Grupanya Case Study
Grupanya, based in Turkey, uses the group buying power of consumers to offer discounts on goods and services from big brands, as well as local businesses—similar to Groupon. The company was founded in 2010 by web developer and entrepreneur Baran Dilber, and has grown to become one of the largest e-commerce companies in Turkey with nearly three million subscribers and 7.5-percent monthly growth in active mobile users. It offers its service via web and mobile sites, as well as apps for both iOS and Android.
Moving to AWS has been great for our availability."
Grupanya launched as one of the first group-discount sites in Turkey, but after only one year, it had close to 100 competitors. Eventually that field shrank, leaving Grupanya as one of the largest companies in the sector. Dilber attributes his firm’s survival and success to two factors. "We work with some of the biggest brands in the world—names that you wouldn't normally see discounted," he says. "But we’ve also stayed competitive by being lean. We grew from five to 100 employees in our first year, but have now downsized so there are just 40 of us. Scaling to match our growth was a huge challenge, and our IT was no exception to this."
Until recently, Grupanya ran all its infrastructure with a local hosting provider based in the same building as its offices, but found that a traditional hosting model was proving inflexible. "One of our main competitive advantages is our ability to act fast," says Dilber. "If a client wants something, we have to try to deploy it that day. With a fixed infrastructure, that could be difficult."
Why Amazon Web Services
Dilber and his colleagues had already been using Amazon Web Services (AWS) in the form of Amazon CloudSearch, and had considered moving Grupanya’s entire infrastructure to the cloud to achieve greater agility. After a few outages with their existing provider, they decided to migrate. “The transition was painless,” says Dilber. “We didn’t run into any issues—it was a lot smoother than I expected.”
Grupanya uses Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) to run its web servers, mobile sites, and apps. It also uses Amazon DynamoDB to store session logs, and Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3) for fully redundant data storage. All cloud resources reside within the Amazon Virtual Private Cloud (Amazon VPC).
With most of its infrastructure running on AWS, Dilber is confident Grupanya is more flexible and can offer a more reliable service to customers.
"It's easy to launch instances to test new ideas," says Dilber. "For example, one of our goals was separating web and mobile API services. Since we moved to AWS, our mobile revenue has actually overtaken our web revenue. Our old architecture relied on the same servers for all platforms. With AWS, we're running separate instances for each service, and we can scale much more efficiently."
The elasticity of AWS is especially important during busy periods such as Ramadan, when Grupanya experiences huge increases in traffic as people shop for deals. "We expect our traffic to spike by 100 percent for around a month during Ramadan," says Dilber. "So we'll temporarily scale up. We weren't able to do that so easily in the past, so it was always a tricky period for us."
This efficiency extends to the way in which Grupanya manages its infrastructure. "Until the AWS migration, we regularly outsourced development and maintenance work at considerable cost," Dilber says. "This need has reduced considerably—in fact, we haven't used outsourced personnel since we moved to the cloud." Dilber recalls one incident with the previous infrastructure where a faulty network interface on a server took months to diagnose. "That simply wouldn’t happen in our AWS cloud environment," he says.
Grupanya has also said goodbye to costly outages. Less than one week after the move, its old provider had half a day of downtime. "Moving to AWS has been great for our availability," says Dilber. "Before migrating to AWS, we had two outages in a year. After the migration, we haven't had any outage yet." He is confident that as the company continues to grow, it will take advantage of additional AWS technologies. "We recently did some experiments for our recommendation engine using Hadoop on AWS," he says. "Overall, our experience has been great."
Grupanya, based in Turkey, uses the group buying power of consumers to offer discounts on goods and services from big brands, as well as local businesses—similar to Groupon.
AWS Services Used
Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3) is an object storage service that offers industry-leading scalability, data availability, security, and performance.
Amazon CloudSearch is a managed service in the AWS Cloud that makes it simple and cost-effective to set up, manage, and scale a search solution for your website or application.
Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) is a web service that provides secure, resizable compute capacity in the cloud.
Amazon DynamoDB is a key-value and document database that delivers single-digit millisecond performance at any scale.
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