If you work with databases on AWS, there is no reason not to choose Amazon Aurora.
At peak periods the membership system is accessed via API more than 250 times per second, but there have been no issues at all even under this kind of processing load.
Also, because it is a fully managed service, we can focus our resources on service development.
Shuhei Sakai Systems Architect Group, Business Systems Promotion Department, RecoChoku Co., Ltd.

RecoChoku, founded in 2001, launched world-first music distribution services for mobile phones such as "Chaku-Uta®" and "Chaku-Uta Full®," and ever since it has been a driving force among Japanese music distribution services. It has rolled out a diverse range of services in quick succession, also extending to the B2B sector, including the "RecoChoku" service which enables downloads on a variety of devices, the "RecoChoku Best" service, which offers unlimited music streaming for a fixed price, and the "d hits powered by RecoChoku" service, provided in collaboration with NTT DOCOMO. RecoChoku has also recently focused on contributing to the revitalization and development of the music industry by proposing new endeavors that provide the added value of experiences or other extra touches, rather than simply offering music to listen to. These include the WIZY cocreation experience platform, which connects fans who relate to an artist's creative projects and supports their realization.

To meet the needs of an increasingly diverse range of users, RecoChoku is continually striving to become a comprehensive entertainment company that proactively offers a variety of entertainment content and proposes new ventures.

Music data is of primary importance to RecoChoku. "It has become difficult to accurately predict the total amount of data we need to manage, due to an increase in the number of songs and the larger data size of videos and high-resolution audio," says Shuhei Sakai, from the Systems Architect Group in the Business Systems Promotion Department of RecoChoku. As new services are launched and even more music is added, business expansion requires the quick addition of secure infrastructure to store this music data.

Since the company has also launched services with many partners, another challenge was the difficulty of predicting suitable infrastructure resource capacity for music distribution.

A music distribution service also requires a membership database system to manage customer information and store user information. Management of customer information is a crucial part of the business, requiring a system with high reliability and availability. The infrastructure for the membership system, including the database, was originally operated and managed by RecoChoku. 

As the number of services increased, cost management for each service was also an issue. Management was previously done on an system by system basis, and it became difficult to ascertain which infrastructure costs were incurred by which service. RecoChoku needed a flexible and robust service infrastructure that could solve these business challenges.

RecoChoku began using cloud solutions in around 2013 in order to have a flexible infrastructure that was also highly scalable. It began by migrating the service infrastructure system it developed and built on premises to AWS. "After looking at a number of cloud services, AWS was head and shoulders above the rest in terms of the number of services and the speed of developing new services," says Sakai.

RecoChoku decided to shift its entire IT infrastructure to AWS, first migrating the existing on-premises system to an environment centered around services such as Amazon EC2, Amazon S3, and Amazon RDS. In the initial stages of migration, a hybrid environment integrating the on-premises system was used.

After migrating a number of services to AWS and confirming it offered sufficient stability and flexibility, newly launched services are now being developed in the AWS environment. In each case, RecoChoku has proactively introduced services that systems personnel deemed necessary, and over 30 AWS services are now being used.

One challenge RecoChoku faced during the move to AWS was the migration of the membership database system that manages customer information. The management of customer information is a crucial part of business, requiring a system with high reliability and availability. For this reason, RecoChoku had been running a database system with a configuration that combined Oracle Database and Oracle Real Application Clusters (RAC). To convert this system to AWS, RecoChoku initially considered methods for installing Oracle Database on Amazon EC2 or utilizing Amazon RDS for Oracle. "For these methods we had to consider how to secure high availability, and how much the change would cost. As we were going to the trouble of performing this migration, we also wanted to select a system that would enable us to let AWS handle the operation and management that the previous infrastructure had required," says Sakai.

RecoChoku selected Amazon Aurora to overcome these issues. "The membership system manages around 10 million sets of user information, covering eight years of operation. Because we adopted a method involving migration from Oracle to MySQL, we first spent about a month tuning the system to absorb SQL differences and ensure sufficient performance on Amazon Aurora," explains Sakai.

RecoChoku then migrated the data, completing the migration from Oracle RAC to Amazon Aurora in a total of about three months after a test period of concurrent operation.

With the migration of the database for its membership system to Amazon Aurora, RecoChoku completed migration of its core systems to AWS, and migration of all remaining systems is scheduled to be complete in March 2017.

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One major benefit of migrating to AWS is the fact it enabled clarification of the infrastructure used by each service. "We needed to hold a certain amount of resources in reserve with our on-premises solution, but this was no longer necessary after the migration to AWS. We were able to reduce the use of machine resources to around 30 percent of that for the on-premises system," says Sakai.

At RecoChoku, the procurement and management of service infrastructure is generally carried out by the team that performs service development. Although there was a certain amount of skill transfer from the infrastructure team in areas such as deciding on operation rules, since then members of the development team have been able to run databases on the AWS environment by themselves. As a result, procurement time is significantly shorter due to the ability to arrange infrastructure easily, and the use of managed services means the operational load is lighter, leading to major benefits. "Amazon Aurora is a fully managed system, enabling the development team to focus their human resources on service development," says Sakai.

In addition, services are not suspended during maintenance when using Amazon Aurora, which creates significant advantages for a company like RecoChoku that provides services in collaboration with partners. Amazon Aurora has also enabled a dramatic reduction in license fees for database software compared to when multiple nodes were used with Oracle RAC.

In addition to managing user IDs and service login and logout, the membership system is responsible for a wide variety of features such as managing the number of registered devices and "My Artist" information that saves users' favorite artists. When artists or songs are talked about on TV, for example, and many customers attempt to download the same media at the same time, the RecoChoku membership system sometimes experiences heavy access, leading to a sudden increase in load. "Various services access the membership system via API. At peak times, API access to the system happens more than 250 times per second, but we have had no issues at all with Amazon Aurora. There have also been no response delays, so we have been able to handle access smoothly," says Sakai.

RecoChoku is looking at implementing AWS Lambda, which will allow it to create serverless systems in the future. "We believe it would be quite convenient to use AWS Lambda for coordination between systems. AWS services are easy to use because there is no need to check aspects such as reliability in detail. We have also obtained a range of security certifications, so security is not a concern." notes Sakai.

In addition, RecoChoku is planning to replace the database system currently running on PostgreSQL as soon as Amazon Aurora services compatible with PostgreSQL are fully deployed. "After using Amazon Aurora, we have a strong sense of the benefits it provides," says Sakai.

Shuhei Sakai Image

Systems Architect Group, Business Systems Promotion Department, RecoChoku Co., Ltd.
Shuhei Sakai

To learn more about how the AWS Cloud can help media and entertainment companies, visit our Digital Media in the AWS Cloud detail page.