Chute helps developers, brands, publishers and agencies capture and publish real-time content on more than 3,000 mobile and web applications. Developers use Chute to build applications that can share visual content on both iOS and Android, and businesses use Chute for brand engagement campaigns, facilitating online commenting, sharing and moderation of images. The company, whose clients include the NBA, Nike, CNN, The New York Times, and Condé Nast, is headquartered in San Francisco, California.

Chute opened in 2011 to offer app developers a back-end infrastructure on which to build robust media functionality. Chute founders Gregarious Narain and Ranvir Gujral needed to run the service on the cloud in order to scale to meet peaks in demand—and they wanted to be sure customers felt comfortable with Chute’s technology stack. “We knew we needed to be on a very large cloud provider who offered a lot of flexibility,” Gujral says. “Customers like CNN needed to know they could scale up even during election season, when hundreds of thousands of photographs are being posted.”

“With other providers, there were challenges in terms of provisioning resources,” Gujral says. “We couldn’t afford that risk in any part of the infrastructure.” Using AWS gave Chute the flexibility to expand its services to enterprises that needed a ready-made solution for launching media-sharing applications—allowing them to harness real-time visual content. “AWS was critical to us as a start-up,” Narain says.

“AWS was vital to Chute’s expansion—the AWS cloud provides an opportunity for fast, easy and low-cost experimentation, and our customers require that,” Gujral says. “Our enterprise customers may not know what resources they will need or when they will need it before they begin. Using AWS allows them, and us, to experiment with spinning resources up and down.”

Chute uses Ruby on Rails and several large PostgreSQL instances that run on Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2). The company uses about 70 EC2 instances, including instances for Hadoop analytics, an image processing layer, a media routing layer, API servers, data services, and backup. Chute manages more than 500,000 images a day, but during spikes it can jump as high as 4 million photos in one day. Using AWS allows the company to expand and contract the number of servers required to keep a customer’s campaign running smoothly.

For storage, the company employs Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3) and Amazon EBS Provisioned IOPS (PIOPS) for fast, predictable, and consistent throughput performance. Chute adds between two and three million assets each week to its Amazon S3 storage; currently, the company stores about 600 million assets, about 2 TB of metadata. “We needed to have a way to write data really fast,” Narain says. “So we use PIOPS to get the kind of bandwidth and throughput we need.”

Chute offers developers a complete API and SDKs for both iOS and Android.

“When we tell prospective customers that we’re using AWS, it reassures them,” Gujral says. “Using AWS is like having a seal of approval on our business.” Narain adds, “By using AWS, our customers can scale to upload millions of photographs. For example, during Hurricane Sandy we were able to quickly add more servers to support the high volume of photos people were sharing during and immediately following the super storm.”

Chute has steadily grown its revenue by 40% month over month since early 2012.

AWS also helps provide Chute with the availability that its customers require. “We need to always be running,” Narain says. “When you’re a start-up, you have to be nimble, and you have to be always up. Using AWS helps us do that, even though we’re at 2 TB of data and rising.”

The company also requires low latency, which it obtains using AWS. “Banner ads are pushed all the way to the front of the network and then cached,” Narain says. “Dynamic content is always changing—and that’s our market promise: that your content will always be fresh. Using AWS helps us deliver on that promise.”

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