Indian Farmers Fertiliser Cooperative Limited (IFFCO) is one of India’s largest cooperative society which is wholly owned by Indian Cooperatives.

Founded in 1967 with 57 cooperatives, IFFCO is today an amalgamation of over 36,000 Indian Cooperatives with diversified business interests ranging from general insurance to rural telecom apart from the core business of manufacturing and selling fertilisers.

In conversation with Umbrella, Mr AK Gupta, General Manager, IT Services, IFFCO shares his experience about a high visibility project and how Amazon Cloud helped achieve the business objective.

Can you provide us a background about the project?

IFFCO is celebrating its golden jubilee from 3rd November 2016 to 3rd November -2017. In January this year, the Managing Director & CEO, Dr U S Awasthi called a meeting and told us about his desire to gift farmers a new service in the form of a digital platform where they would be able to buy agriculture-related products and which would be delivered to the farmer’s doorstep, just like other e-commerce products and communication with the farming & cooperative community in the area of Fertilisers, Bio Fertiliser, Plant Growth Promoters, pesticides, Micro-Nutrients, Water Soluble Fertiliser , insurance etc

We started working immediately on this project without loss of anytime.It was time to work and deliver. Immediately we have engaged M/s. Locovida Digital Solutions Pvt Ltd, Delhi as our design & development partner. As things happened, only a week earlier I had met Gaurav Manchanda from Amazon Web Services, who had explained about the service. We decided to go with AWS as buying was as simple as going to the website, selecting the resources and paying with the credit card. I found this to be very efficient.

Whereas for any other vendor, the buying cycle would have been at least 15-20 days—proposal writing, contract signing and many other formalities. Despite the time constraint, with support from the AWS team, we made our beginning of digital portal running within three days—an exceptional feat by any standards.

I thank both AWS and Umbrella team members for the quick response and commitment with which they swung into action and helped achieve our objective.

What are the current challenges and how do you think technology will help meet the challenges?

As part of our mission to work for the promotion of farmers, we need to disseminate information and enable an information-sharing platform for the community. Majority of our target audience is mix of literate , semi-literate & illiterate farmers and from tier-2 – tier-3 cities therefore the best medium to communicate is video, pictures, images, rather than text heavy material.

This platform enables members to upload videos clips and can be consumed by viewers via any access devices. Our challenge was to extend the platform to a larger audience and manage the unpredictable traffic load and deliver a uniform viewing experience for all viewers, irrespective of location or device. Here AWS technology greatly helped.
Third, since bandwidth is poor in rural areas we are using cutting-edge technology Progressive Web Application, which caches content on user device and enables offline access to website content.

Most of our consumers do not have credit cards or digital payment facilities. We have tied up with Bank of Baroda with pre-paid cards of Rs 2,500 where IFFCO is the guarantor.
 
Let’s discuss your deployment on AWS…

Our AWS deployment has been designed to be highly available as we have placed our deployment in two availability zones. We have used auto scaling to make it highly scalable and Cloud Trail to give us visibility and into tracking and monitoring of resources. We have used VPN for an additional layer of security.

We use AWS Elastic Transcoder to transcode video into different formats, appropriate for the access device. For enhanced performance we have used Elastic Cache and Cloudfront for high-speed delivery of the content.

How has cloud computing helped differentiate your business?

We have experienced dramatic results after leveraging the cloud. Cloud has enabled us to reduce product development cycle drastically. This has enabled us to embark on an aggressive product development program where we do not have to worry about the constraints of infrastructure.

Access to infrastructure resources have increased tremendously, where we are able to click and choose resources we need and initiate projects, without having to wait for budget allocation, procurement approvals, and go through the selection criteria and buying cycle.

Our efficiency has increased significantly since we have reduced so many activities in the physical world which were unproductive and non-core to our primary objective of innovating to better achieve the organization’s mission.

Can you cite specific metrics to highlight the value of partnering with AWS, such as cost and/or time savings? How has cloud enhanced your capabilities?

The most significant benefit of partnering with AWS is that we have not experienced a single downtime since our deployment.

We have world-class infrastructure at a fraction of a cost. Our monthly billing is in the range of Rs 20,000-Rs 35,000—a price point which would not even cover the electricity cost in a traditional environment.

We have significantly reduced the challenges associated with managing resources and security, as backup, security, authentication, disaster recovery are all available with a single vendor.

What has been your experience working with Umbrella? How is Umbrella helping you modernise application and leverage AWS services?

Umbrella has deployed the video streaming solution for us with the objective of enhancing good user experience. Umbrella has good understanding of AWS solutions and brings customer centricity in all its dealings.

Umbrella helped design a secure, scalable and elastic architecture which is has delivered very well. We have not experienced a single incident and this is largely due to the proactive monitoring services Umbrella has put in place.
The solution comprised automating the media ingestion workflow using AWS Lambda.

As soon as a video is uploaded to S3, Lambda initiates Elastic Transcoder to convert the media file into versions that can be played on smartphones, tablets and PCs. This is delivered to users via CloudFront, ensuring an enjoyable viewing experience.