Airbnb is a community marketplace that allows property owners and travelers to connect with each other for the purpose of renting unique vacation spaces around the world. The Airbnb community users’ activities are conducted on the company’s Website and through its iPhone and Android applications. The San Francisco-based Airbnb began operation in 2008 and currently has hundreds of employees across the globe supporting property rentals in nearly 25,000 cities in 192 countries.

Airbnb Scales Infrastructure Automatically Using AWS (3:18)

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A year after Airbnb launched, the company decided to migrate nearly all of its cloud computing functions to Amazon Web Services (AWS) because of service administration challenges experienced with its original provider. Nathan Blecharczyk, Co-founder & CTO of Airbnb says, “Initially, the appeal of AWS was the ease of managing and customizing the stack. It was great to be able to ramp up more servers without having to contact anyone and without having minimum usage commitments. As our company continued to grow, so did our reliance on the AWS cloud and now, we’ve adopted almost all of the features AWS provides. AWS is the easy answer for any Internet business that wants to scale to the next level.”

Airbnb has grown significantly over the last 3 years. To support demand, the company uses 200 Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) instances for its application, memcache, and search servers. Within Amazon EC2, Airbnb is using Elastic Load Balancing, which automatically distributes incoming traffic between multiple Amazon EC2 instances. To easily process and analyze 50 Gigabytes of data daily, Airbnb uses Amazon Elastic MapReduce (Amazon EMR). Airbnb is also using Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3) to house backups and static files, including 10 terabytes of user pictures. To monitor all of its server resources, Airbnb uses Amazon CloudWatch, which allows the company to easily supervise all of its Amazon EC2 assets through the AWS Management Console, Command Line Tools, or a Web services API.

In addition, Airbnb moved its main MySQL database to Amazon Relational Database Service (Amazon RDS). Airbnb chose Amazon RDS because it simplifies much of the time-consuming administrative tasks typically associated with databases. Amazon RDS allows difficult procedures, such as replication and scaling, to be completed with a basic API call or through the AWS Management Console. Airbnb currently has 260 million social connections within Amazon RDS and is using Multi-Availability Zone (Multi-AZ) deployment to further automate its database replication and augment data durability.

Airbnb was able to complete its entire database migration to Amazon RDS with only 15 minutes of downtime. This quick transition was very important to the fast-growing Airbnb because it did not want its community of users to be shut out of its marketplace for an extended period of time. Tobi Knaup, an engineer at Airbnb says, “Because of AWS, there has always been an easy answer (in terms of time required and cost) to scale our site.”

Airbnb believes that AWS saved it the expense of at least one operations position. Additionally, the company states that the flexibility and responsiveness of AWS is helping it to prepare for more growth. Knaup says, “We’ve seen that Amazon Web Services listens to customers’ needs. If the feature does not yet exist, it probably will in a matter of months. The low cost and simplicity of its services made it a no-brainer to switch to the AWS cloud.”

To learn more about how AWS can help your web application needs, visit our Web, Mobile, and Social Apps details page: http://aws.amazon.com/web-mobile-social/.

More information about Airbnb’s migration to Amazon RDS can be found at: http://nerds.airbnb.com/mysql-in-the-cloud-at-airbnb.