RallyUp

RallyUp Optimizes Infrastructure Performance and Reduces AWS Costs by Tapping into Mission Cloud Expertise

Executive Summary

To ensure uptime of an online fundraising platform, RallyUp needed a cloud services provider with expertise and resources to stabilize its existing AWS environment, build a new modernized environment, and provide ongoing management and monitoring. To solve these challenges, RallyUp collaborated with Mission, which delivered its Mission Cloud One and Managed DevOps services to tune the existing environment and to apply enhancements for a new AWS environment. Specific improvements applied by Mission include auto-scaling and load balancing of AWS compute resources, machine image configurations, access management, and blue-green application deployments. With these capabilities, RallyUp has stabilized application performance and can deploy application updates without website downtime. The RallyUp online fundraising platform continues to process transactions even when site visitors increase from 5K to 100K, and the company has created a stronger security posture to protect sensitive data. With cost-optimization measures recommended by Mission, RallyUp expects to reduce cloud infrastructure costs by 30%.

“Mission quickly established itself as our best choice. They were the first to take the time to understand our needs and provide a detailed plan for how to stabilize our current environment. They also offered improvements for our future environment—we could tell Mission would always be proactive in managing our infrastructure, and they collaborated effectively with AWS to come up with a cost-effective solution within our budget.”

Steve Bernat
Founder and CEO

Highlights 

  • Scales server instances automatically when workload spikes occur.
  • Balances workloads among server instances.
  • Applies identity management and multi-factor authentication to ensure authorized access.
  • Enables blue-green deployments to streamline application updates.

The Challenge

RallyUp first migrated the infrastructure supporting its fundraising platform from a colocation facility to AWS in 2015. In 2016, the company experienced explosive growth when handling a fundraising campaign featuring the Nike MAG, a self-lacing sneaker inspired by the movie Back to the Future.

The partner supporting RallyUp at that time configured the AWS environment to properly scale as the workload demand on the fundraising platform spiked. But in the ensuing years, as the partner went through two acquisitions, the management of the environment began to wane.

On two occasions, the RallyUp website experienced downtime due to improper auto-scaling. RallyUp also discovered patching fell behind schedule, and the environment required right-sizing server instances and decreasing the number of servers in use.

“We experience large workload swings depending on the number of fundraising campaigns our clients run and how well the campaigns perform,” Bernat points out. “On one day we may have 5K visitors, and the next we may have 100K. We need our AWS environment to not only automatically scale up when dramatic jumps in activity occur, but also scale down afterward so we can control costs.”

Why AWS?

Despite the RallyUp platform running on Microsoft Windows and the .NET framework, Bernat chose the AWS cloud environment over Azure in 2015 because of the maturity of the AWS platform. Another key factor is the extensive pre-configured third-party integrations that AWS offers. This makes it possible for RallyUp to connect its fundraising platform to services such as Stripe, Google Analytics, ActiveCampaign, Facebook, and Teamcity.

“We also value the wider range of managed technology services we can tap into within the AWS environment,” Bernat adds. “And it’s a plus that their partner network is so strong—it gives us multiple viable options for who we can turn to.”

Why Mission?

As Bernat began to look for the cloud infrastructure expertise his company required, the strength of the AWS partner network proved beneficial. AWS provided several suggestions that Bernat considered, including Mission.

“Our expertise is in fundraising and software development—not the infrastructure supporting our platform. We needed a partner to proactively monitor our environment and resolve infrastructure issues before they impact our customers.”

Steve Bernat
Founder and CEO

Strategy and Solution 

Mission provided its Mission Cloud One service, which includes a 24/7 team of cloud operations engineers to monitor the health of the RallyUp environment, apply system patches, and run system back-ups. The service also provides cloud analysts to identify cost-optimization opportunities. 

Mission also delivered Managed DevOps services to improve the AWS environment. Enhancements include auto-scaling to spin up new servers and load balancing for when workload spikes occur, instance resizing, and image building using the Amazon Machine Image service.

“We used to have three configuration management tools, but Mission implemented Chef to move that process into a single tool (AWS Config),” Bernat says. “It’s now easier to manage machines and to push images to auto-scaling groups.”

To increase the security posture of the RallyUp AWS environment, Mission used AWS Security Hub to benchmark the security policies. Mission then reviewed the AWS Identity and Access Management (IAM) policies and applied configuration changes. Mission also created a self-serve, multi-factor authentication policy along with the removal of public write access to Amazon Simple Storage Service (S3) and closing ports on Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) to block brute-force attacks. 

Another key service provided by Mission was the implementation of blue-green application roll-outs. RallyUp can now leverage automated reference deployments, which makes it possible to test changes without impacting the production environment. 

Results and Benefits

  • Stabilizes application performance to eliminate downtime.
  • Deploys application updates without website downtime. 
  • Continues processing transactions when site visitors increase from 5K to 100K.
  • Creates stronger security posture to protect sensitive data.
  • Reduces cloud infrastructure costs by 30%

“The blue-green application deployment process Mission configured is a huge help,” Bernat emphasizes. “We can now roll out application updates without taking the platform offline. That means no interruptions to any fundraising donations coming in for our customers.”

Since beginning the partnership with Mission, the performance of the AWS infrastructure has stabilized, and the RallyUp fundraising platform has not experienced any downtime. 

“The improved performance comes from a combination of the changes Mission applied to our infrastructure and the fact that they monitor the environment. Mission identifies issues and makes any necessary adjustments to compute resources before any impact is felt by our customers.”

Steve Bernat
Founder and CEO

Bernat adds that it’s refreshing to work with a partner like Mission that is always a step ahead rather than having to ask for updates and resolutions to issues. “Whether it’s system patching or advising us on new AWS services, Mission stays on top of things,” says Bernat. “We no longer have to worry whether our environment is in good hands. And when new AWS services are available, Mission lets us know if we can benefit from them.”

From a cost-optimization standpoint, Mission has identified measures that Bernat plans to implement once RallyUp cuts over to the new AWS environment designed by Mission. “We estimate we will reduce costs by up to 30 percent,” Bernat says. “And it’s good to know Mission will keep an eye on the costs over time to look for additional savings.”

Next Steps

For other companies facing a similar challenge as RallyUp, Bernat says, “Mission develops a plan, delivers on the plan, and their experts are very competent. They understand client situations, and if someone doesn’t know something, they find a resource who does. The Mission plan attracted us at first, but it’s the people who made us want to keep the partnership going.”

RallyUp is now working with Mission to plan a migration of its SQL database to Amazon Aurora and a containerization project for the .NET application running the fundraising platform. This will expand the platform’s scalability capacity and further accelerate application roll-outs.

“Before Mission came along, we almost decided to move our infrastructure to Azure, but Mission’s cloud expertise and its ability to get projects done on time convinced us to stay with AWS. It all goes back to planning—Mission has the project management resources to harness their technical expertise to design, deploy and support cloud solutions that help us achieve our mission of helping organizations across the world in their fundraising efforts.”

Steve Bernat
Founder and CEO
AWS Services
  • Auto Scaling
  • Elastic Load Balancing (ELB)
  • Machine Image
  • Config
  • Security Hub 
  • Identity and Access Management (IAM)
  • Simple Storage Service (S3) 
  • Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) 
  • Aurora
Third-Party Integrations
  • Microsoft Windows
  • Microsoft .NET
  • Microsoft SQL
  • Chef
  • Terraform
  • Docker
About Company

RallyUp provides an online platform that allows nonprofits to create digital fundraising experiences and transact donor contributions. The platform is simple to use and flexible—giving organizations in the US, Canada, UK, Australia, and New Zealand the ability to mix and match fundraising components to effectively communicate and connect with target audiences. RallyUp builds solutions from start to finish, so customers don’t have to combine multiple platforms and technologies to achieve their fundraising goals.

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