Using AWS has helped us get where we are today—a market leader for festivals and indie music…. It was especially helpful at the start, because we could pour our resources into building useful features for our customers, which gave us an edge over other companies.
Giuseppe Ciotta Chief Technology Officer, Ticketea
  • About Ticketea

    Founded in Madrid in 2010, Ticketea is a software platform designed to simplify the organization and management of events. It also provides an e-commerce platform for selling tickets.

  • Benefits of AWS

    • Grows more than 50% a year to become leader in several markets
    • Handles 100x spikes in traffic during busy ticket sales
    • Develops trusted platform to attract major event promoters
  • Services used

Founded in Madrid in 2010, Ticketea is a software platform designed to simplify event management. It also provides an e-commerce platform for selling tickets. The company uses what’s known as a “freemium” model: if event organizers don’t charge for people to attend their events, they can use Ticketea for free; otherwise the platform takes a percentage of ticket sales. This approach has seen Ticketea grow from a startup to one of the leading ticketing companies in Spain, with about 20 percent of the overall market share in the country.

Although Ticketea was new in 2010, the business of ticketing is not. To make inroads in this market, the company has to do things differently. It had two user groups to address: event organizers, who need a platform that’s easy to use, and ticket buyers, who want a trusted and transparent place to buy. Ticketea also needed an infrastructure that could scale. As Giuseppe Ciotta, chief technology officer of Ticketea, explains, “We needed a flexible, scalable platform to help the company grow, try out new services, and optimize our operations.”

Another consideration was elasticity. According to Ciotta, ticketing platforms experience dramatic peaks in traffic when selling tickets for popular events—up to 100 times base levels.

A physical infrastructure was out of the question for the fledgling business, mostly because of the high initial cost and the need for scalability. So after developing a demo of its service, Ticketea looked to the cloud to help grow its business.

Because Amazon Web Services (AWS) was the most advanced cloud-services provider on the market at the time, Ticketea was “born” on AWS and has never looked back. Since then, it has made significant changes as the business has grown and new AWS features have been released.

“We’re lucky to have one of the most AWS-savvy teams in Spain,” says Ciotta. “We like to use APIs and automation, rather than doing things manually. We have 20 developers who write code for our services and use AWS in a DevOps model. The more we can offload services to AWS, the more we can concentrate on the business-specific parts of our job.”

For example, Ticketea has moved from using a MySQL database hosted on Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) and managed by the team to using Amazon Relational Database Service (Amazon RDS) and most recently Amazon Aurora, which has improved performance many times over. “We saw the 95th percentile of our query times improved by 300–600 percent, with a replica lag that went down to virtually zero,” says Ciotta. “It’s just one example of how relying on AWS services means that we can focus less on managing infrastructure and more on providing valuable new features for our users.”

Similarly, Ticketea originally used RabbitMQ for communicating between services and transitioned to Amazon Simple Queue Service (Amazon SQS) and then Amazon Kinesis as the number of its own services has grown. “Amazon Kinesis is great for handling complex communication between one service and several receivers,” says Ciotta. “By taking advantage of it, we’ve been able to build an event bus that makes it easier to add new features on top of the platform, compared to point-to-point queues.”

Being all-in on AWS since day one has helped Ticketea grow from an idea to a business that in 2017 issued 5.2 million tickets in 150 countries, and that has helped people organize more than 100,000 events. With annual growth of more than 50 percent, it now supplies tickets to 65 percent of all events held in Spain. “Using AWS has helped us get where we are today—a market leader for festivals and indie music—without our infrastructure costs rising in line with the growth of our business,” says Ciotta. “It was especially helpful at the start, because we could pour our resources into building useful features for our customers, which gave us an edge over other companies.”

Never happy to rest on their laurels, the development team at Ticketea is experimenting with serverless architectures—and services like AWS Lambda and Amazon DynamoDB—to further reduce overhead. “We recently wrote a zero-infrastructure service using AWS Lambda and Amazon DynamoDB,” says Ciotta. “We were impressed how far AWS Lambda has come in the past year, and we really valued the Auto Scaling feature in Amazon DynamoDB. You just activate it and don’t have to worry about scaling. It’s the perfect feature for us.”

Ticketea has also optimized the way it works within AWS to make its platform more secure, trusted, and able to handle the spikes in traffic that are so common in its industry. For example, it has broken its old monolithic application into several smaller services. “By taking advantage of AWS, we’ve been able to scale in a very efficient way, scaling out the services we need and leaving the ones we don’t,” says Ciotta. This arrangement, and the fact that Ticketea uses multiple AWS Availability Zones, ensures high availability, improving Ticketea’s reputation as a trusted brand.

“We always strive to provide 100 percent availability during sales for big events, because that’s what customers and organizers demand,” says Ciotta. “Other features within AWS, like the fact that Amazon Aurora databases automatically back themselves up, only add to the trust we have in AWS and the trust our customers can place in us. If you ask people on the street if they trust Ticketea, I’m confident they would say, ‘Yes.’ And it’s reflected in the fact that big music festivals and music promoters want to work with us.”

Learn more about running your application in the AWS Cloud.