How have you incorporated Amazon Web Services (AWS) as part of your architecture? What services are you using, and how? We use Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) instances combined with Amazon Elastic Block Store (Amazon EBS) to run our Web and database servers. We also use Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3) to indefinitely archive binary and text information that we collect on behalf of our users.
What programming languages and tools did you use to build this solution? We use PHP and MySQL server templates managed through Rightscale. Our AWS libraries were developed internally.
What were you using for your infrastructure prior to using AWS? Previously, we were running on a single physical server. Now, we are running 100% on Amazon Web Services (AWS).
Why did you choose AWS? We needed a platform that could scale, but we didn’t know how our network would need to grow. Amazon EC2 gave us the ability to add and upgrade instances as needed. We were also attracted to the concept of planned failure, forcing us to prepare for servers to disappear. Using Rightscale’s control panel, we can recover a lost server in a few minutes, and because the servers are templated, the configuration is documented and automatic.
How has AWS helped your business? AWS lets us outsource server hardware and hosting, so we don’t need to hire anyone to perform that function. We average about 150 instances full time.
Have you learned any valuable lessons during the AWS development process that you’d like to pass on to other developers? "Planned failure" is an advantage. Managing physical servers should not be part of your business process unless you are a hosting provider. Use Rightscale.
Do you have any future plans to incorporate other AWS solutions? We are considering Amazon CloudFront to host static files for our global user base.
Is there anything else you would like to add? AWS provides a flexible server platform that can be scaled horizontally, vertically, or anything in between. We can quickly pivot our network design as our service grows and changes in ways we didn’t predict.
AWS played a crucial role in helping us to grow as a bootstrapped startup. Now, as a profitable company—well out of the startup stage—it continues to play a crucial role in the success of our business. We see AWS as a growth partner, providing us exactly what we need when we need it, at an affordable price.
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Added May 18, 2011