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ACT Boosts Website Reliability to Process 300% Spike in Traffic

2020

Aksi Cepat Tanggap (ACT) is an Indonesian nonprofit organization with a humanitarian mission to provide disaster relief to people domestically and abroad. It is one of the largest nonprofits in Indonesia, running regular donation campaigns to fund food, medical supplies, and other relief efforts.

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With AWS, ACT can rely on a stable cloud foundation to attract more donations as it continues to pursue its humanitarian mission.”

Yudhi Yuswaldi, IT Program Lead, Aksi Cepat Tanggap

Providing Humanitarian Disaster Relief

When earthquakes, typhoons, or other natural disasters strike Indonesia, Aksi Cepat Tanggap (ACT) is there to help. Based in South Jakarta, ACT is a nonprofit organization that provides food, medical attention, and other first responder assistance in the wake of disasters. Its mission is to create a better society for Indonesia and the world at large.

ACT collects donations mainly through its websites, and third parties handle the payment processing. In addition to its main act.id website, the organization maintains two other websites—indonesiadermawan.id and globalqurban.com. ACT runs disaster-relief fundraisers as well as scheduled donation campaigns, which occur twice a year to coincide with major religious observances in Indonesia. During these times, web traffic can spike up to 300 percent.

The organization was using a local collocated data center, and its team of two engineers struggled to increase compute capacity and memory during big campaigns such as Hari Raya Idul Fitri. Customers could not navigate the website to donate because the servers kept crashing before payment could be processed. ACT wanted a more scalable solution to improve stability and reliability on its websites during surges in traffic.

Offloading Manual Maintenance

ACT’s IT management team determined that moving to the cloud would help offload some of their manual maintenance work, such as provisioning servers to support web traffic. This would also enable the business to focus more on its humanitarian mission.

The organization conducted trials and deployed several of its applications with a few cloud providers, but it ultimately chose to run on Amazon Web Services (AWS) due to recommendations from colleagues that use AWS to support their ecommerce sites. It also received credit grants on AWS through TechSoup, a foundation dedicated to supporting nonprofits with transformative technology.

Migration from the data center to the AWS Cloud took just two months, which was within ACT’s designated timeframe. Engineers received support throughout the process, including guidance for improving backups and building firewalls to boost resilience.

Improving Database Performance

During the migration, ACT started using Amazon Aurora, a cloud-native database service, to facilitate clustering and improve website performance. “It was difficult to do primary-secondary database replicas before, but with Amazon Aurora, we now have low-latency read replicas that make our website faster and more reliable,” says Yudhi Yuswaldi, IT programmer lead at ACT.

The organization also uses Amazon Relational Database Service (Amazon RDS) to automate the scaling of its database’s compute and storage resources without incurring downtime, as well as for development and testing. It chose Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3) as a cost-effective storage medium for video and image footage from its relief efforts.

Scaling Confidently with the AWS Console

Since migrating to AWS in June 2019, ACT has had no instances of downtime on its website, even during large-scale campaigns. “We have feedback from users that our website is much more stable since migrating to AWS,” Yuswaldi says. ACT uses the AWS Management Console to provision new resources, which is simple and fast. Previously, ACT needed 8–10 hours for scaling. It can now achieve the same level of scaling in just 10 minutes on AWS.

The first major test of site reliability came in October 2019 when ACT responded to an earthquake in Indonesia. “Our system greatly improved thanks to the migration to AWS. At that time, many people wanted to donate, and we had to increase the capacity by almost 300 percent. Being able to do that efficiently on AWS was a huge help,” Yuswaldi says. Users can now easily access ACT websites and donate without interruptions or waiting.

Similar to other disasters, ACT was able to respond in an agile fashion when the COVID-19 pandemic struck in Indonesia. It set up a hotline linked to its database that facilitated food deliveries for people in need. It also set up a relief fund administered through its website to support microbusinesses that were struggling to make ends meet. “We received a huge response from people to both campaigns at the same time. This required much greater system capacity, which we could quickly accommodate on AWS,” Yuswaldi says.

Inherent Security Controls

The organization has benefited from the built-in security features for all AWS customers. Last year, management noticed an issue with its billing and consulted its AWS representative for more information. AWS quickly responded by alerting ACT that abnormal server activity had been logged in recent months. With help and alerts from AWS, engineers quickly resolved the issue and reconfigured its firewall to prevent a recurrence.

Growing Its Mission with a Stable Cloud Foundation

Each time a donation is made on one of its websites, ACT sends a confirmation email to the donor. The organization also sends regular marketing emails to update patrons about its activities. To do this, ACT was previously using a third-party email service to deliver up to 100,000 emails per day, but the organization experienced a high rate of bouncebacks and send failures due to hard limits set within that service. In response, ACT is testing Amazon Simple Email Service (Amazon SES) as a scalable solution to send emails.

Now that ACT’s websites are running smoothly, its engineers have time to devote to other projects, including the development of a mobile app based on microservices. They are also developing single-page applications to streamline deployment and improve users’ browsing experience.

Running on the AWS Cloud facilitates such development, with the ease of decoupling applications in the cloud and enhancing data integration between mobile apps and web assets. Yuswaldi says, “With AWS, ACT can rely on a stable cloud foundation to attract more donations as it continues to pursue its humanitarian mission.”


About ACT

ACT is an Indonesian nonprofit organization with a humanitarian mission to provide disaster relief to people domestically and abroad. It is one of the largest nonprofits in Indonesia, running regular donation campaigns to fund food, medical supplies, and other relief efforts.

Benefits of AWS

• Scales websites to support a 300% increase in traffic
• Improves reliability for websites to process donations
• Experiences no website downtime
• Speeds development of new applications and services
• Enhances security posture with alerts to abnormal activity

 


AWS Services Used

Amazon Aurora

Amazon Aurora is a MySQL and PostgreSQL-compatible relational database built for the cloud, that combines the performance and availability of traditional enterprise databases with the simplicity and cost-effectiveness of open source databases.

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Amazon RDS

Amazon RDS makes it easy to set up, operate, and scale a relational database in the cloud. It provides cost-efficient and resizable capacity while automating time-consuming administration tasks such as hardware provisioning, database setup, patching and backups. It frees you to focus on your applications so you can give them the fast performance, high availability, security and compatibility they need.

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Amazon S3

Amazon S3 is an object storage service that offers industry-leading scalability, data availability, security, and performance. Amazon S3 provides easy-to-use management features so you can organize your data and configure finely-tuned access controls to meet your specific business, organizational, and compliance requirements. Amazon S3 is designed for 99.999999999% (11 9's) of durability, and stores data for millions of applications for companies all around the world.

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Amazon SES

Amazon SES is a cost-effective, flexible, and scalable email service that enables developers to send mail from within any application. You can configure Amazon SES quickly to support several email use cases, including transactional, marketing, or mass email communications. Amazon SES's flexible IP deployment and email authentication options help drive higher deliverability and protect sender reputation, while sending analytics measure the impact of each email. With Amazon SES, you can send email securely, globally, and at scale.

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