AWS Case Study: ZEDO
ZEDO develops innovative technology solutions to help publishers sell and deliver Internet ads. Founded in 1999, ZEDO is an advertising technology partner for premium publishers worldwide. The company is headquartered in San Francisco, CA, and has four research and development centers in Russia and India. ZEDO has been in the Internet advertising industry for over 13 years and has an active presence in the United States, Middle East, India and Southeast Asia
ZEDO has an ad server platform with a variety of products for publishers and another self-service platform for advertisers. The company wanted to be able to combine its platforms, integrate services, and deliver solutions to customers faster, but faced limitations with its legacy system. As Roy de Souza, CEO and co-founder of ZEDO explains, "Publishers rely on us to put ads on their web pages. Our technology platform is critical for our publishers because their advertising revenue flows through our system.”
Why Amazon Web Services
ZEDO began working with Amazon Web Services (AWS) as part of its research efforts. After experimenting with prototypes, the ZEDO team determined that AWS provided the reliability and scalability that they needed to support ZEDO’s globally distributed, high-traffic ad server platform.
By taking advantage of AWS, ZEDO was able to build, test and deploy an ad server platform capable of serving billions of impressions per day in just a few months. The ZEDO team uses Amazon Virtual Private Cloud (Amazon VPC), Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2), Elastic Load Balancing and Auto Scaling to form scalable clusters of servers. “Auto Scaling groups make it easy to deploy new code on a daily basis,” says de Souza. “Developers can innovate, test and deploy without the red tape and logistics around procuring new hardware. The icing on the cake is that they just terminate the servers when they are finished.” Figure 1 demonstrates ZEDO’s architecture.
The ZEDO team uses Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3) to store a variety of data, including archived logs, snapshot backups, and configuration backups. ZEDO uses AWS Identity and Access Management (IAM) with Amazon VPC to help maintain services while preserving security. “By leveraging the compute power of Amazon EC2, ZEDO has been able to build products that can serve hundreds of thousands of requests per second. We can start, stop, and pause the delivery of ads within seconds, and control ad delivery to double digit accuracy —all on a global scale,” says de Souza.
ZEDO also uses AWS CloudFormation and Amazon Simple Queue Service (Amazon SQS) and utilizes Amazon Elastic Map Reduce (Amazon EMR) to build new products and add features to its existing products. “Releases are no longer time-consuming ordeals,” says de Souza. “By using AWS, we are able reach a level of almost continuous deployment.”
“With AWS, a company doesn’t have to spend time thinking about technology infrastructure,” says de Souza. “Using AWS saves you a lot of time and effort so you can focus on your business instead of infrastructure. Integrating our services on a single platform running on AWS makes it easier for our customers to choose one or several products,” he continues. “We can upsell more easily.”
ZEDO also reports that by using AWS, the company has the capability of more detailed ad targeting and can make changes to ads worldwide within minutes. “Our quality of service has improved,” comments de Souza. “Ad calls that would typically consist of three to five object requests prior to AWS have been reduced to just one request because we don’t need to cache everything and can make real time decisions. Fewer calls mean an almost 50 percent improvement in ad delivery time.”
According to ZEDO, it’s also easier for the development team to access different parts of the service, and as a result, developers are able to roll out new features faster than before. Products and features are also being built around Amazon CloudFront. “Since migrating to AWS, our operating costs have decreased by about 40 percent,” says de Souza. ZEDO is equally enthusiastic about AWS Support. "AWS has been fantastic in advising us about our architecture,” de Souza says. “We have definitely seen improvements in our system by working with the AWS Support team.”
ZEDO credits AWS with removing barriers that the company faced with its legacy system. “We have far fewer limitations,” says de Souza. “Without a service like AWS, it would be hard to build a real-time decision-making ad server at a reasonable cost, without buying data centers around the world and negotiating with multiple parties. Our new system, running on AWS, gives us more flexibility for innovation, room for growth, and reduces our data center costs.”
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