ShareThis, headquartered in Ohio, believes that sharing should be for everyone, and they are making it possible by giving consumers a one click way to instantly post, tag and send content via email, instant messaging, text messaging (SMS). Content can also be easily posted to a blog or to one of the numerous social networks such as MySpace or FaceBook. Consumers can share directly from a ShareThis button on their toolbar or click on any ShareThis button deployed on over 30,000 websites. Since ShareThis launched in 2007, the company has seen unprecedented growth showing just how high the demand is for this new, simple way to share information.

Managing rapid growth can be difficult for some small companies, and ShareThis wanted to both prepare for success and avoid significant time and cost constraints. The company took a look at its goals and performed a comprehensive cost analysis across the following three scenarios.

Option 1: Build a proprietary storage framework

Option 2: Buy network storage devices

Option 3: Use a cloud based-approach on Amazon Web Services (AWS)

In the first two scenarios, time and money became big blockers, but in Option 3, AWS eliminated the time and cost constraints even with growth projected out two years. After this in-depth analysis, ShareThis concluded that there were also enormous cost savings with AWS by having fewer operational staffing requirements.

Jay Ridgeway, Chief Architect for ShareThis, says, “In order to take full advantage of AWS, you have to build a loosely coupled, fault tolerant system. Architecturally we insist on two instances of every service and do not allow local resource sharing. This helps people drink the SOA Kool-Aid. AWS is not accessed directly by the application tier; instead, intermediate layers massage those services into application terms.”

Amazon EC2 is used for nearly all services except mail. Amazon S3 is used for storage of shared objects, log files, database dumps etc. Amazon SimpleDB is in place for publisher reporting, but also for object attribute search and general list management. The aggregators sum instances of each event type by publisher and update SimpleDB on day boundaries. Amazon SQS is the glue that holds it all together. This is by far the most important service, and I’m surprised I don’t hear more about it from the development community. We use it for job control, synchronization and general impedance matching.”

The benefit of this architecture is tangible, Ridgeway says: ShareThis currently estimates a savings of $200,000 owing to its use of AWS.

In addition to the overall cost savings, Ridgeway choose Amazon SimpleDB for several specific reasons. “With zero software costs, minimal staff costs, low barrier to development, responsiveness and reliability, it’s a simple pragmatic solution for a complex problem,” Ridgeway says.

“With AWS and an internal SOA architecture, it has been easy to meet our growing demand," Ridgeway says. "By using AWS, we spend far less time talking about technology. This lets us focus on our customers instead of computers.”

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