Customer Stories / Software & Internet / United States

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Zendesk Achieves 30% Performance Improvement and Reduced Carbon Emissions by Migrating to AWS Graviton Instances

Learn how Zendesk, a software company providing a complete customer service solution, improved performance by 30 percent and saved 42 percent per month by migrating to AWS Graviton instances.


infrastructure costs

Up to 30%

performance improvement

Over 50% reduction

of relevant monthly carbon emissions

Increased ability

to innovate


customer experience


Software company Zendesk wanted to optimize its infrastructure costs while increasing performance and reducing carbon emissions. The company had set several ambitious climate goals, such as achieving carbon neutrality, scaling carbon removal technologies, and committing to set additional science-based targets.

The company had been all in on Amazon Web Services (AWS) since 2018, and in 2022, it began migrating many of its workloads to instances powered by AWS Graviton processors, which are designed by AWS to deliver an optimal price performance for cloud workloads. This included migrating the relational databases that support its core application. After migrating, Zendesk improved performance by up to 30 percent, reduced costs by up to 42 percent, and achieved better environmental sustainability while increasing its capacity for innovation.

Collaborating office employees

Opportunity | Using AWS Graviton-based Instances to Meet Business Goals for Zendesk

Zendesk, founded in 2007, is headquartered in California and helps business customers in 160 countries and territories worldwide manage customer interactions. The company offers software-as-a-service products that provide businesses with a centralized system to track, prioritize, and resolve customer queries quickly. Zendesk initially managed its own on-premises data centers but started migrating to AWS in 2017.

For the core application of its services, the company uses Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) instances, which provide secure and resizable compute capacity for virtually any workload. Zendesk was looking for ways to optimize compute costs for its core application and its use of Amazon Relational Database Service (Amazon RDS)—a collection of managed services that makes it simple to set up, operate, and scale databases in the cloud. This includes around 2,500 Amazon RDS clusters, each with multiple instances. Zendesk also wanted to improve the performance and scalability of its solutions and prepare its business for future innovation, all while working to reduce its carbon footprint. To build toward these goals, the company began to explore different Amazon EC2 instance types.

In March 2022, the company decided to upgrade its array of over 1,200 global clusters in Amazon Aurora—which offers high performance and availability at a global scale with full MySQL and PostgreSQL compatibility—from Aurora 1.17.7 to Aurora 2.10.2, which can run on AWS Graviton-based Amazon EC2 instances. “Migrating to AWS Graviton-based Amazon EC2 instances was motivated by the desire to prepare infrastructure for the future of innovation and take advantage of emerging technologies,” says Nan Guo, senior vice president of engineering at Zendesk. “By adopting that, we better position ourselves to use advanced Arm-based computing and stay at the forefront of innovation.” Zendesk completed the Aurora upgrade and migration of its core applications to AWS Graviton instances in May 2023.


We have a lot more confidence using AWS, and we want to adopt the latest technology as soon as it becomes available. This has been a great journey.”

Nan Guo
Senior Vice President of Engineering, Zendesk

Solution | Cutting Costs and Improving Performance and Environmental Sustainability Using AWS Graviton Instances

Zendesk is reducing its carbon footprint by using the energy-efficient AWS Graviton-based instances. Due to better performance achieved by workloads running on AWS Graviton-based instances, Zendesk also downsized the Aurora database instances because they can maintain the same application performance using fewer resources. “Sustainability is very important for Zendesk. Using AWS Graviton-based instances, we have reduced our upstream cloud-related emissions greatly and accelerated our progress toward our carbon neutrality goal,” says Shengyuan Su, sustainability director at Zendesk. 

Zendesk is also optimizing infrastructure costs and achieving better cost efficiency by using AWS Graviton-based instances. Upon completing this migration, Zendesk also downsized the Amazon EC2 instances it was using in production. This resulted in cost savings of around 42 percent for the company. “We saved money in 2022, and that money was saved and compounded in 2023, and those savings keep paying off for us,” says David Boothroy, senior director of foundation engineering at Zendesk. “It’s a big win on both the cost and scalability fronts.”

After Zendesk rightsized its instances, its applications also performed better. For the company’s core application, this performance improvement was 30 percent. The application now gives customers faster response times, which translates to a better customer experience.

The cost savings Zendesk achieved by migrating to AWS Graviton-based instances have been used to support innovation for the company. With the money it saved on infrastructure, Zendesk is investing in research and development as well as exploring new technologies to drive innovation.

“We are very interested in the innovation coming from AWS and want to connect that to our product development and infrastructure,” says Guo. “We have a lot more confidence using AWS, and we want to adopt the latest technology as soon as it becomes available. This has been a great journey.”

Outcome | Continuing to Innovate and Improve Using AWS Graviton-based Instances

Although Zendesk has migrated its core application to AWS Graviton–based instances, the company is still early in its journey. As of May 2023, the company completed migrating all of its Amazon RDS workloads to AWS Graviton-based instances. Zendesk also wants more teams to adopt AWS Graviton-based instances and plans to continue adopting new instance types for further reductions in cost and increases in performance efficiency. Zendesk is committed to working alongside AWS to further reduce its upstream cloud emissions and advance sustainability.

“By migrating to AWS Graviton-based Amazon EC2 instances, we’ve shown the business that there is value in staying on top of instance types and the innovation coming from AWS,” says Boothroy. “There are gains in cost, performance, and environmental responsibility, so we see benefits across many areas of our business.”

About Zendesk

Zendesk helps businesses worldwide manage customer interactions across various channels, including email, chat, and social media. The company facilitates efficient and effective support interactions to improve customer satisfaction.

AWS Services Used

Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2)

Amazon EC2 offers the broadest and deepest compute platform, with over 600 instances and choice of the latest processor, storage, networking, operating system, and purchase model to help you best match the needs of your workload.

Learn more »

AWS Graviton

AWS Graviton processors are designed by AWS to deliver the best price performance for your cloud workloads running in Amazon EC2.

Learn more »

Amazon Aurora

Amazon Aurora provides built-in security, continuous backups, serverless compute, up to 15 read replicas, automated multi-Region replication, and integrations with other AWS services.

Learn more »

Amazon Relational Database Service (Amazon RDS)

Amazon RDS is a collection of managed services that makes it simple to set up, operate, and scale databases in the cloud. 

Learn more »

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