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How we use AWS to manage our product services

At the end of last year our flagship product Twine completed a migration. From Amazon to… Amazon.

Perhaps I should explain.

Previously our systems were all hosted on Amazon EC2. We had some servers running applications, some running search, some running databases and so forth. We treated Amazon like a normal hosting company. There were all the usual benefits to this, we could quickly create new servers, add disk space, work out why our search server was running slowly and all the other mundane daily maintenance tasks you’d expect any software-centric company to do.

Early last year (2015) we decided that we needed to make some updates to our software stack and at the same time move Twine onto it’s own set of servers, separate from Browser. We brought in our Devops specialist to help architect the change and help leverage Amazon Web Services (AWS) to focus our IT assets, you may have heard from him on our blog recently ‘How we auto scale our products with AWS‘.

Amazon the force multiplier

The depth and breadth of the AWS offering means that we can offload almost everything to services managed by AWS and the resulting change to our network setup is quite dramatic.

Instead of managing database clustering and backups, we let AWS handle it.

Instead of managing cache servers, we let AWS handle it.

Instead of managing elasticsearch clusters, we let AWS handle it.

And I could go on.

We’ve reached a point where we can offload virtually everything that is not our core application to an AWS managed service of some kind, and we’ve now begun moving parts of our application to services like Lambda. This allows us to go one step further and only pay for the compute when we need it rather than the “always on” approach of traditional virtual machines. Taking this concept further we are now able to use tools such as Cloudformation to automate the orchestration of the entire Twine stack giving us a dependable and repeatable process.


If a client needs an entire copy of our Twine product hosted in China?

No problem - give me an hour and it’s all set up.

Developer wants to compare MySQL vs MariaDB, Redis vs memcache?

No problem, give me just a few minutes.

The impact

The result

About Browser

Originally published at on February 27, 2016.

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