AWS Public Sector Blog

Alberta Motor Association transforms member experience and optimizes cost on AWS Cloud

Alberta Motor Association transforms member experience and optimizes cost on AWS Cloud

Disclaimer: The content and opinions in this post are in-part those of the third-party authors and AWS is not responsible for the content or accuracy of this post.

The Alberta Motor Association (AMA) is a multi-service member-run organization that provides driving education, rewards, roadside assistance, travel, insurance, banking, and many other member-focused services. Their core mission is defined as “protecting what matters most” to members. Founded in 1926, AMA represents over a million members in Alberta and is the province’s leading advocate for motoring and related consumer issues. For nearly 100 years, its members’ needs have always been the forefront of its activities.

When AMA wanted to launch its community membership — their first true subscription-based membership — AMA decided to rethink its existing membership system. With their in-house software development expertise, they decided to build it themselves. The resulting membership platform was built on Amazon Web Services (AWS) using serverless technologies and event-driven architecture to help scale to meet demand, improve reliability, and reduce overall cost.

The platform’s roll-out took less than seven months and AMA is projected to save a significant amount of infrastructure cost compared to existing monolithic on-premises architecture. Since silently launching the new membership offering, AMA acquired thousands of new members with zero marketing effort.

Building a membership platform solution on AWS

Several years ago, AMA decided to invest in building out an agile software development team focused on developing in the AWS Cloud. AMA’s journey with AWS began over a decade ago, with AWS powering many AMA software products. In building the new membership platform on AWS, AMA transitioned from a synchronous API-driven architecture to an asynchronous, event-driven architecture with microservices. The use of services such as Amazon API Gateway, AWS Lambda, Amazon EventBridge and AWS Step Functions played a key role in the design.

“The use of AWS Step Functions and Amazon EventBridge expedited the development of our membership platform. Step Functions provided seamless orchestration of complex workflows across multiple AWS services, while EventBridge enabled efficient decoupling of components, allowing them to respond asynchronously to changes in our system,” said Eric Bach, senior developer at AMA.

This microservice architecture empowers AMA to develop, deploy, and scale different application components independently. This gives AMA the responsiveness, operational efficiency, and system resilience to quickly evolve and expand member services.

Building an event-driven architecture for membership services on AWS

Figure 1. Architectural diagram of the AMA membership platform’s event-driven architecture.

Figure 1. Architectural diagram of the AMA membership platform’s event-driven architecture.

The AMA membership platform’s architecture design on AWS uses the following workflow:

  1. Members authenticate through Amazon Cognito and access AWS WAF, a web application firewall, which protects front-end applications.
  2. Amazon Route 53 connects internal user requests to front-end applications.
  3. Micro-frontend applications are hosted in Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3) and Amazon CloudFront. Applications communicate with back-end microservices via Amazon API Gateway.
  4. Payment events are routed from a separate AWS account to a membership account using Amazon EventBridge, decoupling the dependency between the two accounts.
  5. Microservices made up of AWS Lambda, Amazon Simple Queue Service, AWS Step Functions, and Amazon Aurora handles membership or customer related requests.

Benefits from building public sector membership services on AWS

1. Cost saving

Moving from on-premises infrastructure to AWS allowed AMA to trade high up-front costs for a consumption-based pricing model, saving significantly on traditional infrastructure. This change enabled the development teams to get creative in cost optimization—from starting and stopping developer database instances on a schedule with Amazon EventBridge rules, to using Amazon Aurora Serverless for workloads in developer environments, to creating ephemeral pull request resources, and more. AMA forecasts more savings as they complete the migration of the remainder of their membership services to the new system.

2. Agility

To deliver a great member experience, AMA needed the ability to experiment, build, and innovate quickly. When the demand for a new membership system became apparent, AMA’s technology team developed the new system from scratch in record time—AMA moved from ideation to roll-out and to welcoming new members in the platform within seven months.

“Adopting serverless technology was a game-changer. It minimized infrastructure management, letting us focus on writing effective code and delivering business value faster. Moving to a microservices architecture enabled us to work on and scale different components independently, improving flexibility and making deployments less risky,” said Ruben Estevez, senior manager of software development at AMA.

In on-premise infrastructure environments, it often takes significant time for the development team to execute resource upgrades and coordinate upgrade actions. By embracing serverless technologies such as AWS Lambda, developers can focus on modernizing the membership platform to deliver business value instead of spending significant effort on operating the infrastructure and worrying about scaling up or down resources. It also changes the way that the developers build applications—the ease of spinning up and scaling down resources makes it possible for teams to swiftly create proof-of-concepts to evaluate different development approaches, leading to more innovations at speed.

3. Streamlining citizen services

“Adopting event-driven architecture allows us to envision a membership platform which can focus on what it should do best—managing memberships and broadcasting membership updates via events. Our business partners can then use those events to creatively cater their services to our members, all without much work from the membership platform team,” said Winnie Ho, senior developer at AMA.

Delivering a novel membership offering that is attractive to Albertans required the collaboration and coordination of many different business teams and departments. To give AMA’s teams the room to get creative, AMA needed to reduce other teams’ dependence on the membership development team to perform integrations. Event-driven architecture enables AMA to do just that.

Instead of making API calls to services managed by development teams in various business units, the membership system publishes events related to different membership lifecycle touchpoints. Event consumers who are interested in any of those events then perform related actions, such as sending a welcome email, requesting a new membership card, and updating internal systems. Using Amazon EventBridge, AMA can now decouple these related actions from the main membership workflow—greatly improving the perceived overall system responsiveness while still maintaining the same expected functionality.

With the rollout of the new system and community membership construct, AMA now provides Albertans a subscription-based way to access money-saving cash back offers, partner discounts, rewards program to more than 165,000 locations worldwide, and expert travel, insurance, registries, and driver education services, along with a robust online, curated community.

Conclusion and next steps

Using AWS, AMA launched a new membership platform using event-driven architecture. This seven-month, multi-development-team project allowed AMA to modernize its foundational membership platform and achieve sizable long-term infrastructure cost savings. Looking forward, AMA plans to continue embracing their collaboration with AWS in continuing the transformation of their membership, point of sale, and agent experiences. Learn more about AMA.

Find out how you can get started with event-driven architecture on AWS.

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Weilling Gu

Weilling Gu

Weiling Gu is solutions architect in Amazon Web Services (AWS). She likes to help customer with their journey in the cloud. She has a developer background and is a builder at heart. In her free time, she likes to build innovative micro-services projects.

Eric Bach

Eric Bach

Eric Bach is a senior software developer for Alberta Motor Association. He is passionate for building highly scalable and performant cloud-native solutions. In his spare time, Eric enjoys writing and contributes to several technical blog publications.

Ruben Estevez

Ruben Estevez

Ruben Estevez is a senior manager of software development at Alberta Motor Association, He is passionate about building teams and fostering innovation through psychological safety, consistent feedback, and a commitment to constant learning.

Winnie Ho

Winnie Ho

Winnie Ho is a senior developer for Alberta Motor Association. She has a strong passion for architecting scalable and resilient event-driven applications. In her free time, she enjoys writing about new serverless technologies, exploring the art of software development, and playing story-rich video games.