3scale has used Amazon Web Services (AWS) since it was founded in 2007. Steven Willmott of 3scale says, “AWS allowed our company to grow its infrastructure on demand over time, despite us having only a small amount of seed capital available.” Though 3scale has a small amount of failure resource available to its clients on other cloud-hosted infrastructures, all core operations are on AWS. 3scale does not operate any in-house servers, except for testing or long-term archiving / backup.
Willmott notes, “The decision to use AWS was made during initial system builds early in the life of 3scale. It was clear to us that AWS could provide a scalable platform for our service. It’s not a stretch to say that the flexible, pay-per-hour and scale-up model AWS uses were a key enabler for 3scale’s business. It would have been next to impossible to survive had we needed to invest in fixed capacity early on.”
A further key factor was the ability to control and configure machines at very low levels—giving a very high level of control over instances, which was necessary to optimize infrastructure performance.
3scale currently uses around 25 machine instances of various types across locations in Europe and the U.S., as well as features such as Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3) and Amazon Elastic Block Store (Amazon EBS). The architecture of the internal system is shown in the diagram below.
According to Willmott, the value of AWS shows itself in several ways:
3scale’s solution is implemented using a range of technologies, including Ruby on Rails, Ruby with Sinatra, some elements of C, and open source software tools such as HAPROXY, REDIS, MYSQL, THIN / Event Machine, and MEMCACHED.
Willmott comments, “A particular strength of AWS is that it allows us to custom configure machine images with almost anything on them, rather than being locked into a higher level framework we may not be able to adequately control.”
Through the design process, the 3scale team has learned that it is crucial that the design of the application address scalability issues, and that system architecture lends itself to the linear addition of resources to different tiers.
Willmott says, “Overall, we’re extremely happy with AWS and genuinely believe we would lose significant flexibility and capability without AWS infrastructure. As a startup in the infrastructure space, it allows us to reach much further than we would otherwise be able to.”
To learn more, visit http://www.3scale.net/ .
Added March 17, 2011