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7SIGNAL Solves Data Performance Limitations By Building A New Architecture With Mission And AWS

Executive Summary

7SIGNAL’s existing architecture was not able to efficiently leverage modern cloud services, leading to performance and scalability struggles – and holding back the development of new product capabilities for monitoring customers’ wireless networks. The company enlisted Mission to rebuild much of its AWS architecture and create a new alerting agent application that could analyze millions of streaming data messages daily (and deliver near real-time customer alerts whenever WiFi errors or anomalies occur). With this Mission-designed and verified AWS architecture, 7SIGNAL gains a performant and scalable solution for advancing its services and meeting future customer growth. 7SIGNAL relies on Mission Cloud Care and Mission Cloud Foundation for ongoing cost governance and optimization support. The company also leverages Mission’s data, analytics, and machine learning (DAML) practice for bringing its predictive analytics application to market.

“Mission enables us to focus on confidently delivering (and continuously enhancing) our business-facing products, and as little time as possible pushing buttons to scale AWS architecture or perform maintenance. Bringing on Mission has, and continues to, make a lot of sense for us.” 

Russell Wangler
Chief Technology Officer

The Challenge

7SIGNAL has been using AWS for several years. Its AWS architecture utilized data streamed to Elasticsearch, running dashboards and monitoring with an Elasticsearch cluster. However, 7SIGNAL began recognizing that its AWS architecture was not particularly well-optimized, causing cost inefficiency and performance issues. Due to these challenges, 7SIGNAL’s internal team was applying significant time and focus simply supporting infrastructure and maintaining consistent performance for customers.

The company also planned to build out new product features and solutions, and was conscious that its existing architecture was not suited for supporting those longer-term initiatives. In particular, 7SIGNAL had a next-generation agent application in development, which it needed to be more performant and feature-rich than its incumbent solution. This new agent required real-time alerting, and 7SIGNAL’s existing architecture was not able to capably support that. At the same time, 7SIGNAL was concerned that its architecture couldn’t easily scale to meet accelerating customer growth. While the architecture topped out at supporting 12,000 concurrent agents, projections indicated that 7SIGNAL would require the capacity to operate 500,000 concurrent agents by 2022. From a performance standpoint, the existing architecture design could also leave its largest customers facing latencies of up to 13 seconds when accessing data.

7SIGNAL had some database knowledge internally but lacked the requisite expertise to achieve its goals. The company realized it would need external assistance to navigate the breadth of AWS services available and leverage the optimal solutions for its use case. To avoid pitfalls due to gaps in its knowledge of specific AWS services, 7SIGNAL sought to enlist an AWS partner with the expertise to build and optimize a new AWS architecture that could empower more efficient, performant, and scalable solutions going forward.

Why AWS?

7SIGNAL initially selected AWS because of the depth and scope of cloud services that were available. The company reports that AWS’ performance and reliability continue to reinforce that decision.

“I want my developers focused on delivering customer success,” said Wangler. “I don't want them focused on DevOps 24/7. DevOps is a means to an end. Why build it yourself when AWS is largely offering it as a service?”

Why Mission?

Mission came highly recommended by AWS, and was introduced to 7SIGNAL by its AWS representative. “After meeting with a couple of AWS engineers that we really respected and trusted, and hearing how they in turn respected Mission, that was enough for us to move forward,” explained Wangler. “And they were right. Mission has been a great choice.”

Mission went through a lengthy discovery process with 7SIGNAL, demonstrating its commitment and capabilities for re-architecting the company’s AWS environment well before it became a signed customer. Mission built deep credibility and trust with 7SIGNAL throughout that process, and the company felt confident in its decision to move forward with Mission.

7SIGNAL began work with Mission as a professional services engagement. The company soon signed up for Mission Cloud Foundation to receive ongoing cost governance and optimization support, as well as Mission Cloud Care. 

“We wanted to engage a highly skilled provider who could help us prove – through verified testing – that our new architectural choices were going to work. We had a really good idea of what we wanted when it came to migrating to a more modern AWS-centric architecture. We knew what our data ingestion requirements were and we knew what our fundamental functional requirements were. We were just unsure of the best way to use AWS’ labyrinth of components to best achieve our goal. That’s where Mission’s knowledge and experience made all the difference.”

Russell Wangler
Chief Technology Officer

Strategy and Solution 

Mission transformed 7SIGNAL’s AWS architecture by utilizing AWS SQS for distributed message queuing, AWS Lambda for serverless computing, S3 for object storage, and Amazon DynamoDB to maintain and process records by state and to achieve additional requisite functionalities. The new architecture also leverages SMS messaging notifications to send alerts to customers, and Amazon Kinesis to efficiently process and analyze real-time streaming data at scale. At the same time, Mission’s expert cloud solutions architects ensure that this new architecture adheres to the best practices of the AWS Well-Architected Framework. 

7SIGNAL required the ability to leverage insights from real-time information to recognize any potential issues or error events across its customers’ WiFi networks. Using existing error criteria from 7SIGNAL, Mission selected and integrated AWS components  for the customer that can recognize errors in near real-time, and send automated alerts to customers detailing the issues. To power this solution, streaming data messages are processed in a mostly serverless environment using step functions (the only server being a backend Redshift cluster). The architecture takes high-volume data streams and compresses them into aggregated relational tables in Redshift for further analysis. These automated alerts inform customers of user experience problems so they may be resolved. The automated messages also include built-in logic controlling their frequency, such that alerts remain meaningful and not overwhelming. 

“Mission Cloud Foundation and Mission Cloud Care are very attractive and useful services for us. We’re paying the same for first-level AWS support, but that support is significantly better, with rapid responses to issues. We meet with Mission’s team monthly to go over our environment with Mission’s enhanced usage reporting; this alone has saved us thousands of dollars. By starting with Mission as architecture consultants, and then working with their Sprint Team to stand up the new architecture, and then their support team on ongoing optimization and monitoring, we’ve been seamlessly backed by the same expertise from design, to implementation, to our ongoing operations. That whole strategy just fit us like a glove.”

Russell Wangler
Chief Technology Officer

Results and Benefits

7SIGNAL’s new AWS architecture and new agent application are now capable of handling millions of messages each minute, fully enabling the scalable and performant near real-time alerting agent 7SIGNAL sought to create. 7SIGNAL can provide its customers with proactive alerting to keep them in the loop more quickly when WiFi issues occur, offering valuable customer touchpoints while improving communication and remediation. From a customer experience perspective, improved performance has reduced access times from seconds of latency down to milliseconds. 7SIGNAL can now enable customers to achieve statistical sampling of their hundreds of thousands of devices by deploying agents to all devices and selecting a portion to use, transforming what was a costly, error prone, and time-consuming task for internal device teams. The new architecture and Mission’s support have also drastically reduced 7SIGNAL’s AWS costs. Already, optimizations have decreased costs by 26%, with a total projected reduction of 73% on the horizon.

With the new AWS architecture and agent, 7SIGNAL has a fully scalable solution for enhancing its services and meeting future customer growth, while still integrating seamlessly with its existing systems. Due to improved customer growth projections based on 7SIGNAL’s new AWS architecture and more effective capabilities, 7SIGNAL was recently able to secure a significant round of investment funding.

“With Mission, we’ve achieved the scalability and performance we needed to unlock additional competitive advantages and new features for our customers,” said Wangler. “On top of that, our costs are coming down to a fraction of what they were.”

Next Steps

Going forward, Mission will continue work on 7SIGNAL’s architecture and optimize the company’s AWS services. Mission will also be focusing on providing long-term anomaly detection and forecasting. This predictive AI/ML-powered solution will be able to recognize and alert customers to potential issues before they cause disruption, such as recurring patterns of higher load under certain circumstances, which can then be strategically addressed and alleviated.

7SIGNAL has also begun to utilize Mission Cloud One for comprehensive AWS managed cloud service, providing continuous optimization, reduced operational costs, and integrated CloudWatch and New Relic to achieve 24/7/365 real-time monitoring.

AWS Services
  • Amazon S3 for object storage
  • AWS SQS for message queuing
  • AWS Lambda to enable serverless computing
  • Amazon DynamoDB to maintain and process records by state
  • Amazon Kinesis to process and analyze data streams
  • Amazon Redshift as the cloud data warehouse