We have reduced our development costs by 25% with AWS. Furthermore, we can now spin up new cloud environments in minutes. 
Atul Narang Founder and Chief Information Officer

Launched in 2015, HashChing is an online financial marketplace for people to access pre-negotiated home-loan deals in Australia. The company, which received venture capital funding in early 2016 from Sapien Ventures, offers a free online service that connects consumers directly with licensed mortgage brokers, and enables them to access better deals. HashChing’s website attracts approximately 45 thousand unique visitors each month and has processed more than three thousand home-loan applications worth approximately AU$1.5 billion. 

Like all startup companies, HashChing faced the immediate challenge of resourcing. As an online company, its business model depends on a highly scalable IT environment that is reliable and low-cost. Furthermore, with monthly updates planned for the website, the company needed an efficient way to deploy website updates.

“We looked for a cloud service to enable us to scale our infrastructure cost-effectively and overcome any spikes in visitor numbers. I wanted to follow a blue-green deployment approach where we could create a second environment that was running the next code release, and flip user traffic over to that environment from the production environment when the code was ready. This would allow us to carry out updates without taking the platform offline,” says Atul Narang, founder and chief information officer at HashChing.

Before deciding on Amazon Web Services (AWS), HashChing looked at other cloud-service providers. However, these providers could not match the services offered by AWS, particularly the AWS Activate program, which is designed for startups. The program offers multiple packages, some of which provide credits to be used against AWS services. AWS Activate program members are entitled to AWS training, including AWS Technical and Business Essentials, to gain a deep understanding of cloud infrastructures and AWS services. In the case of HashChing, it also acquired access to AWS Support with the Business Support Plan. “The AWS Activate program exceeded our expectations. The close support from AWS has been excellent from day one, and the training provided the insight to make every IT dollar really count,” says Narang.

HashChing uses Amazon Route 53 to resolve incoming website traffic, which is then distributed across instances of Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) using Elastic Load Balancing. Amazon Relational Database Service (Amazon RDS) is the main data source for the website code. HashChing also uses Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3) to store static resources. HashChing has adopted AWS CloudFormation and AWS CodeDeploy to spin up environments quickly and enable a blue-green deployment process. 

Within its first year, HashChing saw its site visitors increase from five thousand to 45 thousand. “We have successfully scaled our IT and grown our startup with the support of AWS and the AWS Activate program. Crucially, we’ve avoided the costs of pre-provisioning an on-premises solution to enable expansion,” says Narang.

The company has also received support through AWS Activate to help maximize performance. Says Narang, “We were missing some code every time the team ran a deployment because the original Amazon EC2 setup wasn’t done correctly by the third-party provider. We used AWS Support to identify and resolve the issue. Likewise, the AWS Support team advised us to switch to solid-state drives on the storage, and we’re seeing much better performance.”

HashChing is able to introduce monthly updates to its site without taking the site offline. Says Narang, “When we first created the site, we had to take it down three hours each week for updates. Now with AWS, that number is down to zero, and visitors can access our services 24/7.”

Because the company follows a blue-green development approach, expense is significantly reduced. “We have reduced our development costs by 25 percent with AWS. Furthermore, we can now spin up new cloud environments in minutes,” says Narang,

The company is now working toward the upcoming launch of its HashChing 2.0 website. The new site will offer additional financial services beyond home loans. “We can extend our relationships with large financial institutions now that we have AWS behind us, to deliver the performance and security these organizations are looking for,” says Narang.

To learn more about how AWS can help with websites, visit our Cloud Website Hosting details page. To learn more about how AWS Activate can help your startup company, visit our AWS Activate page.