Over Christmas and New Year's, we experience a 300% increase in traffic volumes…. With Auto Scaling, we don’t have to worry. The system is set to scale automatically, and that’s what it does.
Birkir Barkarson Vice President of Engineering

The biggest wine community in the world, accessible to everyone—that’s what Vivino aimed to achieve when it launched its eponymous wine app in 2010. The startup’s journey has been a success. In the past six years, it has developed a database containing more than 10.3 million wines and attracted 22 million users who contribute to 100,000 ratings a day. By simply scanning a wine label, users get information such as the price, where they can buy the wine, and how it is rated by other users. It is the most downloaded mobile wine app in the world, helping people across the United States, South America, Europe, and Asia easily find a wealth of information about wine. Users can buy wine via the site or the app through the firm’s partners, and the Vivino team also regularly pushes email wine promotions to users.

 

● Vivino needed a scalable infrastructure that could support its ambitions for global growth. In 2016, the company went from about 12.5 million to 22 million users, and it expects to boost user numbers by up to 75 percent in 2017.

● Creating an automated, easy-to-use infrastructure was key to getting new features to market fast and to ensuring an excellent experience for users.

● The Vivino team wanted the flexibility to automatically handle weekly and seasonal spikes in load, such as on Saturdays and at Christmas and New Year’s.

● Vivino launched its service in the cloud using Amazon Web Services (AWS). It takes advantage of Auto Scaling for its Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) instances to deal with fluctuations in traffic. It also relies heavily on Amazon Simple Email Service (Amazon SES) and Amazon Simple Notification Service (Amazon SNS) to send sales promotions to Vivino users.

● Data from the app’s wine label scanner is uploaded directly to Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3) and then served via Amazon's CloudFront for faster access. The startup also uses the Amazon Relational Database Service (Amazon RDS) for its MySQL database.

● Driven by a need to give its sales team greater insight, Vivino is currently exploring Amazon Redshift to enable data analysis in order, for instance, to enable better targeting of users based on their purchase history.

● Scalable solution easily handles 300 percent traffic growth over the holiday season. Vivino can handle demand during its busiest time of year without any issues. “Over Christmas and New Year’s, we experience a 300 percent increase in traffic volumes. That’s mainly on December 24, 25, and 31. With Auto Scaling, we don’t have to worry. The system is set to scale automatically and that’s what it does,” says Birkir Barkarson, vice president of engineering at Vivino.

● Continuous deployment ensures a great experience for users. “Being fast to market has always been a huge deal for us. We’re the number one wine app worldwide because our service has the functionality and depth that people want, and that’s because we’re continuously getting new features to market using AWS.” An example Barkarson gives is using Amazon ElastiCache to add a cache layer to Vivino’s web servers. “It was an easy process that required very little overhead,” he says. “But without Amazon ElastiCache, it would have been a major task requiring more than 100 hours of my team’s time.”

● Flexible platform enables global expansion. Barkarson and his team can ensure the business is able to quickly expand into new markets. In 2016 alone, it launched in Belgium, Canada, Germany, Italy, and Switzerland. It plans to add France in 2017.

● Connecting millions of wine lovers to great offers. Push promotions are a vital part of Vivino’s business, accounting for about 85 percent of its revenue in 2016. Using Amazon SES and Amazon SNS, it’s easy for Barkarson and his team to set up marketing campaigns and to send wine offers to millions of users in seconds.

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