Shohoz Evolves “Super App” on AWS to Improve Lives in Bangladesh


Using Technology to Solve Everyday Challenges

In traffic-stricken Dhaka, the capital city of Bangladesh and one of the world’s most crowded cities, traffic jams can cause up to 3.8 million cumulative working hours lost per day. To add insult to injury, people often have to wait in long lines to buy tickets for buses, which are the main mode of public transportation in Bangladesh, before beginning their commute.

However, rapid technology adoption and the government’s Digital Bangladesh vision have resulted in digital transformation efforts across the country over the past few years. In line with this vision, the Shohoz app was founded in 2014. The app had a singular mission: to make the lives of Bangladeshi people easier. As the first company to digitalize bus ticketing, Shohoz has experienced double- to triple-digit growth year on year since its inception and over 3 million Bangladeshis have downloaded the Shohoz app to date.

By connecting local people to local products, Shohoz has evolved to become an all-in-one, on-demand “super app,” providing a single platform operating in five verticals: bus ticketing, ride sharing, food delivery, truck rentals, and healthcare services.

Maliha Quadir, Founder and Managing Director, Shohoz

AWS listens to us, is responsive, and manages our requests to ensure a smooth customer experience with uninterrupted service."

Maliha Quadir
Founder and Managing Director, Shohoz

Striving for Uninterrupted Service

In its early days, Shohoz was operating out of a colocation data center. However, the company faced repeated episodes of downtime when it needed to scale due to limited server bandwidth and resource capacities. The colocation facility was shared with some of Bangladesh’s largest enterprises, including the main telco provider, and these companies often got first priority when bandwidth was tight.

Shohoz’s founder and managing director, Maliha Quadir, knew that uninterrupted service was essential to building customers’ trust in the app, and she encouraged her team to migrate to Amazon Web Services (AWS) in 2015. Quadir was familiar with AWS from her experience in prior companies, and she appreciated its pay-as-you-grow cost model. Shohoz also received startup credits from the AWS Activate program, which jumpstarted its cloud journey.

Prior to AWS, most of Shohoz’s engineers had never worked with cloud technology, which to this day is still rare in Bangladesh. But through experimentation and regular communication with the AWS account team, Shohoz engineers became more familiar with cloud capabilities. Because Shohoz’s workloads are seasonal and often unpredictable, engineers took advantage of AWS Auto Scaling and Elastic Load Balancing to distribute application traffic and ensure app stability. In just four years, the app has experienced a twentyfold increase in transaction volumes, while still maintaining a high level of service uptime and reliability.

Out-of-the-Box Services Simplify Development

Drivers on Shohoz’s ride-sharing network often have low bandwidth on their mobile phones and struggle to keep their phones charged on the go. To mitigate this, Shohoz decided to use Message Queuing Telemetry Transport (MQTT), a low-bandwidth communication protocol designed to tolerate intermittent connections, as the basis for its ride-sharing application’s messaging system. Now, drivers benefit from a highly available service that consumes little battery power and network data.

Engineers started to build an in-house MQTT server before discovering that AWS IoT Core supports the MQTT protocol. “We’ve come to realize that AWS offers many out-of-the-box services that have made our lives, and by extension our customers’ lives, a lot easier,” says Topu Newaj, senior vice president at Shohoz.

Shohoz is now working to fully containerize its app to run on Amazon Elastic Kubernetes Service (Amazon EKS) and break down its architecture into microservices. This approach improves the manageability and scalability of individual services, some of which have higher levels of demand than others. From the end users’ perspective, a containerized environment improves latency by isolating API calls on the mobile app. As a result, for read requests such as logging in, users experience response times that are consistently 300 milliseconds or faster.


Aligning Technology to Business Goals

The nature of Shohoz’s relationship with AWS is dynamic. Typically, Shohoz approaches the AWS team with a particular use case, and AWS works with the startup to understand its goals and align supporting cloud technology.

For Shohoz, the focus is now on building different data pipelines that correspond to each business vertical and structuring data to fuel customer-driven analytics. With advanced analytics, Shohoz plans to enhance its existing service offerings across business verticals. Projects include optimizing its driver–rider matching process for its ride sharing service and personalizing menu recommendations for its food delivery service. Shohoz is also shifting to AWS Fargate for a serverless alternative to container orchestration to further reduce its maintenance overhead.

Quadir comments, “With AWS, it’s a long-term relationship that grows beyond numbers. As a startup, we are always in a rush to do things and want minimal hassle. AWS listens to us, is responsive, and manages our requests to ensure a smooth customer experience with uninterrupted service."

Automation Speeds Time-to-Market

Managed services such as Amazon EKS and Amazon Relational Database Service (Amazon RDS) for MySQL automate time-consuming tasks such as deployment and backups for Shohoz’s engineers. Newaj estimates that, with AWS, his team is spending 50 percent less time on managing infrastructure than if they were to orchestrate everything in-house. Productivity has significantly improved as a result.

“Now, we are able to complete more operational tasks without having to worry about deployment. Previously, our task board included 16 hours of work to deploy an application—now, we don’t even list that as a task,” he says.

With extra time on their hands, engineers can focus on bringing new projects to market quicker. Shohoz recently launched a separate app in its healthcare vertical at the request of its national government to help with contact tracing. It took just three weeks to build the app on AWS, which has now become the most downloaded app in Bangladesh on the Google Play store. “Launching a new product or service in the market is seamless and requires minimal effort thanks to the degree of automation available on AWS,” Newaj says.

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About Shohoz

Shohoz is a mobile app with a mission to harness technology to make life easier for people in Bangladesh. The on-demand platform offers bus and event ticketing, ride hailing, food delivery, truck rental, and healthcare services.

Benefits of AWS

  • Scales to support a twentyfold increase in transaction volumes
  • Improves reliability of mobile app messaging, even with low bandwidth
  • Ensures latency of 300 milliseconds or less
  • Reduces time spent on infrastructure tasks by 50%
  • Facilitates innovation with out-of-the-box technology
  • Brings new technology to market in just 3 weeks

AWS Services Used

AWS IoT Core

AWS IoT Core is a managed cloud service that lets connected devices easily and securely interact with cloud applications and other devices. AWS IoT Core can support billions of devices and trillions of messages, and can process and route those messages to AWS endpoints and to other devices reliably and securely. With AWS IoT Core, your applications can keep track of and communicate with all your devices, all the time, even when they aren’t connected.

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Amazon RDS for MySQL

Amazon RDS for MySQL frees you up to focus on application development by managing time-consuming database administration tasks including backups, software patching, monitoring, scaling and replication.

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Amazon Elastic Kubernetes Service

Amazon Elastic Kubernetes Service (Amazon EKS) is a fully managed Kubernetes service. Customers such as Intel, Snap, Intuit, GoDaddy, and Autodesk trust EKS to run their most sensitive and mission critical applications because of its security, reliability, and scalability.

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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, Lambda functions, and virtual appliances. It can handle the varying load of your application traffic in a single Availability Zone or across multiple Availability Zones.

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