AWS Cloud Performance And Scalability
Since launching in 2012, it’s been an impressive run for VBO Tickets, an event ticketing software company. The company has grown steadily year-over-year between 35% and 60%. Event producers from across the globe rely on the company’s online processing engine to sell approximately 2.5 million tickets per year, and in 2019, the VBO Tickets senior management team expects to double the company’s revenue.
“Mission did a great job re-architecting our AWS environment and planning our database migration. With a consistent way of deploying and running our application, we can now focus more time on development.”
Co-Founder & Developer
- Moved ticketing database from shared instance to a managed AWS RDS database with a Microsoft SQL instance to decouple shared resources and improve overall performance.
- Built additional web server copies and implemented load balancing to disperse traffic to multiple machines when activity spikes occur.
- Deployed Jenkins continuous integration and orchestration tool to streamline application deployments.
- Wrote custom Microsoft PowerShell scripts to orchestrate application deployments.
- Implemented self-service, blue-green deployment process for testing and migrating code to production.
- Introduced Git source control to streamline collaboration among multiple developers.
- Provided on-going cloud infrastructure maintenance and policy governance.
- Upgraded Microsoft Windows 2008 to a newer version of Microsoft Windows.
As VBO Tickets experienced this rapid expansion, its cloud hosting environment began to show limitations. “We did not have the load-balancing capabilities we required to handle the spikes in online traffic that our clients sometimes experience,” explains David Boehme—co-founder and developer of the VBO Tickets software platform. “We also wanted to make it easier to scale our cloud environment to accommodate the anticipated continuing growth.”
Another challenge Boehme needed to address was the speed and ease of updating the company’s software. As a cloud-based application, the VBO Tickets platform goes through frequent code updates. Boehme wanted to automate the process so internal developers could focus on code enhancements and not spend too much time applying changes to the production environment.
Boehme first identified Amazon Web Services (AWS) as the best-performing and most cost-effective cloud platform to meet the VBO Tickets needs. While designing the AWS environment, Boehme realized the company would benefit from the assistance of a solution provider with in-depth cloud expertise.
“We first considered hiring someone to manage our AWS architecture,” Boehme says. “But our strength is coding software, so that’s where our focus must be. We knew we could optimize our coding output by relying on a third party that specializes in AWS to re-architect our cloud environment.”
Through online searches and consultations with colleagues, VBO Tickets identified five potential partners to help redesign the AWS cloud environment. After meeting with all five candidates, Mission rose to the top of the list and won the partnership with VBO Tickets by demonstrating superior cloud expertise.
“We discovered just how complex it is to manage our database online, and getting our application to work with a load balancer would also prove to be difficult,” Boehme says. “We decided to collaborate with Mission as a partner who knew how to apply cloud best-practices so we could overcome these hurdles.”
“Mission values every client relationship, and the entire team is willing to do whatever it takes to succeed. Each person individually assumes responsibility to make sure tasks are completed.”
Co-Founder & Developer
Boehme adds that Mission offers cloud consultation services at an affordable cost, and it’s a bonus that Mission has an office not too far from the VBO Tickets office. “Working with a partner in the same time zone facilitates communications, and it’s easier to build a strong relationship when face-to-face meetings can take place,” Boehme stresses.
VBO Tickets is always kept up-to-date on the status of tasks and incidents, and Boehme receives information through a combination of phone calls, text messages and emails. “Mission immediately acknowledges our inquiries, and we always know how long it will take to address our requests,” Boehme stresses.
To address the issue of unexpected spikes in ticket-buying activity, Mission moved the VBO Tickets database from a single, monolithic EC2/Microsoft SQL database to a managed AWS RDS database with a Microsoft SQL instance. Decoupling the database resolved the resource contention issue and allowed website operations to stabilize. Mission also worked with VBO Tickets to understand their application better and helped resolve a previous issue within the application that prevented VBO Tickets from running web servers in parallel behind a load balancer.
To streamline application releases, Mission deployed an open source orchestration software solution, Jenkins, on a Microsoft Windows management machine to enable the developers to run their own releases (deployments). Mission also wrote custom Microsoft PowerShell scripts that orchestrate the deployment of application code to the web servers and attachments to load balancers. Additionally, an interface was built within Jenkins to run all these jobs, which in the end provided all the necessary automation to allow VBO Tickets to release and integrate code seamlessly.
Since moving the VBO Tickets domain hosting and registration to AWS, Mission has maintained the cloud infrastructure and the policies that govern the environment. As part of these on-going management services, Mission deployed AWS CloudWatch for monitoring the infrastructure, alerting with SNS, Python Lambda EC2 instance backup scripts, and CloudTrail logging. Mission also updated the VBO Tickets environment from Microsoft Windows 2008 to a newer version of Microsoft Windows.
- Streamlines transition from previous cloud environment to avoid interruptions in business activity.
- Provides secure web server load-balancing to automatically handle workload spikes.
- Delivers ability to easily scale compute and storage resources as the client base expands.
- Creates secure cloud development environment to streamline code changes, testing and deployment.
- Offers the flexibility to utilize global cloud data centers for servicing customers in Europe and Africa.
Partnering with Mission helped VBO tickets overcome a key technology challenge. VBO Tickets now has the tools in place to integrate their application code seamlessly into the AWS platform so the development team can stick to creating new features and improvements for the ticketing software.
In addition to helping VBO Tickets improve the performance of its AWS environment, Mission played a key role in identifying enhancements that VBO Tickets has applied to its software development process. The developers previously developed application updates on local desktops and pushed the changes to the web servers via FTP (file transfer protocol). Mission alleviated the situation by setting up a virtual private network (VPN) server. Every software programmer can now securely access tools on a dedicated development server, such as Git and Jenkins.
As VBO plans to transition its software development environment from Microsoft ASP to the Microsoft .NET application framework, Mission will play key role in helping make the change. “.NET is more complicated because you have to push an entire library, not just a single file,” Boehme explains. “Mission will help us by adding a staging server and create a new script for Jenkins to push the library to staging. From there, we can test and move the updates into production.”
The success of the partnership with Mission is sure to continue as VBO Tickets plans to open a new office in South Africa and will start utilizing an AWS data center in Germany to serve clients in Europe. “Thanks to Mission, we now have a high-functioning cloud hosting environment that can scale when necessary,” Boehme says. “We can easily add more web servers and expand our database capacity. These capabilities are vital because the bigger we grow, the more prepared we need to be for events that can cause sudden increases in ticket-buying activity.”
Located in San Jose, VBO Tickets went to market in 2012, providing an online software platform that enables event producers to create, manage and sell tickets from virtually anywhere. The platform seamlessly integrates with any customer-facing website and is utilized by a diverse set of clients—ranging from performing arts venues to educational organizations, sports teams, museums, festivals and comedy clubs.