GigaVox publishes approximately 60 programs each month and their library holds over 1,800 programs. Depending on popularity, each program may be downloaded between 20,000-250,000 times. With this kind of unexpected usage on a daily basis, GigaVox needed a web-scale computing solution to handle traffic peaks and store a growing number of large media files.
Initially attracted to the scalability and cost-effectiveness of the storage web service, Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3), Doug Kaye, Co-Founder and CTO of GigaVox, started looking at other web-scale computing solutions offered by Amazon Web Services. He soon realized that Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) could fulfill his transcoding and automated show-assembly needs and Amazon Simple Queue Service (Amazon SQS) would serve as the “glue” to communicate between the compute services.
Kaye felt confident building their core business on Amazon Web Services (AWS). “I had confidence that Amazon wouldn’t enter into this business unless they were committed to executing it well.”
GigaVox is currently using Amazon Web Services’ suite of infrastructure web services, Amazon EC2, S3 and SQS, as their long-term infrastructure solution. Kaye recalls, “We launched with our final architecture. Typically a startup will deploy a scaled-down system either because they don’t know how to build large, redundant scalable systems or they can’t afford to do so. Then they have to go through a painful and expensive redesign and redeployment.” GigaVox’s initial effort provided a redundant, infinitely scalable infrastructure that cost less than $100. Kaye states, “Even if we could have done this with a cluster of outsourced managed servers (which still wouldn’t have been as scalable) we would have spent tens of thousands of dollars more.”
From a business perspective, GigaVox preserved a tremendous amount of cash/capital by using Amazon Web Services’ pay-as-you-go model. Building the same infrastructure would have required valuable upfront and ongoing resources and would have delayed their launch.
From the technical side, the solution was easy to implement, reliable, and reduced staffing requirements. Using AWS, GigaVox no longer had to worry about the ongoing maintenance of their company’s infrastructure since the daily management was now being handled by Amazon. GigaVox’s only part-time system administrator says, “I like it because I don’t need to carry a pager.” GigaVox utilized the language-specific libraries and sample applications found in AWS’ Developer Connection to implement Amazon EC2, S3 and SQS into their server-side PHP app and client-side C++/Python app.
Kaye is outspoken about his use of Amazon Web Services and has published a diagram of their architecture. He says, “To be honest, the AWS buzz has benefited us as well. We’re getting a fair amount of attention for using a state-of-the-art service-oriented architecture.”
GigaVox uses Amazon S3 to store all media files from podcasts, videocasts, advertising images, and more. Amazon EC2 is used for transcoding media-file formats, automated show assembly and processing all programs through their SmartDelivery™ system for daily re-distribution. Amazon EC2 is also used to support client-side software allowing customers to securely upload files to GigaVox’s Amazon S3 account. And Amazon SQS acts at the glue between these services monitoring EC2 server instances, queuing transcoding requests, and issuing instructions for program processing.
Kaye says that Amazon Web Services works very well for GigaVox and for the online media industry in general. Amazon S3 is a scalable solution to handle large files and Amazon EC2 is great for transcoding and processing. “On-demand computing (Amazon EC2) is ideal for operations such as transcoding. The granularity of starting/stopping servers (i.e. on an hour-by-hour basis) works well for us.”
Currently, GigaVox is the only player in a rapidly growing industry that offers the full spectrum of podcasting and videocasting tools from production, content-management, ad campaign management, hosting and delivery. Doug Kaye, Chief Technical Officer of GigaVox Media Inc. has written a book on web services entitled Loosely Coupled—The Missing Pieces of Web Services. GigaVox along with their non-profit sister company, The Conversations Network publish IT Conversations, Social Innovation Conversations, among others podcasts and videocasts.For more on GigaVox Media, go to http://gigavox.com/ .