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Lalamove Rapidly Expands to Over 20 Cities in 5 Years on AWS

2021

By choosing AWS as its preferred cloud provider, Lalamove has expanded to more than 20 cities over five years while improving productivity by 20 percent. The Lalamove mobile and web apps provide on-demand logistics services with a network of more than 700,000 delivery partners across the globe. The Hong Kong-based company is using Amazon EKS to standardize management of its microservices, Amazon Aurora as its main database engine, and Amazon ElastiCache to support real-time app updates. 

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Because AWS has a global footprint, we’ve been able to enter new markets with just a few clicks by launching virtual machines in each region.”

Alex Fok
Director of Engineering, Lalamove

On-Demand Logistics Services in Just 15 Minutes

Lalamove was founded in 2013 as an app to place on-demand, same-day, and advanced order deliveries by connecting customers with a fleet of drivers and their vehicles. Until then, people in Hong Kong—a city of 7.5 million residents with a low car-ownership rate—had to call up logistics companies to book a vehicle for transporting goods. Finding a vehicle and driver could take hours.
 
Today, the on-demand market continues to expand to new industries and is facilitated by a wide range of two-wheeled and four-wheeled vehicles. On-demand logistics services are now available in most countries. To suit the particular needs of each country, Lalamove provides a variety of delivery vehicles, including motorcycle couriers, SUVs, vans, and even larger lorries and trucks.

Kubernetes Standardizes Global Infrastructure

Lalamove has been gradually expanding each year, and now serves 7 million registered users in more than 20 cities across the globe. In 2016, the company began using Amazon Web Services (AWS) to improve scalability and better manage its international operation. “Because AWS has a global footprint, we’ve been able to enter new markets with just a few clicks by launching virtual machines in each region,” says Alex Fok, director of engineering at Lalamove. “We can centralize our technical team in Hong Kong and log in through the dashboard to control everything virtually.”
 
Time to launch varies based on the complexity of each market, but now Lalamove can be up and running in a new city in just a few days. Shortly after migrating to AWS, Lalamove containerized their applications and began using Amazon Elastic Kubernetes Service (Amazon EKS) to manage Kubernetes workloads in a cost-efficient manner.
 
Currently, the company maintains more than 100 containerized microservices, and this figure continues to rise. “Once we adopted Kubernetes and Amazon EKS, we could standardize all the microservices and reduce time spent on building and maintaining infrastructure. It’s also eased communication among engineers in different locations,” Fok says. Lalamove has seen a 20 percent increase in productivity since implementing containers and Amazon EKS. Furthermore, the business can release new features or updates every two weeks and has reduced the time required for releases by at least 10 percent.

Cloud-Native Database Enables Real-Time Updates

A year or two after transitioning to Kubernetes, Lalamove started looking to improve database performance. The delivery business is highly seasonal, with demand increasing according to different patterns in each market. Traffic to Lalamove’s app and website can spike up to 400 percent during local holidays, which caused bottlenecks that affected performance. The company solved the issue by migrating their databases to Amazon Aurora, with Multi Availability Zones (Multi-AZs) enabled.
 
Low-latency read replicas now boost performance during high-activity periods on the app, such as when users check for real-time updates on delivery status or driver location. Used in conjunction with Amazon ElastiCache, Lalamove’s database returns results faster and autoscales during peak periods.
 
Multi-AZ deployments ensure data is backed up continuously across three Availability Zones, with instance failover occurring in less than 30 seconds. As a business operating across various time zones, this feature has proven particularly useful for Lalamove. On more than one occasion, it has supported automatic failover within the AZs, even in the middle of the night, to ensure the user experience is uninterrupted.

24x7 Support Before, During, and After Migrations

Lalamove uses AWS Enterprise Support for 24/7 consultative architectural guidance, and took advantage of the AWS Infrastructure Event Management program during both the Kubernetes and database migration. “AWS technical account manager and solutions architects were very helpful in setting up a detailed migration plan. Because we have a lot of databases running behind the scenes, we had to migrate very carefully over a period of 3 months, performing a proof of concept for each database,” Fok says.
 
Migration windows were short, usually overnight, so that business could be up and running with new databases by 6 a.m. the following day. “The AWS support team would be on standby and treated our migration as a priority. The planning, live support during migration windows, and post-migration monitoring were critical in quickly resolving any technical issues that arose,” adds Fok.

Autoscaling Resources for Market Analytics

Since launching on AWS, Lalamove has maintained 99.95 percent uptime for its app and website. Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) Autoscaling has been instrumental in dynamically scaling up and down to accommodate surges in application traffic, whether unpredicted or planned. Autoscaling also supports compute-intensive data analytics when Lalamove enters a new market.

Lalamove’s tech team studies user behavior in new markets to analyze where users are coming from, creating a heat map to determine geographical areas with the highest application activity. The business can then focus more workforce in those areas. This ability to understand and effectively target resources maximizes revenue for the company while controlling cost.

Expanding Tech Team and Target Customers

In terms of headcount, Lalamove is growing more than 30 percent each year. It now employs more than 1,000 IT staff, an exponential increase from its first year with a tech team of three. The company organizes regular onboarding training in collaboration with AWS, so that new employees understand the fundamentals of operating in the AWS Cloud. Senior engineers also benefit from frequent workshops around specific technology topics, such as containers.
 
With a firm technology foundation across its offices, Lalamove is now turning its attention to developing application programming interfaces (APIs) for integration with ecommerce sites. In such cases, Lalamove could become the preferred delivery partner for purchases made on these sites. “Lalamove has gone all-in on AWS to benefit from the scalability and reliability provided by AWS Global Infrastructure. This allows us to focus on innovation and sleep better at night while delivering superior customer experiences,” Fok concludes.

About Lalamove

Lalamove provides on-demand, same-day, and advanced-order delivery services by connecting more than 7 million registered users with delivery drivers on its mobile and web app. The company operates in more than 20 cities across the globe.

Benefits of AWS

  • Launches operations in a new city in just a few days
  • Improves productivity by 20%
  • Standardizes management of 100 containerized microservices
  • Autoscales for spikes in user traffic up to 400%
  • Enables real-time driver matching and status updates
  • Maintains 99.95% uptime
  • Receives priority 24/7 support during short migration windows
  • Cuts time to release new features by 10%

AWS Services Used

Amazon Elastic Kubernetes Service

Amazon Elastic Kubernetes Service (Amazon EKS) gives you the flexibility to start, run, and scale Kubernetes applications in the AWS cloud or on-premises. Amazon EKS helps you provide highly-available and secure clusters and automates key tasks such as patching, node provisioning, and updates.

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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 ElastiCache

Amazon ElastiCache allows you to seamlessly set up, run, and scale popular open-source compatible in-memory data stores in the cloud. Build data-intensive apps or boost the performance of your existing databases by retrieving data from high throughput and low latency in-memory data stores.

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Amazon EC2 Autoscaling

Amazon EC2 Auto Scaling helps you maintain application availability and allows you to automatically add or remove EC2 instances according to conditions you define. You can use the fleet management features of EC2 Auto Scaling to maintain the health and availability of your fleet.

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