With serial entrepreneurs in charge, the team at 99designs knew that the keys to success were in being capital conscious and delivering an exceptional user experience. Lachlan Donald, CTO of 99designs, explains, “Early on, we faced a number of infrastructure issues in our existing hosting facility that was not going to be solved without a large cash outlay and long term lock-in contract. Even if we could justify the cost of a dedicated server solution we had little confidence that the hardware provisioned for us would meet our requirements in the near future.”
The team at 99designs looked at options and was attracted to the flexibility, cost savings, and low barrier to entry of Amazon Web Services (AWS). Donald recalls, “The initial cost of launching our business on AWS was reduced by a factor of 5 when compared to conventional hosting with Rackspace or Mediatemple.”
“To allow our application to scale according to demand we needed to start thinking differently about a few things. As a result, using AWS helped us make a few improvements to our development and software release processes. Additionally we’ve been able to implement many forms of redundancy using various AWS features – these are now standard practice.”
Today, 99designs runs entirely on AWS, utilizing EC2 for a cluster of application servers, database servers and proxy servers. With over 100,000 registered users and growing, the site handles around 200 million individual page requests a month. New images are uploaded by users around the world, roughly every 10 seconds, which are stored in Amazon S3, which is presently holding around a terabyte of data.
Donald summarizes, “Our infrastructure requirements change rapidly due to the agile nature of our business. Amazon Web Services allowed us to stop worrying about infrastructure and concentrate on our business. Rapid growth was no longer a technical hurdle and we could have our important people focus on more important problems, like making our customers happy.”
If you are in need of design services, give 99designs a try, 99designs.com .
(Published December 2009)