Gibson Innovations scales IP camera biz on cloud

Kenny Kwan, Senior Software Development Manager, Gibson InnovationsFour years ago, Hong Kong-based Gibson Innovations embarked on a proof-of-concept cloud journey to scale from supporting zero IP camera to millions of them to reduce IT infrastructure.

Headquartered in Hong Kong with an office in the Hong Kong Science Parks, Gibson Innovations distributes audio equipment and IP camera systems worldwide through its retail partners.

Lately, Gibson Innovations was given the market challenge to "execute a multi-brand strategy across the consumer decision journey."

The primary goal for Gibson was to cut down on IT infrastructure cost, while improving data security.

Unique business nature

The business nature of IP cameras is unique, in terms of user behavior, system resource scalability, and its long-tail software maintenance cycle.

Users of IP cameras typically display very unique user patterns, said Kenny Kwan (pictured), senior software development manager, Innovation and Development, Gibson Innovations. They might switch it on and connect them onto the internet in the morning, check them out during lunch breaks, or at night as they monitor their babies' sleep condition.

The fact that IP cameras leverage video streaming also brings huge traffic to the IT infrastructure, thereby demanding highly scalable system resources.

The IP camera business is a long-tail business, as users tend to use them for years before retiring the devices. "Meanwhile, we would maintain the IP camera software, plus the backend infrastructure and monitor its performance for years until the customers retire the products."

The following outlined the cloud journey that Gibson Innovations embarked on, using AWS services as an innovator.

First generation: Low infrastructure utilization

Four years ago, Gibson relied 100% on outsourcing to support the software required to run its IP cameras. "We initially relied on several technology partners to provide our network infrastructure," said Kwan. "Not only that it wasn't easy to deploy it in multiple regions, we had to make upfront investments and pay high infrastructure costs. Software maintenance was also complex as multiple vendors were involved. As a result, the utilization of the network infrastructure was very low."

When Gibson tried to market its products to a new country like Germany, Gibson needed to set up new servers in Germany and retain the data locally to comply with data jurisdiction requirements. "As a result, a lot of complex service level agreement negotiations had to take place before we could actually expand our business into new markets."

Second generation: Cloud for cost reduction

To improve its cost efficiency, Gibson later adopted some of the basic Amazon Web Services (AWS) managed services including EC2, VPC and S3. "We had pretty good optimization with lower initial investment. In fact, we saw an instant cost reduction between 15-32%," said Kwan.

"The use of AWS also enables us to fully manage our scalability, while the infrastructure cost grew elastically with our user base." By migrating its infrastructure to public cloud environment, Gibson could flexibly expand its server infrastructure into the countries where they wanted to sell their products to.