By using AWS, we have cut our IT costs by about 30% compared to an on-premises solution.
Wilson Liu Co-founder and General Manager

Based in Taiwan and launched in 2015, Ucarer developed a mobile app for Android and iOS devices that elderly people can use to book appointments with registered caregivers in their local community. Caregivers who want to offer their services via the platform are interviewed and qualified by Ucarer before their details are added to the portal. When elderly people need help, they or a family member can check the availability of local caregivers and place a booking. Today, Ucarer has 10 employees and two offices—one in Taiwan and the other in Silicon Valley in the United States. Its customer base is growing by 100 percent a quarter.

As a startup company, Ucarer was determined to be on the cloud from day one. The benefits of the cloud fit perfectly with the company’s need for low upfront IT costs. The cloud also met another requirement—flexibility—enabling Ucarer to rapidly scale its IT as the number of customers began to rise. Wilson Liu, cofounder and general manager of Ucarer, says, “The biggest challenge for a startup is to get your product to market fast when you have limited resources. Once you’re up and running, it’s vital your product is stable so customers maintain a good user experience.”

Once core infrastructure was established, Ucarer’s development team needed to be able to work efficiently on building out the features and functionality of the platform. The last thing the team wanted was to spend a lot of time on routine management. “Because our target market is the elderly, we planned to create a platform designed for their specific needs. For example, customers can interact with our platform using voice, not just text. We are also looking at machine learning to help us learn more about our customers’ needs and use that information to deliver an improved level of service.”

Ucarer chose Amazon Web Services (AWS) to develop the mobile app and cloud infrastructure behind its platform. Liu says, “AWS was priced very competitively and its range of services would help us not only to launch our service, but to continue developing it over time. The multiple AWS Regions and Availability Zones also offered a way to launch Ucarer abroad, specifically in the United States.”

The Ucarer IT team developed its AWS infrastructure in house. The team unified its development, testing, and production environments to enhance the speed and quality of its build processes. “Unifying our workflow in this way helped us reduce our time to market and our development costs,” says Liu. “Thanks to the documentation available on the AWS services, as well as the support of the AWS account team, we are able to work efficiently.”

Ucarer runs its platform code on Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) instances. Incoming data traffic enters via Amazon Route 53, with Elastic Load Balancing and Auto Scaling distributing the traffic across instances and automatically scaling instances depending on the amount of data traffic coming to the platform. The company uses AWS Certificate Manager to automate the handling of SSL/TLS digital certificates, which confirm Ucarer site’s trustworthiness through a green padlock symbol in the URL address bar.

The company relies on Amazon Relational Database Service (Amazon RDS) to contain data on both caregivers and customers using the platform. Ucarer uses an Amazon RDS Multi-AZ deployment to deliver high availability and durability for its database instances. As part of the service, data from the primary database is replicated to other instances in different AWS Availability Zones. The business uses AWS CloudFormation to manage its AWS resources and AWS Device Farm to test software updates on Android and iOS devices before they go live.

Today, Ucarer is evaluating Amazon Lex as a conversational interface for the platform, and is looking to introduce Amazon Machine Learning in 2018 to identify patterns in user behavior that will help direct platform development.

Despite a quarterly growth rate of 100 percent, Ucarer—using AWS—has the confidence that its IT platform is automatically scaling to support the increasing amounts of data traffic in its mobile app. Liu says, “We’ve recently expanded our operation to launch Ucarer in the United States before the end of 2017. Our experience has been that expanding into new markets with AWS is almost effortless. The deployment process is very simple.”

The company has reduced its IT costs and keeps resources focused on development. Liu says, “By using AWS, we have cut our IT costs by about 30 percent compared to an on-premises solution. AWS has also helped us lower IT-management expenditure by two thirds—freeing up resources for development.”

These savings are thanks to the managed services in solutions such as Amazon RDS, and the automation of services such as AWS Certificate Manager. Says Liu, “With AWS Certificate Manager, we’ve automated 97 percent of the work around digital certificates—saving us hours each month.”

Amazon Lex could help Ucarer tailor its platform to the needs of its target audience. “We’ve created a more user-friendly interface with AWS, and with Amazon Lex, we could give our platform conversational capabilities,” says Liu. “Integration with a speech-interface library would be more technically challenging and expensive without a service like Amazon Lex.”

Learn more about building mobile apps using AWS.