As more and more customers opt-in to texting as their preferred method of business communication, organizations have scrambled to enable text messaging support at scale without over-extending internal teams that are already stretched thin with day-to-day IT projects and maintenance needs.
Enter Zipwhip. Zipwhip designs and develops software that enables businesses and organizations to text their customers from their landline, computer, or mobile device. To date, over 35,000 businesses have used Zipwhip’s platform to reach their customers through text communications, from credit unions, to fitness centers, to dental offices. The Zipwhip solution also powers text communications to large groups of people at scale –enabling organizations to simultaneously reach thousands of people.
As the company has expanded, it’s moved diligently along a path of digital transformation. This requires a balance between the continuous shift toward more advanced cloud technologies and the need to retain technology that’s imperative to supporting its critical intermediary customer – telecom carriers.
F5 Cloud Services, NGINX, and Amazon Web Services have helped bridge the gap.
Complexity of tech architecture and infrastructure introduces another challenge. It directly translates to lost business any time a customer abandons an interface or a process that’s too confusing. At the same time, internal complexity increases the time it takes Zipwhip’s IT teams to learn how to use new services, then make updates and patches.
The Platform team also must stay ahead of any problems that might create a poor customer experience, identifying issues before they occur—and certainly before any customer experiences trouble. But while a customer-centric focus is critical to Zipwhip’s growth trajectory, tech complexity continued to pose a major risk.
Zipwhip brought in Amazon Web Services to provide cloud infrastructure, with NGINX Controller and F5 Cloud Services managing inbound and outbound traffic into the network. F5 Cloud Services is used primarily for connectivity to the telecom carriers, ensuring a secure, high-performance relationship.
“Texts are small, but we’re talking about many thousands of them at once. F5 is highly performant, and we’re able to push a lot of data packets. That’s a big requirement for us because we don’t have high- bandwidth traffic, but we do have a lot of packets,” said Kolby Allen, Principal Architect, Infrastructure & Devops at Zipwhip. “The persistence we get with F5 is a big benefit. Connectivity through F5 doesn’t go down. F5 stays online for our customers.”
F5 Cloud Services and AWS also equip Zipwhip to continue its digital transformation by allowing it to decommission legacy systems and physical data centers. “When you can provision on demand, versus purchasing servers and having a few weeks of lead time, then you have to rack and stack—it’s just clear that moving to cloud services is the better option,” said Allen.
When it comes to simplifying architecture and infrastructure, NGINX has been the winner. “When building out our pretty complex infrastructure, we wanted to pick tools that could serve multiple uses for us, so we’re not having to train on a lot of different services. We only needed to learn NGINX,” said Allen. “Every time we run into a problem, we look at NGINX and it checks the box.”
Specifically, Allen cites the high visibility, refined configuration, and aggressive health checking that NGINX enables. “NGINX does everything that a lot of competitors only do one of. NGINX solves everything with the one tool.” Clear visibility into security and traffic threats helps the team identify issues before they become problems.
Having worked with F5, NGINX, and AWS for over a year, Allen is ready to move Zipwhip to the next stage of digital transformation: a phase in which it realizes the full benefits of NGINX tools and features. “We’ve mastered the management and running of these services, but now let’s master and manage the ability of NGINX to respond to its changes, and leverage the upstream health checks and backup configurations. This is taking the next step in our iterations of continually getting better at using the tools and features,” said Allen.
Zipwhip also continues to grow with the periphery in terms of legacy technology, enabling it to maintain vital connections with telecom carriers. At the same time, the core of Zipwhip is on an advanced timeline to keep pace with evolving customer expectations. With the help of F5 Cloud Services, NGINX, and AWS, the company continues to meet its mission to bridge the gap between its two most crucial stakeholders: telecom carriers and business customers.