AWS Case Study: FindTheBest.com
FindTheBest.com is an objective comparison engine that allows users to find a topic, compare their options, and decide what option is best for them. Established in May 2009, in Santa Barbara, California, FindTheBest.com has developed more than 400 applications, 33 million listings, and 98 million objective questions and answers. Through its Comparison Apps, FindTheBest.com helps users make informed decisions by providing them with important information regarding a particular topic, and then giving them the proper tools—including sortable categories, smart filters, expert ratings, and other comparison tools—to be able to make the best decision. The Website covers a wide range of topics for comparison from nutrition to ebook readers, the best cities to live in to the best ski resorts—just to name a few.
The previous hosting provider had a two-day system outage, which caused enormous problems for the website. According to Chief Technology Officer Scott Leonard, “FindtheBest.com switched over to Amazon Web Services (AWS) in February 2010 for five main reasons: stability, scalability, flexibility, price, and control.”
Why Amazon Web Services
FindTheBest.com now runs on Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) 64-bit Ubuntu server instance. The server boots from an Amazon Elastic Block Store (Amazon EBS) volume and has an XFS RAID-0 two-volume Amazon EBS storage configuration, with daily snapshot backups to Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3).
For the programming component, the server runs a classic LAMP stack with the addition of an email server and full-text search engine, all monitored by a custom-tuned Nagios/Groundwork setup. The Web server framework is Pressflow Drupal, and all custom development is written in Drupal modules with PHP.
AWS offers a great deal of flexibility on disk space requirements, memory requirements, and CPU requirements—as well as various Amazon EC2 hardware configurations that can be customized for customers’ specific needs. Competitive pricing and the AWS pay-per-hour plan gives customers the ability to bring hardware in and out of service based on load demands. Additionally, AWS gives their customers control over hardware configuration.
As FindTheBest.com’s traffic grows, they plan to deploy additional Amazon EC2 instances running varnish reverse-proxy servers to help offload the primary server. Creating their own private machine images will make deploying additional front-end servers quick and easy using AWS.
Since switching to AWS, FindTheBest.com has not experienced any stability-related issues. The AWS scalability accommodates the website’s steady growth, which is critical for a young, startup company. Leonard believes that “the quick scalability of AWS allows the company to focus on constantly improving its product without having to slow its innovation so the provider can keep up.”
With the many benefits that AWS offers, it’s easy to see why “moving the FindTheBest.com system to AWS has provided us with rock-solid performance and reliability. We have been very impressed with the stability of the system. The ability to provision new machines for additional load or testing quickly and easily is a great benefit that was not available in the providers we used before switching to AWS. Using Amazon EBS and Amazon S3 for our data and backup requirements is a perfect solution for us,” explains Leonard.
"Rock-solid reliability, scalability, flexibility, competitive pricing, and control. Definitely a winning formula."
To learn more about how AWS can help your web application needs, visit our Web Applications details page: http://aws.amazon.com/web-mobile-social.