Since making the first mobile phone call in the UK in 1985, Vodafone has grown into a multinational telecommunications company with over 625 million mobile customers and nearly 50 million broadband and TV customers.
Today, Vodafone Spain is working on Project Dracarys, a new client communications platform that will operate 100% in the cloud. When complete, Dracarys will be the only tool Vodafone uses globally to send communications to its customers.
Yolanda Fernández is the product owner of Dracarys and also a former technical lead. She spoke with me to explain what Dracarys is and why Vodafone chose Couchbase to be the database at its core.
Couchbase Is the Center of a Complex System
Every year, Vodafone Spain sends its customers 36,000 emails, hundreds of thousands of push notifications, and millions of SMS messages.
The objective of Dracarys, explained Yolanda, is to have all those communications unified and identified for all Vodafone departments. This approach allows Vodafone to avoid over-communicating with customers and gives each department better control over the communications the company sends. In addition, Vodafone will be able to personalize their communications according to each customer’s preferences for SMS, RCS, email and push notifications.
While Dracarys is intended primarily as a communications management tool, in reality it’s a whole lot more. It’s also a web manager with distinct access profiles for each area of the business. It’s an API for external public services. It’s a data storage and analytics database that enables Vodafone to learn from customers what communications they like and don’t like to receive. And it’s a single monitoring dashboard that allows the team to visualize the status of the platform in real time.
At the center of this complex and interconnected system sits the database, so it was critical to choose one carefully.
“There were three main reasons we knew Couchbase’s NoSQL database was the right choice,” Yolanda told me. “Couchbase provides blazing speed thanks to its in-memory processing. Its scalability is easy to manage. And Couchbase’s auto-failover raises a replica without losing data if a node fails.”
Agile Development for Rapid Growth
Vodafone launched Project Dracarys with Couchbase in October 2017 and went live with SMS and push notifications in the spring of 2018. Between August and October of that year they re-engineered their indexes, and in October they added an email channel to the platform.
By October 2019, the Dracarys team added two additional nodes to their Couchbase cluster in order to handle exponential growth in their customer communications. That raised their total number of nodes to six, split evenly between data nodes and indexing nodes. Now, the team is hard at work adding additional communications channels to the platform.
Project Dracarys has been so successful that Vodafone now considers the use of Couchbase a best practice. For other businesses considering Couchbase for their use cases, Yolanda has two simple pieces of advice.
“Couchbase is ideal for projects that need a fast read/write database,” she said. “And I also recommend taking advantage of the distributed database for scaling products and projects that are expected to experience rapid growth in data volume.”
Check out these additional telco case studies to discover how other telecommunications companies use Couchbase to build mission-critical applications.