Rover.com was founded by dog lovers who saw an opportunity to fill a niche between kennels and high-end doggie retreats by offering an online marketplace that pet owners can use to find home-based pet care. It’s free to list pet sitting services on Rover.com; the company charges a fee for each booking made through the site. Rover.com launched in Seattle, WA in 2011 and today has more than 30,000 pet sitters in its system across the United States.

Once Rover.com gained traction in Seattle, the company focused on expanding its business to the top 25 cities in the United States. “In the beginning, we went to local dog parks to meet dog sitters and recruit them for the service,” says Scott Porad, SVP of Product Development. “Going forward, we knew we had to use advertising and other more traditional marketing methods to attract pet sitters in other cities. We needed a hassle-free IT environment so we could concentrate on growing the business.”

Rover.com’s founders migrated to Amazon Web Services (AWS) to build Rover’s web application. The founders considered a co-location service but ultimately decided that it wasn’t worth the time and opportunity costs that they would have to spend to manage this type of solution. “Rover picked AWS because it’s the fastest way to get up and running,” says Porad. “The founders participated in a Startup Weekend event in 2011 to pitch the idea and built the web application using AWS over the course of the weekend. We’re still using the same infrastructure today.”

Customers can visit Rover.com, create a pet profile, and upload pictures. The website has search and filtering options, and customers can use Rover.com’s messaging service to exchange information with pet sitters. Developers used Python and Django, a web application framework, to build Rover.com. The web application uses Amazon Route 53 for its DNS service and processes requests on application servers running on Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) instances. Rover.com routes requests through MySQL databases running on Amazon Relational Database Service (Amazon RDS) and uses Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3) to back up the site and store images. Figure 1 demonstrates Rover.com’s architecture on AWS.

rover-arch-diagram

Figure 1: Rover.com Architecture Diagram

“The main benefit of AWS is how little time we spend managing the infrastructure,” reports Porad. “The company has 24 employees and there are only 6 people on the engineering team. The time they spend managing the infrastructure practically approaches zero. IT overhead averages a couple of hours some weeks, and there are many weeks in which the engineers don’t spend any time on the infrastructure.”

After less than two years, Rover.com is available in 90 percent of the zip codes in the United States. “If you design for the cloud from the ground up, it makes growing less painful,” comments Porad. “We had a press release earlier in the year that generated a lot of traffic to our site. We were able to handle a traffic spike five times higher than normal without any issues.”

“Starting a business is hard,” says Porad. “Using AWS helped enabled us to devote resources to directly growing the business.”

To learn more about how AWS can help build your business, visit our Startup details page: http://aws.amazon.com/start-ups/.