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RepricerExpress Moves to AWS from Azure for Lower Costs, Higher Performance

2020

Running its Windows Server and Microsoft SQL Server environment on Microsoft Azure seemed like a good idea to RepricerExpress—at first.

A Lucid Interactive company, RepricerExpress offers a solution that enables Amazon Marketplace and eBay sellers to set and customize automated pricing strategies. The company serves 4,200 sellers across more than 20 Amazon and eBay channels, repricing over 50 million SKUs a month and supporting $60 million in customer sales each week.

"We had a contract renewal with Azure coming up that was going to raise our hosting cost 20 percent," says Damian Elder, a DevOps engineer at RepricerExpress. "Also, when we first launched on Azure, we didn't expect as much growth in our user base and data volume as we ended up experiencing.”

After careful consideration, the company shifted its Windows infrastructure onto Amazon Web Services (AWS). This migration meant it could avoid the 20 percent increase on Azure, decrease data transfer costs by about $60,000 a year, and obtain higher-performing compute resources for the same cost as the Azure resources it had been using.

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CustomerReferences_QuoteMark

It’s an easy migration to AWS from Azure. AWS services are up to the task, and it’s easier to manage your Microsoft licensing on AWS. When considering your long-term objectives, you should definitely look at AWS."

Damian Elder
DevOps Engineer, RepricerExpress

AWS, a Mature Platform for Windows Environments

The company's fast growth was a prime motivator for RepricerExpress to evaluate migrating onto AWS. "In just five years, we've gone from receiving about 5,000 price notifications a day to receiving more than a billion a month," says Chris Dunne, a digital marketing executive at RepricerExpress. "We expect our customer base to double in the next year. Our analysis found that the AWS offerings for Microsoft tools such as SQL Server and Windows Server are really quite mature and that AWS would be a better platform than Azure for that kind of growth."

RepricerExpress migrated its Windows Server and SQL Server environment onto an AWS infrastructure that includes Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) z1d instances, which use custom Intel Xeon Scalable processors to deliver high single-thread performance. “Migration was straightforward because we could use the same tools and services we had been using on Azure and didn’t need to switch to an AWS database structure,” says Dunne. “We didn’t end up requiring any assistance from AWS during the move.”

The company is also using Amazon EC2 for Microsoft Windows Server to deploy Windows-based applications and workloads, Amazon Simple Queue Service (Amazon SQS) for queuing pricing information, Amazon Elastic Block Store (Amazon EBS) with provisioned IOPS solid state drives (SSDs) for high-performance block storage, and AWS Directory Service for extending Microsoft Active Directory to the AWS Cloud. "We've also joined the Amazon Marketplace Developer Council, which increases our credibility with our Amazon Marketplace customer base even further," says Dunne.

Faster Repricing for a Better Customer Experience

A key benefit of the shift was eliminating the cost of pushing price notifications from AWS to the company’s Azure virtual machines. "Moving from Azure onto AWS reduced our outbound bandwidth costs by about $60,000 a year," says Elder. "By putting most of our servers on one-year Amazon EC2 Reserved Instances, we got an additional 15 percent discount, which we are reinvesting into our server infrastructure."

By taking advantage of the AWS Pricing Calculator and AWS Cost Explorer, RepricerExpress is finding costs and savings easier to calculate and understand on AWS than on Azure. "Billing and cost monitoring can be quite complex on Azure because you have to take so many factors into account," says Seamus Breslin, design manager at RepricerExpress. "Using the AWS Pricing Calculator, it's very straightforward to understand how discounts apply and how much you're actually saving. We're also looking forward to using AWS Cost Explorer to understand what it costs per customer to operate our app, rather than relying on averages."

With these savings, RepricerExpress can afford much larger, higher-performing virtual machines. "Amazon EC2 z1d instances are much faster than the equivalent Azure offering, for about the same cost," says Elder. "With Amazon EC2 z1d instances, we're providing a better customer experience by processing price notifications more quickly and repricing more often."

RepricerExpress also appreciates the ease of managing its Microsoft Active Directory domain on AWS. "Because it's a managed service on AWS, it's much simpler to run Active Directory on AWS than on Azure," says Elder.

Further Modernization on AWS

The flexibility of AWS is enabling RepricerExpress to find an even better fit between its architecture and its applications. "By taking advantage of the high-performance SSD option for Amazon EBS, we designed a storage platform that aligned closely to the data access patterns of our applications," says Elder. "This Amazon EBS option will help us reduce costs and deliver even stronger application availability."

Now that RepricerExpress has become familiar with AWS, the company is looking forward to experimenting with other services, such as Amazon Relational Database Service (Amazon RDS) and Amazon Timestream. "We're planning to reduce our Amazon EC2 fleet by shifting workloads onto Amazon RDS," says Breslin. "The most exciting thing is that it's a managed service, so we won't have to worry about updates and all the other maintenance overhead for our Windows virtual machines. We'd also like to get to the point where we are injecting all the data we handle into Amazon Timestream, so we can analyze price changes for each product every day and provide trend forecasting for our customers."

To other companies considering a similar shift from Azure to AWS, Elder has the following advice: "AWS has made great inroads into supporting Microsoft environments, and it’s an easy migration to AWS from Azure. AWS services are up to the task, and it’s easier to manage your Microsoft licensing on AWS. When considering your long-term objectives, you should definitely look at AWS."

To learn more, visit aws.amazon.com/windows/products.


About RepricerExpress

RepricerExpress, a sister application of automated feedback solution FeedbackExpress, enables Amazon Marketplace and eBay sellers to set and customize automated pricing strategies. The company serves 4,200 sellers across more than 20 Amazon and eBay channels, repricing over 50 million SKUs a month.

Benefits of AWS

  • Reduces outbound bandwidth costs by $60,000 a year
  • Simplifies billing and cost monitoring
  • Enables use of larger, higher-performing compute resources for the same cost
  • Eliminates management overhead for Active Directory

AWS Services Used

Amazon EC2 z1d Instances

Amazon EC2 z1d instances deliver high single thread performance due to a custom Intel® Xeon® Scalable processor with a sustained all core frequency of up to 4.0 GHz, the fastest of any cloud instance.

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Amazon Simple Queue Service

Amazon Simple Queue Service (SQS) is a fully managed message queuing service that enables you to decouple and scale microservices, distributed systems, and serverless applications. SQS eliminates the complexity and overhead associated with managing and operating message oriented middleware, and empowers developers to focus on differentiating work.

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Amazon Elastic Block Store

Amazon Elastic Block Store (EBS) is an easy to use, high performance block storage service designed for use with Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) for both throughput and transaction intensive workloads at any scale.

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AWS Directory Service

AWS Directory Service for Microsoft Active Directory, also known as AWS Managed Microsoft AD, enables your directory-aware workloads and AWS resources to use managed Active Directory in the AWS Cloud.

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