IT services company, TEPCO SYSTEMS CORPORATION (TEPCO SYSTEMS) needed to find a way to lower costs while increasing the speed of software development. With an F5 security solution, the company was able to build a secure cloud environment that in turn cut expenses and made offshore collaboration easier for partner developers.
TEPCO SYSTEMS develops and maintains software that helps energy-related services operate more efficiently.
Along with the increasing demand of new technology is high cost, therefore lowering costs while accelerating software development is an issue that many IT Service companies share. TEPCO SYSTEMS set out to overcome this challenge, and understood they could do so by leveraging the cloud to create a developer environment for its offshore partners.
Yet having a cloud environment created a challenge of its own: The potential for developer communication and information leaking into the wrong hands.
"When development involved partner companies, the developers from partner companies were usually stationed at our facilities and they worked from here", stated Mr. Kenichi Yoshizawa, manager of the Technology Department at TEPCO SYSTEMS.
Having partner developers work onsite made it easier to secure communications and data, yet costs remained high because TEPCO SYSTEMS needed to ensure that developers had appropriate technology and adequate work space at TEPCO SYSTEMS.
"If a development environment can be provided in the cloud for development partners, it will no longer be necessary to have partner developers come on site," stated Mr. Takuto Hongo, leader of the Technology Department at TEPCO SYSTEMS.
The solution was decided. In order to prevent the potential exposure of data and communications to others outside of the organization, TEPCO SYSTEMS selected F5 BIG-IP Access Policy Manager.
"It’s easier to carry out offshore development by preparing a development environment in the cloud. The time for development environment maintenance has shortened. We’ve been able to cut costs, too”, stated Mr. Yoshizawa.
In June 2012, for approximately six months, TEPCO SYSTEMS carried out comparative studies with various public cloud providers. The company chose Amazon Web Services (AWS) due to its low cost and secure environment.
During March of 2013, TEPCO SYSTEMS implemented a remote desktop environment on AWS and built a prototype development environment. Results proved that sufficient security could not be ensured unless the security system was built with cloud access terminals taken into consideration.
After comparing Open VPN and F5 BIG-IP Access Policy Manger, TEPCO SYSTEMS decided to implement the solution as a virtual appliance on AWS.
Mr. Hongo commented, "At the beginning, we thought we were going to use Open VPN; however, a big problem was that a certificate was required for each client. As there were many partner developers who come and go, this posed an increasing burden on management."
Using F5 BIG-IP APM, TEPCO SYSTEMS launched offshore development full scale. As of August 2015, approximately 60 partner developers are using the cloud environment, with most of the access coming from China.
Mr. Yoshizawa stated, "In the past, procuring a server could take between one to one and a half months and if set-up time was included that would mean approximately two months. However, by using the cloud, the time needed to prepare a development environment could be as short as one week."
An additional benefit was that development partners no longer had to be based in Tokyo at the TEPCO SYSTEMS facility.
With BIG-IP APM, security for the communication platform of Microsoft Office 365 was enhanced. Company employees are able to use Office 365 anywhere either within the company premises or outside of them.
Mr. Yuki Tabata from the Technology Department at TEPCO SYSTEMS remarked, "Actually, we introduced Office 365 on the premise that we had BIG-IP APM." Therefore, he was convinced from the beginning that sufficient security could be ensured, including for terminals.”
TEPCO SYSTEMS would like to use cloud service as an information sharing platform. “The introduction of F5 BIG-IP Access Policy Manager is a pioneering effort for us and the know-how acquired will most likely be used in many systems in the future”, stated Mr. Hongo.