Using Cleeng’s online platform, content owners, broadcasters, and publishers can sell video content both live and on demand. The company has clients all over the globe, including FIFA, the international governing body of soccer; the American Marketing Association; and the British Basketball League. The Cleeng platform gives these customers the tools to deliver a great video experience to audiences, while monetizing their content through pay-per-view and subscription-based services. Established in 2011, the company has offices in Poland, Amsterdam, France, and the United States.
Delivering and monetizing live pay-per-view (PPV) content for its customers is particularly challenging for Cleeng, requiring huge amounts of storage and bandwidth. High availability and reliability are key for PPV. It takes only one failure for a customer to lose confidence and seek services from a competitor.
Mateusz Tymek, lead developer at Cleeng, says, “Initially, we had a traditional approach to IT. We deployed a few dedicated servers, and that was fine in the beginning. But very quickly we realized this setup wouldn’t work for larger volumes.”
Cleeng wanted to scale its business, but didn’t want to pay for resources that would sit idle, guess the capacity it would need, nor make a large capital investment upfront. To ensure it could onboard customers with confidence and provide them with a reliable, competitively priced service, Cleeng needed to take advantage of a platform that could scale flexibly on demand.
In 2012, Cleeng started to explore cloud services, using one of its customers’ large live events as a test. It chose to set up an infrastructure on Amazon Web Services (AWS), using Auto Scaling and Elastic Load Balancing with Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2), as well as the Amazon DynamoDB database service. “This initial project was a great success, and it confirmed that AWS was the right platform on which to build our environment,” says Tymek. “It had the right balance of price and features, plus there’s also a huge community around AWS and excellent documentation.”
Cleeng picked AWS Partner Network (APN) Consulting Partner Hostersi to help it design and implement its architecture on AWS. “Another reason we chose AWS,” says Tymek, “is because of the availability of expertise. It was easy to find a certified partner like Hostersi in Poland, which was crucial for us.”
In addition to Amazon EC2, Cleeng also uses Amazon Relational Database Service (Amazon RDS) and Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3), which sit within an Amazon Virtual Private Cloud (Amazon VPC). To maintain high availability, it uses multiple Availability Zones in the U.S. East (N. Virginia) region.
The infrastructure is managed through AWS OpsWorks, and monitoring via Amazon CloudWatch helps ensure that Cleeng has “access to real-time data on system health that allows us to react to issues before they affect our clients,” says Tymek. “When we ran dedicated servers, we had to use third-party monitoring software. But with AWS, everything is in one place. Amazon CloudWatch tells us all we need to know.”
Tymek says the best part of the infrastructure is “our ability to scale through Auto Scaling and Elastic Load Balancing. It’s significantly improved. We just set the parameters and the system does the rest. We don’t have to worry about having enough capacity to cope with any level of demand.”
To illustrate his point about scalability, Tymek talks about how Cleeng recently supported a PPV showing of a soccer match featuring Chivas, one of the largest teams in Mexico. “We measure load in transactions, one transaction being the steps it takes for a user to register, checkout, and watch the video. For the Chivas match, we scaled up to 100,000 transactions an hour.”
This was a big challenge for the Cleeng platform, but the infrastructure can manage a lot more.
“We’ve load-tested our infrastructure on AWS and proved that we can handle almost two million transactions an hour, which is equivalent to 40 instances, and about 10 times the capacity we ever expect to need,” says Tymek. “This gives our customers confidence that our service won’t let them down when traffic is high. After all, you can’t get teams to replay a soccer match because your online-video platform crashed and paying viewers missed it.” Having load-tested its environment, Cleeng also has confidence that it can easily meet any customer requirements, no matter the size.
In addition, Cleeng is saving money compared with its previous infrastructure, because it pays only for the instances it uses rather than having to maintain resources 24x7. “This is very liberating for us. Having no upfront costs means we have more money to spend on delivering a high-quality service to our clients,” says Tymek. “In addition, we’ve saved 30 percent by using Amazon EC2 Reserved Instances.” This is what he calls a “high impact, low effort” win for his team, because it was achieved through just two hours of experimenting with the Reserved Instances tool.
Ongoing advice from AWS partner Hostersi helps Cleeng ensure that its platform is optimized to give it an edge in the competitive digital content market. “We aim for, and achieve, ‘four nines’ availability,” says Tymek. “Since we moved to AWS in 2012, we haven’t had an issue with service delivery.”
Cleeng plans to take advantage of more AWS offerings in the future. “We love the fact that AWS keeps innovating and releasing new services,” Tymek concludes. “For example, Docker has grown in popularity only recently, and we’ve already seen AWS providing a container service. It’s something we will be exploring really soon.”
• A Consulting Partner of the AWS Partner Network (APN). Poland-based Hostersi designs high-availability cloud solutions to help its customers minimize risk.
• For more information about how Hostersi can help you transition to the cloud, see Hostersi’s listing in the AWS Partner Directory.