SoundBus Technologies Co., Ltd. (“SoundBus”), founded in 2014, is a new-media technology company whose subsidiaries include Beijing SoundBus Technologies Co., Ltd., Xiamen Sonicmoving Information Technology Co., Ltd., Xiamen Viszoo Media Technologies Co., Ltd., Hunan Sonicmoving Information Technology Co., Ltd., and Taiwan TradeWise Communication Co., Ltd.
SoundBus’ R&D team, led by former researchers at the Bell Labs, developed the company’s patented Oi-Fi technology, which is similar to QR codes but transmits and receives information by ultrasonic waves rather than images. Users will be connected through Oi-Fi once the microphone on their mobile phones or other mobile devices pick up the inaudible ultrasonic, 0.622-1.244 second long audio files produced by speakers, television sets, and other broadcast equipment, just like the scanning of a QR code.
There are many ways a business can interact with users who are connected with Oi-Fi. For example, a hotel can send facility and service information to guests; advertisers can broadcast product details and purchase links along with TV commercials; bars can provide “tip links” to allow consumers tip their favorite singer, and so on. Compared with QR codes, which are restricted by line-of-sight, proper distance, and lighting conditions, Oi-Fi has a much greater range and works even in a crowded area, thus enabling many more innovative applications. Typical clients of SoundBus include China UnionPay, HaiKeRongTong, A&I Group, Beijing Media Group and Coca-Cola, spanning across transaction payment, cultural media, mobile TV, retail, advertising, real estate, and education in terms of industries, and TV broadcasting, O2O, shopping, advertising and marketing, culture and communication, and creative teaching in terms of application scenarios.
SoundBus’ main source of revenue is the sales of Oi-Fi to businesses (businesses can obtain Oi-Fi files through an automated application process). Along with these sales, SoundBus must provide developers with the Oi-Fi SDK to enable apps to receive and decode Oi-Fi. Once an Oi-Fi is decoded, end users will gain access to the appropriate service. This whole process imposes the following IT requirements:
Secure, long-term storage of billions of Oi-Fi
Oi-Fi is the company’s key asset, thus its management and security are paramount. SoundBus CTO Gao Jianlun explains: “Sound codes is an important asset of ours. We may issue more than 100 million sound codes in a single country or region alone. Several billion sound codes have been issued worldwide, all as objects in a database. The secure, long-term storage and management of so many small object files is very taxing, not to mention that building our own storage could result in hardware control problems. Our solution comes in the form of Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3), which operates on a global cloud infrastructure with powerful storage and retrieval capabilities. Furthermore, it offers 99.999999999% persistence and encrypts every Amazon S3 object during transmission so that our assets can be effectively protected. This is why we use Amazon S3.”
Handling sudden spikes in user traffic
Imagine a sports event broadcasted worldwide, or a TV advertisement seen by a whole nation. If Oi-Fi is used in situations like these, there will likely be a major spike in short-term traffic, creating a huge challenge for backend servers. To deal with this type of situations, SoundBus uses Elastic Load Balancing to automatically distribute incoming traffic. ELB provides high availability, security, flexibility, and scalability, capable of handling the continuously varying traffic load in a single Availability Zone or across multiple Availability Zones. In addition, it is deeply integrated with Auto Scaling to ensure there is enough application capacity to meet varying levels of application traffic. SoundBus also uses Amazon CloudWatch to monitor and analyze all traffic and, when necessary, initiates a scalable server to ensure system stability.
Efficient and reliable sound code decoding
SoundBus has very strict requirements for its processing speed to ensure the best user experience. The key to the entire processing workflow is the decoding of received sound codes, which requires the use of a password rules table. Oi-Fi has between eight and nine billion password rules – one for each sound code; this demands efficient querying operations. The low latency and near-infinite scalability of Amazon DynamoDB mean that it can be used to front-cache the rules table to greatly speed up the decoding process.
DynamoDB is a fast and flexible NoSQL database service suitable for all applications that need consistent, single-digit millisecond latency, no matter their scale. Not only does it provide fast, consistent performance and auto-scaling, but it is also highly expandable and flexible with fine-grained access control.
Stable Operations 24/7
Sunbar is SoundBus’ community platform for bar music and culture, featuring functions like short-range interaction, social networking, and performance tipping. Since most bar activities take place at night, the Sunbar system has to run reliably even during nighttime, a requirement that was not consistently met by SoundBus’ original cloud service provider due to nighttime maintenance sessions. Because all AWS services are able to run reliably 24/7, they suits SoundBus needs better.
High Level of Security
To ensure that all links provided by businesses are free of non-compliant content or sensitive information, SoundBus needs to screen and filter relevant web pages. Amazon Virtual Private Cloud (Amazon VPC) lets users provision a logically segregated section of the cloud to create a private network. Advanced security features such as security groups and access control lists are also provided to enable inbound and outbound filtering at the instance and subnet level. The other candidate cloud service provider could not match Amazon VPC in feature set.
SoundBus aspires to run a global business operation. By 20th December 2017，AWS’ broad coverage, which now comprises 49 Availability Zones in 18 geographic regions around the world, is continuously expanding, helping SoundBus to grow globally.
Figure 1 illustrates SoundBus’ system architecture, which includes such AWS products as Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2), Amazon S3, Amazon Relational Database Service (Amazon RDS), DynamoDB, CloudWatch, AWS Identity and Access Management (IAM), Amazon Simple Queue Service (Amazon SQS), Amazon VPC, and ELB.
The benefits that SoundBus reaps by using AWS cloud services can be summarized to the following:
First, cost savings. SoundBus is a startup company, which means the efficient use of its starting capital is essential. With a clear market development plan from the company’s management team, and the high availability, on-demand service, and low price of cloud services, SoundBus did not make major hardware and equipment purchases, relying instead on AWS for its IT infrastructure. This avoids the huge funding gap that building their own data centers would create. Meanwhile, the use of the AWS platform greatly reduces operation and maintenance workload, translating into markedly lower management and labor costs.
Second, faster innovation. SoundBus’ core technical staff has more than five years of experience using AWS overseas, so after choosing AWS, they were able to get to work immediately. With its wide range of services and features, AWS has almost everything SoundBus needs, greatly accelerating the speed of business innovation.
Although SoundBus is still in early stages of development, it only took the company a few months to attract major customers such as China UnionPay, HaiKeRongTong, and Coca-Cola. The company also made progress in overseas markets. AWS’ secure, stable and reliable platform and professional support team allow SoundBus to expand its business without worrying about technical hiccups. The company still has tremendous room for growth which, luckily, can easily be sustained by the AWS platform.
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