FanFight Cuts Costs by 50%, Boosts Daily Revenue by Four Times Using Amazon DynamoDB
Cricket is arguably the most popular sport in India. In 1983, the Indian national cricket team won the Cricket World Cup, and it went on to garner a series of wins from 2002–2013. To allow zealous fans to participate as well as spectate, Akhil Suhag founded the fantasy sports platform FanFight. “We started with the mission of providing a better second screen experience and giving users better ways to be a part of the game happening in front of them,” says Akhil, CEO of FanFight. But just 2 years after the application’s launch, its hybrid database solution buckled during peak traffic of prominent matches, disrupting service for users and generating more work for FanFight’s small team. The company needed to be able to quickly scale on demand—and do so automatically so that its staff could focus their efforts on adding value to the business.
The FanFight team turned to Amazon DynamoDB, a fully managed key-value and document database from Amazon Web Services (AWS). Amazon DynamoDB is popular in the gaming industry because it can scale reliably to millions of concurrent users and requests while delivering single-digit millisecond performance. It naturally fit with FanFight’s existing application architecture based on the serverless AWS Lambda, which executes code when triggered by Amazon DynamoDB. Using this AWS solution, FanFight was able to scale for peak traffic on game days while massively reducing costs and improving staff productivity.
We are a very small team, and we don’t have any DevOps, so Amazon DynamoDB was the perfect solution for us.”
Vice President of Technology, FanFight
Searching for Simplicity and Scalability
FanFight is the second-biggest fantasy sports platform in India, with nearly five million users who create teams, compete against each other, and potentially win cash daily. Cricket is the main sport, but the app also has leagues for basketball, soccer, and kabaddi, a contact sport popular in India. Quizzes engage users and diversify revenue for FanFight during the off-season.
In 2017, FanFight launched with a MongoDB Community Edition database hosted on Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2), a web service that provides secure, resizable compute capacity in the cloud. But in 2018, it switched to MongoDB Atlas, a fully managed cloud database, and used AWS Lambda and Amazon EMR, a cloud big data platform for processing vast amounts of data, to improve scalability and availability. Yet the database still didn’t scale to meet the spikes in activity for high-stakes games—such as the Big Bash League season in January, when FanFight saw up to 100,000 concurrent users in a 30-minute period.
In response, FanFight transitioned to Amazon DynamoDB for its database solution. Using Amazon DynamoDB’s autoscaling capabilities, FanFight could easily accommodate traffic fluctuations without any action or preplanning on the part of its team of fewer than 50 employees. Amazon DynamoDB would function seamlessly alongside AWS Lambda to execute code only when needed, conserving compute resources and therefore money. Amazon DynamoDB’s pay-per-usage model meant FanFight paid only for the resources it consumed. FanFight was also drawn to the fully managed AWS solution because the company didn’t have a DevOps team that could tackle software development and IT operations. “We are a very small team, and we don’t have any DevOps, so Amazon DynamoDB was the perfect solution for us,” says Tushar Dhara, vice president of technology at FanFight. “We don’t have to do anything.” Now AWS takes care of FanFight’s DevOps considerations—such as automating manual tasks, managing a complex environment, and scaling efficiently—so that FanFight can focus on innovation and serving its customers.
Migrating to Amazon DynamoDB Overnight
In December 2019, FanFight migrated to Amazon DynamoDB in less than 4 hours. A week before the migration, the company performed a successful proof-of-concept trial with about 20 million requests to test the solution and check that data would migrate quickly to minimize application downtime. Helping to facilitate the migration were Amazon EMR and Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3), an object storage service that offers industry-leading scalability, data availability, security, and performance. FanFight converted its data—80 million records—using Amazon EMR, then put it into Amazon S3. From there, AWS Lambda ran the data to Amazon DynamoDB.
AWS provided continual support by supplying best practices prior to the migration and monitoring the application during the migration to detect any bumps in the road. Tushar says the AWS team was available in the middle of the night, replying within an hour or two. “Anytime I called the AWS Support team—the Technical Account Manager or solutions architect or anyone—they responded quickly,” he says. “That helped give us a lot of confidence.” FanFight’s AWS Technical Account Manager also connected the company to the right technical experts within AWS, helped identify and mitigate potential risks, and conducted AWS Infrastructure Event Management to facilitate a smoother migration. And with the help of AWS Enterprise Support, which provides 24/7 technical support from high-quality engineers, tools, and technology, FanFight knows it can get the right support whenever it needs it.
Using Amazon DynamoDB, FanFight achieved a simplified structure with one database solution rather than a hybrid of MongoDB Atlas and Amazon EMR. Now the app can scale up to one million writes per second with no service disruption. After migrating to Amazon DynamoDB, FanFight saw optimized API call response time and faster player points updates in the leaderboard. Using Amazon DynamoDB Streams, which captures a time-ordered sequence of item-level modifications in any Amazon DynamoDB table and stores this information in a log for up to 24 hours, FanFight also provided users nearly lag-free real-time transactional push notifications. Because FanFight pays less during low-usage periods, the company cut costs by $450,000 annually when it stepped away from MongoDB Atlas—a 50 percent reduction. Furthermore, FanFight increased daily revenue by four times. But FanFight hasn’t just improved its bottom line; it’s made better use of its resources. “Obviously there are multiple cases where we can use money better,” says Akhil. “It goes into acquisition retention. Processes are streamlined, so everything from support to billing moves to one common place. That takes a lot of headache out of it and lets people focus on important things."
Advancing Using AWS Services
Now that FanFight has migrated to AWS, it can easily try out different services. For additional security, it implemented Amazon Cognito, which adds user sign-up, sign-in, and access control to web and mobile apps quickly and easily, and the research and development (R&D) team is currently considering a data lake built on Amazon S3. “Those are the kinds of things we can do now that we don’t have to check to see if everything is working,” says Tushar. “Team members are free—they can go and R&D other things and put them into our application.”
Running on Amazon DynamoDB, FanFight not only cuts excessive costs and scales comfortably to provide users a seamless experience during peak traffic but also relies on AWS as a managed service provider so that its own team is free to swing the bat and score for its business.
To learn more about Amazon DynamoDB and other AWS purpose-built databases, visit aws.amazon.com/products/databases/.
FanFight is the second-biggest fantasy sports platform in India, with nearly five million users who create teams to compete against each other and potentially win cash daily. The app has leagues for cricket, basketball, soccer, football, and kabaddi.
Benefits of AWS
- Scales up to 1 million writes per second
- Reduced costs by 50%
- Increased per-day revenue by 4x
- Migrated 80 million records with no downtime
AWS Services Used
Amazon DynamoDB is a key-value and document database that delivers single-digit millisecond performance at any scale.
AWS Lambda lets you run code without provisioning or managing servers. You pay only for the compute time you consume.
Amazon EMR is the industry-leading cloud big data platform for processing vast amounts of data using open source tools.
Amazon S3 is an object storage service that offers industry-leading scalability, data availability, security, and performance.
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