Gracenote Simplifies VPC Management and Scalability Using AWS Transit Gateway


Gracenote, a Nielsen Company, provides metadata and automatic content recognition technologies to global enterprises. “Whether it's music, TV, video, or sports, we have descriptive metadata that drives advanced content search and discovery for music services, TV providers, automakers, and other customers,” says Alex Linden Levy, vice president of engineering at Gracenote. The company offers products such as MusicID, a music recognition software that helps deliver artist metadata and cover art to more than a 100 million car audio systems around the world. Gracenote’s database also includes television show descriptions, cast and crew information, movie synopses, and sports statistics.

Gracenote, which runs its business on the Amazon Web Services (AWS) Cloud, has grown quickly, and it creates an Amazon Virtual Private Cloud (Amazon VPC) for each new account and team. To enable this, Gracenote wanted to give each of its engineering teams their own isolated AWS accounts, without having to allow VPC peering for each account back to a shared services account. “Once we created that architecture, it became this spider web of a mess,” says Linden Levy. “We had to peer the VPCs across one another, and it was difficult to maintain. We didn’t want to spend our time managing that—we wanted to focus on delivering new features and growing the business.”

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Setting up accounts used to take five days because of our internal processes.... Now, the entire process takes about 45 minutes because of the automation of AWS Transit Gateway."

Alex Linden Levy
Vice President of Engineering, Gracenote

Using AWS Transit Gateway for VPC Management

To solve this problem, Gracenote implemented AWS Transit Gateway, a service that enables users to create and manage a single connection from a central gateway into each Amazon VPC. AWS Transit Gateway provides a hub-and-spoke model, which simplifies management because each network only needs to connect to the Transit Gateway and not every other network. “AWS Transit Gateway provided the architecture we were looking for, because it enabled us to isolate teams in an AWS account while still giving them the ability to collaborate,” Linden Levy says.

Now when an employee or team requests a new account, the Gracenote IT team can create the account automatically, and the private subnet is routable within the overall Nielsen network. The company takes advantage of AWS Direct Connect to establish a dedicated network connection to its data center for all VPCs. Each private subnet is treated as part of the organization’s standard network, and accounts are isolated without being siloed. Linden Levy says, “Within an account, each team is free to use any AWS service without having to come to our DevOps team to set up permissions for them.”

Reducing Complexity by Automating Account Creation

Using AWS Transit Gateway for its shared services, Gracenote can easily integrate VPCs across accounts, which are managed through a single technology. If someone asks for an AWS account, the IT team creates it automatically and connects it to AWS Transit Gateway, so all production or non-production accounts in an environment can communicate with each other. “We went from having four VPCs in each account to having 200 total accounts, all managed centrally,” says Linden Levy.

With automated account creation, Gracenote can swiftly establish new accounts when engineers are onboarded. “Setting up accounts used to take five days because of our internal processes and the network team that had to do the work,” Linden Levy says. “Now, the entire process takes about 45 minutes because of the automation of AWS Transit Gateway.” As a result, Gracenote engineers can develop and deploy new software features faster than before. “When teams are ready to begin a project, they can have an account in less than an hour, with no consultation necessary from IT,” says Linden Levy. “AWS Transit Gateway has really helped our developers to quickly deliver new features for our customers.”

Moving to New Markets with Ease

The company’s new architecture is also facilitating expansion into new regions, such as Australia. “We signed a contract to supply metadata for a television broadcaster in Sydney, and we were able to provide our software to that customer in 4 hours, instead of the days it would normally take,” says Linden Levy. “That’s a great example of how quickly we can move.” By using AWS Transit Gateway, Gracenote will be able to continue expanding rapidly and offer its services to more customers in additional regions.

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About Gracenote

Based in Emeryville, California, Gracenote provides music, video, and sports metadata and automated content recognition technologies to companies worldwide. Gracenote licenses its software to developers of consumer electronics and online media for integration into media players, home and car stereos, and digital music devices.

Benefits of AWS

  • Creates AWS accounts in 45 minutes instead of 5 days
  • Enables expansion to new markets in 4 hours, not days
  • Empowers engineering teams to use AWS services without assistance from IT
  • Centrally manages 200 accounts
  • Accelerates development of new features

AWS Services Used

AWS Transit Gateway

AWS Transit Gateway is a service that enables customers to connect their Amazon Virtual Private Clouds (VPCs) and their on-premises networks to a single gateway. As you grow the number of workloads running on AWS, you need to be able to scale your networks across multiple accounts and Amazon VPCs to keep up with the growth.

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AWS Direct Connect

AWS Direct Connect is a cloud service solution that makes it easy to establish a dedicated network connection from your premises to AWS.

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Amazon Virtual Private Cloud

Provision a logically isolated section of the AWS cloud where you can launch AWS resources in a virtual network that you define.

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