Ep 68 – giffgaff is 1,000 times faster with AWS

This week’s guest

Steve McDonald

Chief Operating & Technology Officer giffgaff

In 2020, award-winning British MVNO giffgaff decided to go all-in on the public cloud with AWS. The bold move sped its software release process by 1000x, allowing it to focus on what matters: its members. Now the company is an all-star player in customer service and cloud innovation.

In this episode, giffgaff’s Chief Operating and Technology Officer Steve McDonald shares the inside story about how the courageous move happened, the challenges giffgaff faced along the way, and lessons learned that other telcos should know. Click play to hear our conversation about:

  • How technical debt was strangling the business [02:20];
  • How long it took to see release success and code improving [07:37];
  • What prompted giffgaff to speed its move to AWS [09:18];
  • What it did reel in cloud costs [12:17]; and
  • What Steve would do differently if he did it all over again [15:35].

Links and Resources

  • You can find the transcript for this episode here.
  • Learn more about giffgaff.
  • Watch my talk from MWC23’s MVNO Summit, SUPERCHARGE your MVNO with personalization. I feature giffgaff’s journey to the public cloud prominently. 
  • Keep up with the company’s IT evolution on its tech blog.
  • Read the 2020 announcement about giffgaff’s plan to go all-in on the public cloud with AWS.
  • Read how pundits said the move was a bad idea. Boy, were they wrong!
  • Get blown away by the performance of Yunchan Lim, the 2022 Cliburn gold medalist, audience award winner, and winner of the award for best performance of a new work
  • Steve McDonald loves Chopin. You know which piano piece I can’t resist? Linus and Lucy by Vince Guaraldi, better known as The Peanuts Song. Which character are you in this clip? I’ve always identified with the twin dancing near Pigpen.

Author’s bio

Steve McDonald is Chief Operating and Technology Officer at giffgaff. Having joined the company in 2017, he is driving significant change and innovation throughout the company. In 2020, he led the network’s milestone move as the first MVNO in Europe to move to Amazon Web Services. He is a motivational and inspirational leader, known for building high performing, agile teams. He uses technology to meet business ambitions by engaging teams across all verticals to apply cutting edge software solutions. Before giffgaff, Steve spearheaded the software development at major brands including Tesco, Sage Pay, and Deutsche Bank.

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The Telco in 20 podcast won a 2022 Gold Hermes Award and was recognized on Forrester’s 2021 list of the Top 100 Channel Podcasts and Feedspot’s Top 10 Telecom Podcasts list.

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Podcast Credits

  • Executive Producer and Host: Danielle Rios Royston, TelcoDR
  • Senior Producer: Lindsay Grubb, TillCo Media
  • Editor/Producer: Alisa Jenkins Wilson, Springboard Marketing
  • Audio Editing: Andrew Condell
  • Associate Producer: Kriselda Dionisio
  • Music: Dyami Wilson

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