San Francisco-based startup Urmystar provides television advertising solutions, maintaining “hyper local” television ad networks of Internet-connected television sets that function as real-time information sources for small audiences. Urmystar’s advertising networks provide advertisers access to targeted, high value audiences. Small and medium-sized advertising agencies place content on Urmystar’s television network via the company’s Real-Time Visual Flow technology, which lets agencies create and deploy video on-the-fly from existing images, audio, and other content inventory without the need for complex video production.
Founded in 2008, Urmystar was faced with a challenge common to many struggling start-ups in the tech industry: How do you set up an affordable Web services infrastructure on a budget? Initially, Urmystar settled on a solution running virtual machines on computers leased from a traditional hosting provider. Hosting costs for development, QA and production environments were in excess of $1,200 a month—a prohibitive amount for a new company with zero income. Urmystar needed a solution that was fast, scalable, reliable, easy to use, and most of all, affordable. Urmystar found all that in Amazon Web Services.
“We chose Amazon Web Services because we get access to fast, powerful and scalable infrastructure without any upfront investment. This allows us to pay only for resources we use, maximizes our profits, and enables seamless scaling,” says Eugene Zavadski, Founder and CEO of Urmystar Inc. “The speed, peering, and caching abilities of Amazon S3 and CloudFront are essential to Urmystar’s ability to render customers’ television advertising real-time.”
Today, Urmystar’s core infrastructure is nested in Amazon EC2. According to Zavadski, Urmystar chose Amazon EC2 because of its ability to start and stop any number of servers programmatically, quickly connect to Amazon EC2 servers and Amazon S3, and make machine snapshots and store machine images in the cloud.
Amazon S3 and Amazon CloudFront are used to store and deliver advertising assets and serve as a backbone for Urmystar’s Real-Time Visual Flow technology. Amazon S3 eliminates the need to manage or own any hardware and scales storage as needed. Zavadski is pleased with S3’s “very well documented and easy-to-use API that allows us to integrate quickly.” Amazon CloudFront, the easy-to-use content delivery service, offers further advantages in scale and geographic reach, as Zavadski recalls: “CloudFront automatically gave us working technology in many locations around the world because of peer caching and scaling without upfront investment. CloudFront gave us world-sized scale for next-to-nothing.” He notes specific Amazon CloudFront advantages including:
And what about cost savings, the original driver for abandoning Urmystar’s old hosting solution in favor of Amazon Web Services? “Amazon is saving us thousands of dollars,” states Zavadski. For each 1,000 unique viewers watching 1080p video through locally connected televisions or Internet sites, Urmystar pays about $15 per month. That figure includes hosting for its development, QA and production environments with Amazon S3, Amazon EC2, and Amazon CloudFront. Growing to 10,000 unique viewers would cost $57 per month, and growing to 100,000 unique viewers would only cost $300 per month. Compared to the $1,200 Urmystar had been spending monthly, these figures represent very significant cost savings.
Looking to the future, Urmystar is investigating ways to further incorporate Amazon Web Services into its business, including switching from traditional database services to Amazon Relational Database Service (RDS), as well as building more of its applications on top of Amazon EC2.
Zavadski summarizes the value that Amazon Web Services has added to his business, “Amazon Web Services enabled our Real-Time Visual Flow technology and our company’s business. Amazon Web Services allowed us, a small startup, to think big and realize our dreams.”
To learn more about Urmystar’s real-time Web based TV experience, visit urmystar.com .