Managing rapid growth can be difficult for some small companies but ShareThis, a small group of talented web veterans headquartered in Cincinnati, OH, was able to handle the growth by deploying their architecture on Amazon Web Services (AWS) infrastructure APIs: Amazon S3, Amazon EC2, Amazon SimpleDB, and Amazon SQS.
Before choosing AWS, the ShareThis team did a comprehensive cost analysis across 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. 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, explains their architecture, “In order to take full advantage of AWS you have to build a loosely coupled, fault tolerant system. Architecturally we insist on 2 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 there are intermediate layers that 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, ShareThis currently estimates a savings of $200,000. In addition to the overall cost savings, Ridgeway choose Amazon SimpleDB for several specific reasons, “Zero software costs, minimal staff costs, low barrier to development, responsiveness and reliability; it’s a simple pragmatic solution for a complex problem.”
“With AWS and an internal SOA architecture, it has been easy to meet our growing demand. Amazon Web Services help companies stay focused on their business. Using AWS we spend far less time talking about technology. This lets us focus on our customers instead of computers.”
For more on ShareThis, go to http://sharethis.com or look for the ShareThis icon on websites, blogs and community pages. ShareThis also offers an API to give developers more control over what is being shared.