Under Armour produces performance footwear, apparel, and equipment. With a mission to make all athletes better through passion, design, and the relentless pursuit of innovation, Under Armour products are sold worldwide to athletes at all levels. The company’s Connected Fitness platform powers the world’s largest digital health and fitness community—more than 180 million users—through a suite of applications: UA Record, MapMyFitness, Endomondo, and MyFitnessPal.
The Under Armour Connected Fitness platform is in high-growth mode, with more people using its suite of fitness apps every day. However, the company struggled to manage that growth while relying on an IT hosting provider. “We wanted to be more dynamic and focus more on our growth instead of optimizing our data center footprint,” says Jesse Demmel, vice president of platform engineering for Under Armour Connected Fitness.
Under Armour also sought the elasticity to support cyclical app usage. For example, the MyFitnessPal nutrition tracking app sees a spike in new users on New Year’s Day. Some of the company’s other apps experience usage spikes in the summer season. And all the apps see more traffic on weekends. “We see at least twice as much app traffic on weekends and early in the work week,” says Demmel. “Managing and optimizing that cyclical traffic in a data center was challenging in terms of spinning up compute resources quickly.”
The organization also sought more reliability and high availability for the Connected Fitness platform. “We had two data centers, and if there were any problems in our primary data center, we had outages,” says Demmel. “Given the size of our user base, that was not good for our brand. If systems are down, that impacts people who are trying to improve their health and fitness worldwide."
After deciding that a cloud solution would be the best fit for its elasticity and reliability requirements, Under Armour chose to move its MapMyFitness and UA Record apps to the Amazon Web Services (AWS) Cloud. “MyFitnessPal and Endomondo were already running on AWS, and we wanted to have the entire Connected Fitness platform on AWS,” says Demmel. “AWS is the biggest player in the market and more experienced than anyone else. It’s also continuously creating new services, and that’s important for us because we are an innovation company.”
The Connected Fitness platform now runs on nearly two thousand Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) instances. The company also uses Auto Scaling to automatically scale up its Amazon EC2 capacity to maintain performance during spikes in app use and decrease capacity during lower usage periods. More than 180 million global Connected Fitness users authenticate using a cross-region architecture built using Amazon DynamoDB. Additionally, the organization is using Amazon Redshift as a data warehouse for Connected Fitness user data in combination with other partners. Together, the Connected Fitness apps emit millions of event messages per hour via the Apache Kafka distributed message system and persist hundreds of terabytes of data into Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3). From there, some of the data is transformed, aggregated, and made available via Amazon Redshift, where Under Armour employees can analyze the data and use that analysis to drive business decisions.
Under Armour is now able to elastically scale its Connected Fitness apps up or down based on user demand. “Moving to the AWS Cloud has enabled us to optimize all our apps for our global user base,” says Demmel. “We can scale dynamically and automatically provision new instances to support traffic spikes on weekends for some apps and early in the work week for others. We weren’t able to do that previously.”
The company’s platform also has more reliability and high availability now. “Using AWS we have access to multiple Regions and Availability Zones, which ensures high availability for our millions of global users,” Demmel says. “That means we can enhance our brand by giving our digital community a fantastic experience.”
As a result of using AWS, Under Armour can quickly build out new product offerings. “The sports apparel and connected fitness industries are very competitive, and we need to innovate to stay ahead,” says Demmel. “By relying on AWS, we can innovate faster and deliver the features our users are asking for.” As an example, Under Armour can support its continuous-delivery model of software deployment. “We deploy new code to production multiple times a day, and the AWS Cloud helps us do that more easily,” Demmel says.
In addition, Under Armour is better prepared to expand the Connected Fitness platform. “We now have the ability to spread all across the globe on the back of the AWS Cloud,” says Demmel. “That’s a phenomenal asset for us as we start looking more seriously at international growth strategies. As we grow our Connected Fitness platform running on AWS, we will be able to do it in a way that improves the user experience and provides lower latency for our users in new regions.”
During this expansion, the company also expects to lean more on AWS Enterprise Support. “We weren’t expecting AWS to be so good at enterprise-level account management,” says Demmel. “That will really benefit us in the long term as we continue to ramp up our use of AWS.”