We get approached by lots of other companies, but we wouldn’t even consider another cloud provider.... Using AWS takes away a lot of the burden of maintaining our infrastructure. 
Hakan Danisik Chief Technology Officer

Onedio is often referred to as Turkey’s answer to US news site Buzzfeed. Founded in Ankara in 2011, and launched in 2012, it combines the features of traditional media news outlets with those of a social network. Visitors have access to video, images, and stories about a range of topics, and users can also create and share external content. This model of a content-driven social network has caught on, and in 2015 the site was the ninth most popular in Turkey, with 10 million unique monthly visitors. Building on this success, Onedio launched a Russian platform in 2015, and plans to launch an English-language version in the first half of 2016. It has about 80 employees, 70 of whom make up the editorial team and another 10 on the IT team.  

Onedio has users in several countries who rely on it to provide up-to-the-minute news. More than half of the network’s traffic comes from smartphones, with users generally being between 18 and 25 years of age. This means the company has to tailor its experience to a young, mobile audience familiar with the web. Like any social network, downtime is immediately obvious and users are quick to vent their frustration as soon as they see any disruption.

With a relatively small technical team to manage the web experience for visitors, Onedio needs a platform that’s simple to use, scalable, and reliable, with the ultimate goal of providing the best experience to its user base. It also needs to be able to act quickly in a fast-moving market.

The technical team at Onedio has uses Amazon Web Services (AWS) to operate its social network platform since 2013. Onedio Chief Technology Officer Hakan Danisik says, “We tried a number of other services but the one we liked most was AWS. When we used a local hosting company we had a lot of downtime and it’s hard to integrate with other services. Plus, we had to do everything manually. In AWS it’s easy to automate a lot of tasks. That’s why we use it.”

Onedio runs multiple services in AWS, including Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) instances in Auto Scaling groups with Elastic Load Balancing automatically distributing traffic across multiple instances. It runs search clusters, cache clusters with Amazon ElastiCache, and database clusters with replication mechanisms that can replace a failed instance in less than 10 seconds if the need arises.

Amazon Elastic Transcoder offers a scalable service to transcode video files for playback on multiple devices, while Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3) provides fully redundant block-level storage for image and video files, as well as database backups. To speed up delivery of large files around the world, Onedio caches them on Amazon CloudFront remote locations.

The company also benefits from managed database services from AWS. Amazon DynamoDB is mostly used for collecting information about visitor events such as what pages they visited, what articles they shared, and which tests they took, while Amazon Relational Database Service (Amazon RDS) is used to log information such as user tweets from users about articles.

Danisik says AWS has improved the speed with which Onedio can get its services to market. “Using AWS helps us realize our ideas faster,” he says. “For example, we estimate it will take no more than a day to launch the English-language version of our site. After that, we'll be able to scale it easily. Speed really is one of the main benefits of AWS for us.”

The company’s AWS platform has been simple to expand in line with user demand. Danisik says, “We get around two and a half million visitors a day on Onedio.com, our Turkish site, and nearly one million on Onedio.ru. We anticipate a similar number for the English-language site. AWS lets us handle this expansion. We wouldn’t even consider another cloud provider. One of the major benefits of AWS cloud is its openness and flexibility. You can deploy a mixture of Windows machines, Linux machines and Linux firewalls as well as some S3 storage. At the time, AWS was one of the only providers that easily allowed that kind of ‘pick and choose’ to build a solution exactly how you wanted it.”

Danisik and his technical team appreciate the breadth of features in AWS, and the fact that the services are simple to use. “The AWS Management Console is easy to understand,” he says. “We don’t need to do things manually. When we were using traditional hosts they would give us a server and we’d have to configure a network and create load balancers and so on. Even if we’d configured everything properly their network might not be scalable, so we might experience downtime. Using AWS, we have multiple Availability Zones and load balancers. It takes away a lot of the burden of maintaining our infrastructure.”

Onedio is keen to further speed up its deployments and improve version control by taking advantage of AWS developer tools such as AWS CodeCommit and AWS CodePipeline once these are available in the EU (Ireland) region where it hosts its environment. Danisik is also trying out the Amazon Machine Learning service to find patterns from its existing data to segment its audiences and deliver suitable content and advertisements to users.

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