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ECAL Achieves Scale and Cuts Compute Costs by 30% Using AWS Copilot and AWS Fargate

2021

For calendar marketing company ECAL, the efficient use of time and resources is critical for customer satisfaction and differentiation in a fast-growing business. So when the company faced increased demand for its services, it looked to Amazon Web Services (AWS) for an infrastructure solution that could help it scale event syncing and accelerate its development process. The company developed a solution that uses AWS Copilot, a command line interface that enables customers to quickly launch and easily manage containerized applications on AWS. Using this solution, ECAL can innovate rapidly without expanding its DevOps resources, thereby improving performance and reducing costs.

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We have over 100 services, all managed using AWS Copilot, running in production and processing billions of events a month without a problem.”

Shak Tiwari
Chief Technology Officer, ECAL

Scaling and Simplifying Workloads Using AWS Copilot

ECAL provides calendar marketing services to major brands, particularly in the sport and event industries, and serves about 10 million users with its team of around 15 employees and contractors. The company syncs millions of events per day to different calendar systems, enabling its publisher customers to deliver timely calendar events and updates to users. “The key differentiator for us is our ability to provide smart calendar communication services in near real time and at scale,” says Shak Tiwari, chief technology officer of ECAL.

To handle increased demand for its sync services, ECAL needed to solve specific scaling issues within its architecture. It also wanted to build an event routing solution to effectively sync events during high traffic peaks caused by major global customer launches. “We wanted to rearchitect a key backend system that handles the syncing of events across 10 million subscribers,” says Tiwari. “The goal was to make the system sufficiently intelligent to determine where and how to queue these events and when to send updates so that it doesn’t block other customers.”

The company, which has been an AWS customer since 2014, was using an open-source infrastructure-as-code tool to manage its AWS infrastructure. However, for its planned routing and scaling improvements, it sought a solution that was less specialized, required fewer DevOps resources, and offered greater developer agility. ECAL also wanted a solution that aligned with its plan to standardize, simplify, and migrate services to serverless infrastructure. Introduced in July 2020, AWS Copilot met these requirements and fit ECAL’s current business context. “Looking at our business strategy, it made sense for us to focus on consolidating on AWS to improve our developer productivity and build the features that differentiate us in the market rather than trying to differentiate at the compute level,” says Tiwari. AWS Copilot also provides service patterns that closely fit ECAL’s workloads for background and scheduled tasks. “The tool fits 90 percent of our use cases out of the box,” says Tiwari. Using the patterns provided by AWS Copilot, ECAL could simplify its architecture on Amazon Elastic Container Service (Amazon ECS), a fully managed container orchestration service that helps customers deploy, manage, and scale containerized applications.

The service patterns from AWS Copilot also helped ECAL quickly and efficiently transition from Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2), which provides secure, resizable compute capacity in the cloud, to AWS Fargate, a serverless compute engine for containers that makes it simple to focus on building applications. By using AWS Fargate, ECAL can improve its scalability and simplify security and operations.

Doing More with Less—and Meeting Customer Needs

The company began implementing the new solution at the start of 2021 and launched its first key project in February 2021. ECAL found AWS Copilot to be straightforward and user friendly. The company was able to onboard its team within 1 day, develop a proof of concept within 2 weeks, and reduce its overall time to market. “Something that would have taken us 12 weeks to do using traditional tools and approaches, we were able to complete in about 4 weeks instead,” says Tiwari. During the solution rollout, ECAL used support from AWS and found the AWS team to be fast and responsive in resolving issues that arose.

To dynamically manage event queues at scale, ECAL incorporated AWS Copilot into its continuous integration / continuous delivery pipeline. By using AWS Copilot and AWS Fargate to handle its load issues during traffic spikes, ECAL gains elasticity and can provide a faster, superior user experience during major launch campaigns and a smoother service experience for its customers. “The solution has reduced demand on our customer support function and delivered increased customer satisfaction,” says Tiwari.

In 5–6 months, ECAL migrated 80 percent of its Amazon EC2–based Amazon ECS workloads to the new solution. Since launching the rearchitected, resource-efficient solution, ECAL saw a 200 percent improvement in scale-out speed using AWS Fargate and a 30 percent reduction in overall compute costs. “It was a very seamless migration, and in the process, we were able to reduce our dependencies on DevOps resources,” says Tiwari. “The developers were able to write code and deploy it faster without waiting for DevOps resources to become available.” Using managed and serverless solutions from AWS, ECAL reduced DevOps-related effort and lowered overall effort for a typical initiative by about 20 percent, producing time and cost savings. Developers now use the solution daily for a range of tasks, including managing asynchronous services and scheduled tasks and conducting load testing. “We have over 100 services, all managed using AWS Copilot, running in production and processing billions of events a month without a problem,” says Tiwari.

Powering Innovation with Agility

Due to the speed, simplicity, and predictability of using AWS Copilot, ECAL has begun experimenting with using AWS Copilot to deploy machine learning tasks and expects to migrate more machine learning workloads to its new infrastructure. One prospective use case involves using machine learning models to make customer-specific predictions and deliver an intelligent recommendation engine to notify customers of the best times to communicate with fans about upcoming events.

Another ongoing benefit for ECAL is its increase in developer productivity. “AWS Copilot deserves more recognition for how much simpler it makes the use of container and serverless technologies for developers,” says Tiwari. “Any new companies setting up their infrastructure stacks with a small development team should seriously consider this option.”


About ECAL

ECAL delivers calendar marketing services that support brands in their efforts to engage consumers through timely, personalized, and actionable calendar communications. It is a small company with a global presence and a user base of around 10 million.

Benefits of AWS

  • Reduced time to market from 12 weeks to 4 weeks
  • Saw a 200% improvement in scale-out speed
  • Reduced DevOps effort, increasing productivity
  • Reduced compute costs by 30% overall
  • Migrated 80% of Amazon EC2 workloads in 5–6 months
  • Delivered elasticity that improved service experience

AWS Services Used

Amazon Copilot

AWS Copilot is a command line interface (CLI) that enables customers to quickly launch and easily manage containerized applications on AWS.

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Amazon ECS

Amazon ECS is a fully managed container orchestration service. Customers use Amazon ECS to run their most sensitive and mission critical applications because of its security, reliability, and scalability.

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AWS Fargate

AWS Fargate is a serverless compute engine for containers that works with both Amazon ECS and Amazon Elastic Kubernetes Service (Amazon EKS). Fargate makes it easy for you to focus on building your applications.

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Amazon EC2

Amazon EC2 is a web service that provides secure, resizable compute capacity in the cloud. It is designed to make web-scale cloud computing easier for developers.

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