SeatGeek Migrates US Client Base to AWS, Sees Double-Digit Percentage Reduction in Costs
SeatGeek, a live-event ticketing platform, needed to make consistent, comprehensive changes across its technology stack to help clients deliver tickets for concerts, sporting events, and other live events worldwide. After acquiring ticketing software company TopTix in 2017, SeatGeek had disparate data centers across multiple continents, which made management and upgrades time consuming, expensive, and difficult to apply consistently.
To standardize its tech infrastructure in the cloud, SeatGeek chose to containerize its Windows-based environments on Amazon Web Services (AWS). Using services such as Amazon Elastic Container Registry (Amazon ECR)—a fully managed container registry that makes it simple to store, manage, share, and deploy container images and artifacts—SeatGeek achieved consistency across environments and reduced deployment time from hours to minutes. Empowered by its success, the company containerized all its US clients and many European clients during the economic slowdowns in 2020 and has seen a double-digit percentage reduction in costs.
“Dedicated Hosts enables us to license physical cores on the server and get exactly the usage and license count we want.”
Enterprise Infrastructure Engineering Manager,
Solving Complex Infrastructure Management with Containerization
Founded in 2009, SeatGeek is a leading mobile-focused ticket platform that enables users to buy and sell tickets to live events. SeatGeek’s acquisition of TopTix added a robust software business but also a tech infrastructure that sprawled across many data centers. “One big problem we were facing was trying to keep track of all the changes made throughout all the environments,” says Joseph Micceri, an infrastructure engineer at SeatGeek. “We would make a change at a data center for one client to fix an issue. Later, we’d get a request from an internal support representative saying, ‘Hey, that update would be useful for other clients—can you change it in a dozen more places?’”
Looking to streamline management and provide consistency, SeatGeek set out to consolidate data centers and containerize on AWS in mid-2019. “When SeatGeek merged with TopTix in 2017, SeatGeek was fully on AWS,” says Adam Grasso, enterprise infrastructure engineering manager at SeatGeek. “It was the natural choice to bring TopTix under that umbrella.” Containerization emerged as an attractive solution because of its agility, scalability, and potential for automation across environments. When live events were canceled around the world in 2020, SeatGeek worked on the migration. “Our clients weren’t averse to downtime then,” says Grasso. “So we began to migrate and consolidate over to this new containerized method.”
Modernizing Existing Infrastructure on AWS
Amazon ECR enabled SeatGeek to build software installations into its continuous integration / continuous delivery pipeline and use the model through different stages of deployment. “All our larger clients get multiple test and development environments to validate that everything is working properly,” says Grasso. “Using Amazon ECR, the deployments are identical all the way up that stack.” The containerization also benefits the company with consolidation and cost savings in server allocation: SeatGeek can use multitenancy for many different applications on similar server classes, whether they’re high-memory applications for certain APIs or high-CPU applications for essential background processes. Multitenancy provides more redundancy and availability, which enables SeatGeek to scale up efficiently.
To provide persistent shared storage for Windows containers, SeatGeek uses Amazon FSx for Windows File Server, which provides fully managed, reliable, and scalable file storage that is accessible over the industry-standard Server Message Block protocol. By using Amazon FSx for Windows File Server, SeatGeek can help prevent file loss when a container needs to restart or move to a new host. Involved in this solution is AWS Directory Service, which enables directory-aware workloads and AWS resources to use managed Active Directory on AWS. “There are separate domains for all our environments, and there’s a lot of domain trust and group policy involved,” says Grasso.
SeatGeek also uses Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) Dedicated Hosts, which enables companies to use eligible software licenses from vendors such as Microsoft and Oracle on Amazon EC2; as a result, they get the flexibility and cost effectiveness of using their own licenses but the resiliency, simplicity, and elasticity of AWS. SeatGeek’s licensing use case is around Microsoft SQL Server, and by using Dedicated Hosts, the company avoided paying for both installations. “Dedicated Hosts enables us to license physical cores on the server and get exactly the usage and license count we want,” says Grasso.
For its non-Windows workloads, SeatGeek relies on Amazon Relational Database Service (Amazon RDS), which makes it simple to set up, operate, and scale a relational database in the cloud. The company uses Amazon RDS for PostgreSQL: “Because there are no database licensing costs, we can spin up individualized databases for nearly every application, service, or API we offer,” says Grasso.
Using Containers to Streamline Client Onboarding and Development
As of January 2021, SeatGeek had migrated all its US clients to AWS and about a quarter of its European clients, with many more client migrations scheduled soon. In the meantime, SeatGeek is already enjoying considerable benefits and has reduced new client onboarding time by approximately 75 percent. “When we signed our first client back in 2017, it took 3 months to get the environment right,” says Grasso. “Now a client is launching with us soon, and we brought that time down to under 2 weeks from start to finish for all environments. That gives us a lot of flexibility in how we can onboard new clients.”
SeatGeek has also observed that the time to resolve issues for its customers has been reduced by 30 percent now that all configuration is defined in a repository using infrastructure-as-code principles. “Our ability to serve clients when they’re having problems has increased,” says Grasso. “Meanwhile, the amount of time they spend waiting for us to diagnose the problem has decreased.” SeatGeek’s quality assurance and user acceptance testing teams have seen a similar boost in time optimization, going from days of quality assurance per release to hours. Overall, the team has seen a double-digit percentage cost reduction due to containerization and multitenancy. “There’s a lot more leeway there: we can spin up a few additional hosts and rearrange clients wherever we need to,” says Grasso.
Preparing for the Return of Live Events
Anticipating that live events may return in full force in 2021, SeatGeek plans to push its containerization solution to the rest of its clients. In the long term, the company is looking at ways to further optimize the solution, including migrating some of its API and web layer containers to .NET Core on Linux to save on Windows licensing costs. Regardless of where it goes, SeatGeek sees further building on AWS in its future. “The ability to scale up and down as needed is huge for us,” says Grasso. “We’re looking at potential ways to scale environments based on time of day or usage. AWS gives us a lot of flexibility there.”
SeatGeek is a mobile-focused ticket platform that enables fans to buy and sell tickets for live sports, concerts, and other events. Users can browse events, view interactive color-coded seat maps, complete purchases, and receive tickets.
Benefits of AWS
- Migrated 100% of its US clients to AWS
- Reduced new client onboarding time by 75%
- Reduced time spent troubleshooting from days to hours
- Reduced new feature deployment time from hours to minutes
- Reduced management and development costs by a double-digit percentage
AWS Services Used
Amazon EC2 Dedicated Hosts
Amazon EC2 Dedicated Hosts allow you to use your eligible software licenses from vendors such as Microsoft and Oracle on Amazon EC2, so that you get the flexibility and cost effectiveness of using your own licenses, but with the resiliency, simplicity and elasticity of AWS.
Amazon Elastic Container Registry (ECR)
Amazon Elastic Container Registry (ECR) is a fully managed container registry that makes it easy to store, manage, share, and deploy your container images and artifacts anywhere.
Amazon FSx for Windows File Server
Amazon FSx for Windows File Server provides fully managed, highly reliable, and scalable file storage that is accessible over the industry-standard Server Message Block (SMB) protocol.
AWS Directory Service
AWS Directory Service for Microsoft Active Directory, also known as AWS Managed Microsoft Active Directory (AD), enables your directory-aware workloads and AWS resources to use managed Active Directory (AD) in AWS.
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