing, it has expanded to around 2500+ services categorized as Compute-as-a-Service, Storage-as-a-Service, Infrastructure-as-a-Service, Platform-as-a-Service, and various other applications for Machine Learning, Mobile Platforms, and caters to each and every enhanced need of the current industry.
  3. Unlimited Server Capacity: There’s basically no IT-based need that your business has, that AWS cannot handle. Even better, you can expand or grow as you wish, without worrying about service disruption. This unlimited capacity is why AWS rules the cloud computing space.
  4. Flexibility and Affordability: The “pay-as-you-go” facility of AWS makes it quite affordable for the users and it comes in handy for small businesses on tight budgets looking to grow without paying a small fortune for the web services.
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pay as you go model

6. Reliable Encryption and Security: AWS provides a more reliable security measure that’s guaranteed to keep your data safe and secure.

So now lets move to discuss case study of Unilever on AWS………

Unilever

It was formed in 1930 by the merger of Dutch margarine producer, Margarine Unie and British soap maker, Lever Brothers. Today, the consumer goods giant sells food, home care, refreshments, and personal care products in over 190 countries. Unilever has headquarters in London, United Kingdom and Rotterdam, the Netherlands, and subsidiaries in over 90 countries. The company employs more than 170,000 people. In 2012, Unilever reported more than €51 billion in revenue.

The Challenge

Unilever North America in Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey needed to re-design its infrastructure to support Unilever’s digital marketing approach. Unilever previously used on-premises data centers to host its web properties, all of which had different technologies and processes. “We needed to standardize our environment to support a faster time-to-market,” says Sreenivas Yalamanchili, Digital Marketing Services (DMS) Global Technical Manager. Unilever optimizes its business model by testing a marketing campaign in a pilot country. If the campaign is successful, the company deploys it to other countries and regions. The IT organization wanted to use the cloud to implement the same process.

Why Amazon Web Services

After a comprehensive RFP and review process involving more than 16 companies, Unilever chose Amazon Web Services (AWS). Unilever’s priorities in choosing a digital marketing platform included flexibility, a global infrastructure, technology, as well as a rich ecosystem of members. The Unilever IT team had two goals for the AWS migration: deliver a common technology platform for websites with regional content delivery architecture, and migrate existing web properties to the cloud.

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Competitiors in Cloud

To develop the platform, Unilever attended an AWS workshop to design the architecture. Then the DMS team built a pilot platform (a disaster recovery site for third-party hosting in Miami) for stakeholder review. After obtaining business approval, Unilever chose CSS Corporation, an Advanced Consulting Partner member of the Amazon Partner Network (APN), for system integration and application development. The DMS team worked with CSS to develop a global content management system (CMS) . The CMS platform lets agencies build brand web sites globally and publish them across several AWS regions. Unilever uses a HAProxy load balancer to improve performance of its web sites and runs its databases on Microsoft SQL Server and MySQL.

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For disaster recovery, Unilever stores backup data, snapshots, product and recipe media files in Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3), and uses EBS Snapshot Copy to copy Amazon Elastic Block Store (Amazon EBS) snapshots from the US East (Northern Virginia) Region to the US West (Northern California) Region.

Unilever and CSS created Amazon Machine Images (AMIs) running Windows and Linux for use on approximately 400 Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) instances. Amazon Virtual Private Cloud (Amazon VPC) provides flexibility for deployments and access to the Internet.

To migrate its web properties to the cloud, Unilever built pre-production and production environments on AWS for several existing websites. Once Unilever’s creative and production agencies certified the website in the pre-production environment, Unilever switched the DNS address for production environment to go live on AWS.

After a successful pilot launch, Unilever migrated more than 500 web properties from its data centers to AWS in less than five months. Since then, Unilever has more than 1,700 web properties running on AWS worldwide.

Business Benefits

  • Increased business agility: The new platform offers insight generation at increased frequencies. As a result, Unilever has been able to achieve greater business agility in terms of reacting quickly to changing buying patterns and competition scenario.
  • Reduction in lead time for generating insights: The solution has significantly reduced lead time required from data processing and analysis to insight generation from a month to less than 10 hours for 4–6 TB of data
  • Improved predictive capability: The new platform provides improved predictive capability as it seamlessly integrates traditional data sources with new age data sources for deeper insights.
  • Improved prediction accuracy: It ensures improved accuracy of prediction because of the platform’s ability to use up-to-date market data for generating insights.
  • Better economies of scale: It has resulted in better economies of scale because of the platform’s ability to perform on-demand analytics which was not possible earlier
  • Increased Cost Savings: By moving to Cloud, the company has achieved 30% cost savings on Data churn as compared to traditional Data Center

In headline

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Written by

I’m an undergraduate student at IIIT Ranchi, pursuing my B-Tech in Electronics and Communication Engineering.

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