PlaceIQ Case Study


Founded in 2010, PlaceIQ provides location intelligence for mobile advertising and other markets. The company’s flagship product, PlaceContext, extracts contextual intelligence generated from large amounts of location based data such as place data, event data, digital, mobile and social data – as well as a diversity of other location specific information. PlaceIQ performs a series of data cleansing, normalization, analysis, and machine learning processes to extract an understanding of the type of audience present in a specific location at a specific time – enabling the ability to audience target in mobile highly effectively.

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After deploying Amazon ElastiCache, PlaceIQ’s average end-to end response time for its web services improved by 83 percent.”

Steve Milton
CTO and Co-Founder, PlaceIQ

The Challenge

The service’s back-end data tier has to be able to process vast amounts of data and handle real-time and mobile demands. It is critical that PlaceIQ has a highly scalable and efficient caching layer. Prior to using a caching solution, the data tier sent every request to fulfillment servers. The company considered deploying its own memcached infrastructure to create a caching solution.

Why Amazon Web Services

PlaceIQ decided to use Amazon ElastiCache because “Amazon ElastiCache provided a turn-key approach to installing, managing, and scaling a large memcached cluster,” says Steve Milton, CTO and co-founder of PlaceIQ. Amazon ElastiCache allowed PlaceIQ to quickly implement and deploy a caching layer infrastructure within their existing application stack.

PlaceIQ’s existing data tier includes a RESTful interface for data retrieval. To employ Amazon ElastiCache and the memcached based protocol with the RESTful based web service, PlaceIQ uses a caching proxy layer with a Nginx web server and a corresponding Nginx memcached plugin. The diagram below demonstrates the site architecture.

The caching proxy layer hashes the requested uniform resource identifier (URI) and then queries the corresponding node within the Amazon ElastiCache group. The solution uses Elastic Load Balancing to distribute traffic across the Nginx caching proxy web servers running in Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) instances.

This URI hashing strategy eliminates redundant copies of cached data in the Amazon ElastiCache cluster. If the requested URI is not found within Amazon ElastiCache, the request is forwarded to a set of origin servers for fulfillment. The resulting response from the origin server is placed in Amazon ElastiCache for future use. The PlaceIQ team uses Amazon Simple Notification Service (Amazon SNS) and Amazon CloudWatch to monitor the different components of PlaceIQ’s distributed architecture.

PlaceIQ Architecture Diagram

PlaceIQ Architecture Diagram

The Benefits

“After deploying Amazon ElastiCache, PlaceIQ’s average end-to end response time for its web services improved by 83 percent,” says Milton. “Furthermore, we are saving $1,000 per month in direct costs. Amazon ElastiCache allows us to improve our service response times rapidly and economically for our customers. This in turn allows us to serve customer demand with fewer backend servers reducing our cost.”

About PlaceIQ

Founded in 2010, PlaceIQ provides location intelligence for mobile advertising and other markets.

AWS Services Used

Amazon EC2

Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (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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Amazon ElastiCache

Amazon ElastiCache offers fully managed Redis and Memcached. Seamlessly deploy, run, and scale popular open source compatible in-memory data stores.

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Elastic Load Balancing

Elastic Load Balancing automatically distributes incoming application traffic across multiple targets, such as Amazon EC2 instances, containers, IP addresses, and Lambda functions.

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Amazon SNS

Amazon Simple Notification Service (SNS) is a highly available, durable, secure, fully managed pub/sub messaging service that enables you to decouple microservices, distributed systems, and serverless applications.

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