With users in 25 different countries, the telecommunications giant Vodafone launched a new digital strategy in 2016 with the goal of creating the #1 customer experience in each of those markets.
Historically, the telecom industry in general “relied on vendors to provide us with their custom hardware that delivered a specific functionality,” says Rabi Abdel, Principal Cloud Architect at Vodafone Group. “With the move to cloud, that model’s changing, and we can deliver a service to our customer in a more agile way because it is a software-based implementation.”
In order for the digital strategy to succeed, the company needed to take a closer look at its underlying technology. “The technology response to the digital strategy was cloud native software and operating models and microservices, which those operating models are best at delivering,” says Tom Kivlin, Principal Cloud Orchestration Architect at Vodafone Group. “And when you’ve got 25 markets all doing digital experience, in order to best enable local markets to share assets, you need to consider an orchestration platform.”
Given the different requirements each market had-they can’t all use public cloud, much less the same public cloud-Kubernetes offered a powerful solution. Plus, “with the development of 5G and the edge sites that we have, we need to be able to deploy important services quickly,” says Abdel. “Kubernetes is a lightweight container platform that we can easily orchestrate from a single location, and that allows us to compete in the 5G workspace and the IoT that comes with it.”
The Vodafone Group team began building a centralized platform for the product teams delivering digital experience in the different markets to use, with consistent setup and management across the board.
The biggest challenge was securing workloads across the entire pipeline, says Lead Infrastructure Architect Samuel Manam. “The traditional ways of securing the platform is not a good fit for cloud native applications,” he says. “We decided that the best approach was moving from DevOps to DevSecOps so that security is baked into the pipeline from day one. With Kubernetes, the barrier to entry in terms of security is very low and can be fully automated. That’s a key point for us.”
The first applications deployed on the Kubernetes platform belonged to Vodafone’s “systems of innovation”-the digital channels that consumers interact with, such as chat bots or phone apps. The biggest impact so far has been that Vodafone has gone from being 97% outsourced in terms of the skills needed to build software to 95% inhouse. There’s an increased cadence for time to market, with tens of releases a day. Plus, “the numbers are improving across the sales and marketing KPIs that sit underneath customer satisfaction,” says Kivlin. “We’ve significantly increased our online sales, and we made all our digital marketing more data-driven.”
For more about Vodafone’s cloud native journey, read the full case study.