Updated: Jan 11, 2021
This post is derived from a talk by Mithi CEO Tarun Malaviya at the ‘AWS CIO Round Table’ event on 4th May 2016
Dependable, Secure & Affordable Collaboration
Mithi is a maker of Email & Collaboration software (Connect Xf), that is used extensively by some of India’s leading enterprises for their business process teams, extended enterprises, field staff, as end to end solutions for their collaboration needs and sometimes in combination with other legacy mailing solution (co-existence).
The reason – We’re offering a very dependable, secure, affordable solution that is helping hundreds of enterprises gain control, reduce cost & improve productivity.
The Tough Task of Dealing with Variations
For much of our life as an Email & Collaboration solution provider, we’ve been an enterprise software company (medium to large sized in premise deployments). And it’s been tough.
A lot of what we had to do, as an enterprise software company, was to manage the technology environment vagaries & different levels of competencies of the IT teams of each customer that we served. And that took up a lot of our time.
To help us deal with the variations of the IT set-ups & teams from one customer to the next, we set-up a very sophisticated service delivery practice that traced the entire lifecycle (from Consulting -> Deployment ->Maintenance -> Training -> Upgrades -> Reconfigurations -> Renewals) of the collaboration infrastructure to ensure high-up time and performance. But despite our best efforts, it was hard to ensure a uniform experience to our customers. The variations of the environment simply made that a near impossible task. A lot of time was spent waiting for the IT teams to be free, servers to arrive, or to get an appropriate schedule for a downtime.
Besides the problems created by the variations in the environment, the effort of setting-up the infrastructure, upgrading it, hardware migrations, etc. had to be repeated from one customer location to another. Most of the helpdesk calls were linked to environmental problems such as network issues, storage outages, server performance or capacity issues, devices, software incompatibilities etc.
No amount of juggling around with scheduling of tasks was enough to avoid the waste from having to wait for things to be in place so that work could move forward.
From “In premise Enterprise Software” to “Shared Hosted Services” to “SaaS on the AWS Cloud”
To overcome environmental variations and the waste associated with repetition in maintenance, a few years ago, we had already started transitioning to a shared multi-tenancy hosting model, where one infrastructure would house several customers. We set this up at an ISP data center on a physical infrastructure, migrated several customers here and encountered limitations and problems similar to an enterprise setup but only localized to one setup.
The biggest challenge in such an environment is that it is too rudimentary, with no building blocks or services and is not really a platform you can build on. While we localized our service effort to one setup, we had to literally build the whole delivery platform from scratch, using only servers and storage, for high availability, performance, recovery, security, and more. Again we found ourselves split between working on value delivery via our App and ensuring a reliable and scalable delivery platform.
About a year ago, we started exploring the AWS (Amazon Web Services) cloud for our SaaS offering to find a way out of the limitations we were facing with our data centre provider. We quickly realised that moving to the cloud would reduce our service effort substantially leaving us with more time and resource to work on value creation.
No amount of juggling around with scheduling of tasks was enough to avoid the waste from having to wait for things to be in place so that work could move forward. The team was spending much of its time dealing with environmental snags to just keep things running at all the customer sites. The system was wasteful and inefficient.
That really is the new story at Mithi. As we move rapidly to scale-up our use of the cloud, it is freeing up resources and creating an opportunity for us to innovate faster while delivering even better flexibility & performance outcome for our customers. Moving to the AWS cloud also offers us an opportunity to deliver a uniform experience to our customers regardless of their size or sophistication of their IT set-up.
Faster Experimentation & Adoption
The story on the application side is interesting – a couple of years ago there were stories doing the rounds that “Email is Dead”, that all the new generation collaboration applications are going to kill it. Not so. Email has just become even more important in running your business and for important personal matters today, with confirmations and notifications for almost all transactions with the government, Banks, Financial companies and Online purchases etc. happening on it. Meanwhile, the casual and social conversations have moved to social media apps like What’sApp and Facebook.
Email will continue to remain central to business communication. So do we need to re-invent email to overcome some of its limitations? Not so. While, it may not be the best of tools when it comes to collaboration (there are some structural limitations here) it can work alongside other tools that offer real time, live and more efficient group collaboration. And that’s what we’re working on, to bring a host of new generation collaboration apps to our customers. Here again the AWS cloud platform enables us to innovate & execute much faster, helping us offer more options to our customers and it enables our customers to experiment with newer tools and quickly adopt what works for them.
Customers Moving to the Cloud
We are seeing pretty rapid adoption of our solution Mithi SkyConnect on the AWS Cloud, especially from the smaller and midsized customers (the larger customers perhaps want to wait a bit to recover the investments made in their Data Centers). We see this movement to the cloud accelerating over the next two years as the advantages of being on the cloud far outweigh that of an on-premise set-up.
Moving to the cloud should make for happier customers. And that in turn will be very good for our business.