Rabbi Interactive Agency, founded 11 years ago and based in Israel, is a digital agency specializing in technology-based experiential marketing processes. The company offers digital screen environments, marketing planning, implementation strategies, and creation of innovative products for worldwide brands. Rabbi Interactive designed and developed an application called Mako Tools, which is a second-screen platform for Keshet, the largest broadcasting TV company in Israel.
Rabbi Interactive produces experiences designed to engage television viewers. For example, the company offers second-screen applications for use during the broadcast of popular shows such as “Rising Star” and “Big Brother.” These applications synchronize with live shows, giving home viewers the ability to communicate in real time in response to show content via a second linked screen. “Viewers watching a show can submit questions, vote for a contestant, play a game, and interact in other ways by using on-screen tabs,” says Gil Rabbi, CEO for Rabbi Interactive. “It’s a way to connect viewers to the show.”
Because the company’s applications support large numbers of users during live broadcasts, Rabbi Interactive needed a technology that could scale quickly. “Our applications must support anywhere from 1,000 users per second to as many as hundreds of thousands of users per second,” Rabbi says. Strong application performance is also essential. “The application needs to sync perfectly between mobile devices and the actual television show. For us, performance is key.”
"The platform that we have developed allows broadcasters to create activities on a second screen and transform the viewers at home into active users during transmission, while synchronizing in real time between the televised content and the mobile display. One of the major principles that guided us during product development is that the platform needs to be able to adapt itself to any broadcasting format," says Rabbi. "We know how to create new products on top of our platform and enable every new televised format to use of our platform as a second screen."
Rabbi Interactive also has to be able to dynamically scale its applications in response to different traffic patterns. “We needed to have a large enough environment to support peak usage during the specific hours a show is on, but we also didn’t want to have to over-provision compute resources during off hours,” Danon says. “We wanted more elasticity.”
To gain scalability, performance, and elasticity, Rabbi Interactive chose to run its second-screen applications in the cloud. Although it considered several cloud technologies, it decided to use Amazon Web Services (AWS). “AWS is a large, experienced company with a lot of resources and a wide range of services”, says Yahav Avshalom, a senior developer for Rabbi Interactive. “Additionally, the technology itself is very reliable. And thanks to the Amazon API, we have developed special capabilities based on the needs of the broadcasters, and thus we can perform different actions according to the choices that a show's editor makes in our platform's management interface.”
Rabbi Interactive chose to work with CloudZone, an Israeli AWS Premier Consulting Partner and part of the Matrix Company. Together, the two companies developed a solution based on the Mako Tools second-screen system for use in Rabbi Interactive’s multiscreen mobile apps. CloudZone provides comprehensive IT services based on AWS, including consulting and planning, configuration, and application development and migration to the cloud. “During all stages of the second-screen app development, CloudZone helped us through every step of the way, understanding our needs and always finding the right technologies to fit our specific needs,” says Danon. “They were a great partner to us, and played a huge role in getting our solution developed on time.”
The solution is based on Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) instances, and it relies on Auto Scaling to automatically create more capacity for the application depending on usage requirements. The solution also takes advantage of Amazon DynamoDB, a NoSQL database service designed for applications requiring single-digit millisecond latency for real-time data transfer. In addition, the Rabbi Interactive solution uses Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3) to store system data.
The system allows hundreds of thousands of television viewers to simultaneously access the application during show broadcasts, when prompted to do so by program hosts. Viewers use Rabbi Interactive’s mobile apps for online voting and other integrated second-screen activities during the shows.
"In today's modern age, in order to excite home viewers, other than having outstanding televised content, you need to allow them to experience and engage with the content. You can achieve that by using additional platforms that accompany the program and at times even serve as the main content itself,” says Rabbi. "The platform and infrastructure we set up is not standard, unlike environments that have the ability to be repaired or upgraded over time. During live TV events, there is no second chance when, within seconds, hundreds of thousands of simultaneous users log in, so the ability to maneuver in this short period of time is critical. We chose AWS because it has given us the security and availability to perform the task at hand."
Rabbi Interactive can scale the environment that supports its second-screen applications by using AWS. “We can support a live broadcast voting system for hundreds of thousands of mobile app users at the same time, thanks to the AWS Cloud,” says Danon. “When a large number of users need to access the app during live shows, we can scale to support them in just a few moments.”
AWS also delivers the solid performance required for the company’s second-screen apps. “By relying on Amazon DynamoDB and Amazon EC2, we get the data transfer speeds we need for our platform,” says Danon. “As a result, viewers at home can have real-time interaction during live TV broadcasts, whether they are voting for their favorite contestant or accessing other interactive features. And as a result of the performance we get using AWS, winning contestants can be determined and announced within a minute.”
Rabbi Interactive has also gained the elasticity it sought, which gives the company the ability to dynamically scale its applications depending on the number of users. “We do not need to worry about over- or under-provisioning our resources during off-peak or peak times,” says Danon. “That means we don’t have to plan in advance to make sure we have enough capacity to meet demand.”
Having more elasticity also means Rabbi Interactive saves more money. “By using CloudZone's FinOps methodology and AWS serverless architecture, we reduced our monthly costs by 60 percent compared with our previous environment,” Danon says. “We anticipate even greater savings going forward as we expand our usage of the AWS Cloud.”
Ran Rothschild, general manager at CloudZone, adds: “Since the beginning of our mutual work with Rabbi Interactive, it was clear to both teams that we are facing unique technological challenges and that we have the opportunity to position ourselves on the frontline of dual-screen technology. Fortunately, and with the cooperation of Rabbi Interactive, we were able to meet all the challenges we faced and provided a platform for real-time, dual-screen utilization, simultaneously with live TV broadcasts.”
Ofer Naor, dual-screen manager at Keshet, says, "Keshet is proud to lead the field of dual screen in Israel and in the world, using Mako, Keshet's digital extension. Through the professionalism and ingenuity of Rabbi Interactive and CloudZone, we have managed to reach groundbreaking achievements in viewer participation and engagement in our digital platforms, which broadcast our leading televised shows. Mako Tools is the ideal platform for us, allowing us to be creative and innovative, efficiently handle record numbers of engagements, and continue using the platform in order to develop new products.”
- CloudZone, Matrix’s cloud unit that provides advanced solutions and cloud services, is a Premier Consulting Partner within the AWS Partner Network (APN), a Worldwide Channel Reseller, and a Managed Service Provider of AWS, with more than seven years of experience in the field. The company provides its customers diverse services in the following areas: consultation, architecture planning and design, migrations management of the organization’s infrastructures to the cloud, and continuous support within these environments. CloudZone focuses on two main issues: aggressive monthly cost savings and the utilization of advanced technological tools, tailored to the organization.
- For more information about how CloudZone can help your company build and manage your AWS environment, see CloudZone’s listing in the AWS Partner Directory.
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