13 Mar, 2017

Want to Know Something AWSome?

In January this year our Technical Director Mr Martin Hoyle, along with our Head Of Development Mr Matt Lewis headed off to Amazon’s AWSome Day Roadshow in Manchester, to learn a little bit more about Amazon Web Services (AWS).
This wasn’t their first encounter with AWS though. In fact, one of our development team’s very first forays into the world of AWS came much earlier, as part of our work with WDS Component Parts, during the roll out of their website to new global markets, but that’s a tale for another time…

Going back to the AWSome event, in a nutshell, it explored how AWS can be used to build and implement secure applications and IT services, and for Martin and Matt their focus was on the technical side of it. For us today, we’ll be looking into how the technical stuff can benefit businesses, with a little help from a more recent project of ours: Direct Blinds.

Direct Blinds are an online only brand, supplying quality, made to measure window blinds to customers nationwide. Our task at Pixelbuilders was to build them a new, fully functional ecommerce website capable of supporting their large, daily traffic volumes and handling hundreds of highly valuable online transactions. A big part of achieving these key objectives was not so much what the website could do, but what the server set up could do, and this is where AWS comes in.

Security, Scalability & Speed Is Possible With AWS

For Direct Blinds, we used AWS to host the website in a load balanced environment. That means the website has the advantage of running across multiple servers, which work in partnership to host the website. So when one server is over-stretched due to the volume of traffic for example, it can pass over to the other server to ensure the system doesn’t collapse.

What this means for Direct Blinds’ bottom line, is that the likelihood of the website suffering downtime is significantly reduced to the minimum probability, or in other words, their online revenue is protected from disruption due to server failure. After all, time is money and downtime means no money!
While the initial set up in a load balanced environment is aimed at ensuring the website is always fully functional, AWS is also highly scalable, and this scalability means the server set up can grow and develop as the website does.

So, even if Direct Blinds continue to build on their already impressive traffic volumes in the future and the existing set up needs to grow with it, we can very quickly and very easily support that change with additional servers. We can even set automation rules to do this automatically when particular thresholds and conditions are met. So it’s pretty much bye bye 500 errors (for 99.999999999% of the time).

What makes AWS so scalable in part, is Amazon RDS. Amazon RDS stands for “Relational Database Services” and this makes it easier to set up, operate and scale a relational database in the cloud. For businesses that basically means it’s a more cost efficient, resizable version of a standard relational database. Scalability aside though, Amazon RDS also manages backups, software patching, automatic failure detection and recovery which ultimately improves security too.

For Direct Blinds, we also used Amazon’s Content Delivery Network so that files such as images don’t require bandwidth, making the website quicker and ultimately improving the end user experience. And let’s not forget that search engines are becoming more and more invested in high speed websites too.

So to recap, Amazon Web Services have enabled us to deliver Direct Blinds a secure ecommerce website, which is fast and effective at delivering content to users and capable of handling high traffic volumes and online transactions seamlessly; reducing potential down time and protecting their ability to generate online revenue and we think that’s pretty AWSome. 

If you’re interested in how AWS could help support your ecommerce website, speak to one of our experts today.