AWS Case Study: Twistage
One of the earliest online video platforms, Twistage provides flexible video workflow and management for all kinds of organizations, including media, social networks, and enterprise. The growing company has two offices: a development office in San Francisco and a business headquarters in New York.
Initially, Twistage used a virtual private server configuration at a hosting company to get additional CPU cycles at a relatively low cost. David Wadler, Twistage CEO, says, “The problem is that over-subscribing is wasteful and under-subscribing is dangerous." The company started looking at cloud computing options to deliver scalability and cost savings.
Why Amazon Web Services
Twistage found Amazon Web Services (AWS) could provide what the company needed. "AWS gave us tremendous scale at very low cost, which was a critical success driver in our early days and remains just as important today,” Wadler says.
Twistage now uses Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3) and the Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) platform. The company started as a beta customer and continues to leverage Amazon EC2 in its production environment. “In particular,” says Wadler, “we use Amazon EC2 to spin up and down servers for content ingestion and encoding. We’ve built and extended our own Amazon EC2 provisioning and monitoring system.”
He continues, “We've found AWS to be incredibly flexible. Our business is built on flexibility and adaptability. AWS gives us the tools to change the size of our footprint and increase the speed with which we can roll out additional features while simultaneously saving us money. Amazon EC2 has helped us provide a level of service that we couldn’t easily replicate with other providers.”
When Twistage first implemented its Amazon S3 and Amazon EC2 integration more than four years ago, they were able to develop and release a prototype very quickly. Because the AWS platform is developer friendly, Wadler’s group has been able to constantly improve their integration and extend it even further. The ability to image machines and launch them at will has helped them to design a flexible and powerful system for handling overflow and increasing capacity on both content ingestion and transcoding.
“Our Amazon S3 integration has largely mitigated the need to constantly expand our storage capacity in the traditional way," Wadler says. "And the reliability and resilience of Amazon S3 are very strong points.” In its four years of using AWS for storage, Twistage has only experienced a handful of service interruptions and no long-term data loss. Wadler continues, “With Amazon’s European Union deployments of Amazon S3 and Amazon EC2, we were able to quickly release an EU offering to an existing client without much development effort. With AWS, we have saved many hours as well as many dollars.”
Twistage is currently looking into leveraging Amazon Simple Queue Service (Amazon SQS), Amazon SimpleDB, or MySQL to implement a more fault-tolerant upload system when its main system and database are down. The company is also interested in using Reduced Redundancy Storage (RRS) to store older, less critical files. Wadler says, “Other solutions we are considering are Amazon MapReduce and Amazon EC2 Cluster Compute instances, which we would leverage to assist with computationally expensive processes such as transcoding. We also expect that we will, at some point, integrate with Amazon S3 and Amazon EC2 in Asia.”
Wadler recommends that new AWS users learn about AWS’s security model, invest time in setting up a way to manage keys, take full advantage of available libraries to interact with AWS APIs, and separate applications for images.
“Overall, we have been very pleased with AWS," Wadler says. "As beta testers, we had high hopes for Amazon’s cloud services, and it’s been a delight to see the growth in both the depth and breadth of the offering. Our business involves making the lives of our customers easier, and AWS makes our lives easier. We’re big fans!”
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