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Amazon Athena

A Story of Owning Change

About Experticity

Experticity has built the world’s largest community of influential category experts, connecting them with the world’s top brands to create a new breed of buying experience—one that is informed, genuine, and mutually beneficial. Experticity’s community of more than 1 million experts is comprised of industry professionals, category opinion leaders, online influencers, and passionate retail sales associates who are actively sought out for trusted recommendations on what to buy.

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1Strategy trained our developers and infrastructure team on various pieces of AWS infrastructure to allow us to migrate our entire production environment onto AWS. In addition, 1Strategy also reeducated our team on how to operate in the cloud and what AWS solutions and services would serve us best.

The Challenge

Experticity started out as a self-hosted infrastructure network to connect people—various experts in diverse categories such as mountain bikers, makeup artists, skiers, pet whisperers, and many more—to consumers with advice on what to buy. Experticity does this through two web-based services:, an online training tool of videos, quizzes, and interactive online content for retail salespeople; and which connects companies with influential brand advocates online.

As their base of consumers and experts rapidly expanded, Experticity’s on-premises infrastructure had reached its capacity. The company recognized that maintaining their current self-hosted environment would require continued financial and time expense, as well as an increase in dedicated staff to support it. “Over time as our network of experts has grown, we ran into capacity limitations with our self-hosted environments,” said Alex Daw, Chief Architect, Experticity. “We needed to upgrade significant amounts of our networking infrastructure and needed more reliable access to our internet connections for our traffic.”

Why Amazon Web Services

To address their capacity issues with their colocation environment, Experticity began looking at various cloud providers. “We decided to go with AWS because it has an unmatched set of features and services,” said Daw. After selecting AWS, Experticity took the advice from AWS account manager, Carly Wild, and began working with 1Strategy. “1Strategy knows AWS services inside and out as they focus exclusively on AWS,” said Wild. “What I like about 1Strategy is their philosophy to teach customers how to fish rather than holding the pole continuously for them. 1Strategy’s process is to partner with a client by training and teaching them how to leverage AWS correctly, which makes it efficient for the customer.”

For Experticity, 1Strategy conducted a Well Architected Review and provided ongoing guidance and review of their design and systems, including solutions for their Identity and Access Management process as well as a detailed outline of areas where improvement was needed. 1Strategy also offered Best Practices for various AWS services including Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2), Amazon Relational Database Service (RDS), Elastic Load Balancing (ELB), Amazon Elastic MapReduce (EMR), Amazon Aurora, as well as Amazon Simple Storage Service (S3) and Amazon Athena. “1Strategy trained our developers and infrastructure team on various pieces of AWS infrastructure to allow us to migrate our entire production environment onto AWS,” said Daw. “In addition, 1Strategy also reeducated our team on how to operate in the cloud and what AWS solutions and services would serve us best.”

The Benefits

One of the biggest benefits Experticity has seen in using AWS is through their utilization of Amazon Athena. For Experticity to provide a customized experience for an individual user, the company relies on analytics; it collects substantial information about users in order to best fit activities to other users who are more likely to engage with them. In the process of collecting and analyzing this information, a common challenge for Experticity has been how to quickly analyze vast amounts of information. Experticity turned to Amazon Athena, a serverless, pay-per use interactive query service or tool, which makes it easy to analyze large-scale data directly in S3 by using standard Structured Query Language (SQL) from which Experticity runs Hive DDL to create external tables. “We found that Amazon Athena offers the performance we need as it executes our large datasets and complex queries getting our results fast, in seconds,” said Daw.

According to Wild, Experticity is one of the early adopters of Athena and is reaping the rewards, as Athena makes it quick and easy to run their queries on S3 data without having to set up servers, define clusters, or manage the housekeeping that their previous query system would require. Amazon Athena also solves another issue for Experticity in analyzing their data in S3. “By using Athena, the company eliminates the need, the cost, and the effort for building complex data loading or ETL [Extract, Transform, and Load],” said Rich Uhl, Founder and CTO of 1Strategy. “With Athena, Experticity can now analyze their data directly in S3. Athena is then used to create table structures and schemas to S3 data with only the meta-data being stored in Athena. This is an advantage to Experticity as there is never any physical moving of data.” Prior to using Athena, analyzing and understanding considerable amount of information from their users with a traditional EMR cluster was a time-consuming process at a substantial cost. Daw adds, “However, using Amazon Athena, most results are delivered rapidly and you only pay for the queries that you run.”

Tapping into AWS, Experticity has dramatically reduced their infrastructure and operational costs while taking advantage of the AWS ecosystem, gaining access to various needed services like Amazon DynamoDB, Amazon Redshift, Amazon Aurora, and Amazon Athena. Additional benefits of using AWS are the flexibility and speed at which they can solve a problem specific to their business’ value. “Using AWS, allows us to spend our time improving our product and not having to worry about the infrastructure associated in running our product,” said Daw.

The work described in this engagement was originally completed by 1Strategy, a TEKsystems Global Services company acquired in 2019. As of June 2023, 1Strategy has fully integrated with TEKsystems Global Services to continue to deliver AWS expertise to customers. Learn more about our AWS solutions.

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