Initially, Nealab operated on a combination of dedicated servers and traditional Website hosting. After learning about cloud computing, Nealab tested several options and settled on Amazon Web Services (AWS). The company chose AWS because it does not require its developers to use a particular technology, such as Python or Java. In addition, Nealab was drawn to the scalability, depth of options, and pay-as-you-go payment system offered by AWS.
Stefano Pochet, founder and CEO of Nealab, explains, “Amazon Web Services fits the need for flexibility and reliability required by high-traffic Web applications. In addition, it makes it easier and cheaper to maintain our entire infrastructure.”
Nealab’s application tier is run on Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2). Within Amazon EC2, the company is using the Auto Scaling and Elastic Load Balancing features to handle variations in computing demand. Pochet explains that, “As a Web company, we operate in a very dynamic environment that requires an elastic technological infrastructure capable of adapting to its rapid changes. For example, we had a high peak of traffic in December 2009 on one of our applications. During this peak, our infrastructure simultaneously ran 50 Amazon EC2 instances. Thanks to the elasticity of AWS which has completely removed server deployment and installation processing time, we were able to manage the situation."
The company uses Amazon Relational Database Service (Amazon RDS) in combination with the open source caching system, Memcached, and a custom PHP-based Object Relational Mapping framework to support its persistence layer within its storage tier. Nealab also uses Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3) to store logs and static Web content, such as images and CSS files. In addition, the company employs Amazon Elastic Block Store (Amazon EBS) for storage volumes within its Amazon EC2 instances.
Nealab relies on Amazon CloudWatch to help it to monitor all of its Amazon EC2 instances, Amazon EBS, and Amazon RDS. Amazon CloudWatch provides real-time statistical and graphical views of demand, performance, and resource usage. Currently, the Nealab development team is also exploring options for using the new Amazon Elastic Beanstalk, which further simplifies the deployment and management of applications within AWS.
Pochet credits AWS with helping the company keep its focus on its application platforms, instead of the creation and monitoring of a traditional hardware system. He also sites significant cost savings associated with a decreased need to hire technical staff for server installation and maintenance as a key benefit of the company's relationship with AWS. “We are very pleased with the fast release rate of new features, the readiness of API usage, and the amazing and continuously-enhanced Web-based Management Console," says Pochet. "AWS has allowed us to forget about hardware and focus on software. For us, AWS has really made Web development easier.”
Added March 11, 2011
To learn more, visit http://www.nealab.it/ .