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Amazon S3 and Amazon Athena

A Story of Owning Change

About Mediarails

Mediarails provides Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tools for marketers to compile and update all the sources and data for affiliate and influencer marketing programs and then display it in a simple, organized dashboard. Their SaaS platform enables brands to grow and enhance their digital partnerships. Mediarails provides performance insights and easy recruiting and management tools so you can make more placements, test more offers and grow your publisher network.


The success we had in working with 1Strategy is due to their valuable, expert knowledge they shared with us about AWS products and solutions … Recognizing these requirements was the overwhelming force in our effective strategy in moving ahead in the AWS cloud.

James Wing, Director of DevOps and Analytics at Mediarails

The Challenge

Mediarails pays close attention to delivering rapid marketing insights their clients need to be successful. In this case study, we take a brief look at Mediarails’ system of record and how we were able to address their specific Amazon Web Services (AWS) needs so they could continue their commitment to staying focused on constant innovation.

By using various sources like Google Analytics, Mediarails is able to track their clients’ website traffic, transactions, etc. This data was recorded in Mediarails’ previous system of record (Amazon Relational Database Service Aurora) and stored separately for each client in a small and unique transactional database. (See image.)

Mediarails System of Record prior to Amazon S3/Athena/QuickSight

With this current system of record, Mediarails had two main challenges:

1. Limited history of data: Mediarails’ prior system of record had a limited capacity to retain historical data, which inhibited their ability to derive value from their data over longer periods of time. Mediarails’ challenge was to have a near “unlimited” nature of storage with a cost-effective data solution of backup, recovery, failure detection and repair.

2. Centralized location for all clients: The second challenge was to address the specific requirements of organizing all clients’ individualized and segmented databases into one centralized location. Doing so would allow Mediarails to conduct the required queries on all of their clients, getting the results back rapidly. Their current system of record required additional time to create custom code to run queries and analyze each customer individually and then compare them to get the results.

Why Amazon Web Services

Mediarails’ innovative marketing solutions was created in AWS in September 2016. Their SaaS platform was created using Amazon Relational Database Service (RDS) Aurora as their backend database. Amazon RDS Aurora is a fully managed, MySQL-compatible, relational database engine that allowed them to set up, operate and scale a relational database in the cloud.

Mediarails solicited 1Strategy because of their in-depth knowledge of AWS solutions and know-how in leveraging the platform services of the AWS ecosystem.

The Benefits

Mediarails partnered and worked closely with 1Strategy, who performed deep dives on Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3), Amazon Athena, Amazon QuickSight and other AWS solutions to determine how best to solve their challenges. Mediarails is now leveraging Amazon Athena, a serverless, pay-per-use interactive query service or tool, and Amazon S3, a highly scalable object-storage solution providing replication and flexibility that the company needs.

Mediarails’ original plan was to utilize 1Strategy to assist with their creation of an Amazon Redshift cluster to be used for analytics of customers’ production data.

“Instead of a Redshift cluster, 1Strategy determined that using Amazon S3 and Athena will be a simpler, more cost-effective way to centralize the data while providing access and data segmentation for our customers,” said James Wing, Director of DevOps and Analytics at Mediarails.

One of the biggest advantages for Mediarails in using Amazon S3 is the relatively limitless nature of storage. By using Amazon S3 alongside Athena and RDS Aurora, Mediarails now has backups, especially if databases go down or need to be recovered. Without Amazon S3, Mediarails’ system of record is bound to allowing only a limited amount of data for a short period of time—approximately 90 days.

Mediarails turned to Amazon Athena for practical solutions to perform ad hoc analysis and provide quick, actionable business insights that they need internally. A key benefit for Mediarails in using Amazon Athena is the ease in creating one-off queries on all existing data in their S3 bucket by using familiar SQL.

“While features are still being developed, we welcome the power of Athena as a tool and look forward to the solutions it can provide to Mediarails,” Wing said. “1Strategy provided us their advanced skillset and capabilities in getting us up to speed on Amazon Athena and QuickSight,” Wing said. “I’m confident that we’ve learned critical best practices for both tools, which will be applied shortly as we move our reporting features closer to our customers.”

Wing added that 1Strategy delivered a comprehensive evaluation of competing technologies, including QuickSight, for their advancement in cloud computing. Mediarails’ use of QuickSight allows the company to have a direct connection to their myriad of data sources, prepare data sets and create analyses internally. Looking ahead, Mediarails will work with the Amazon QuickSight’s product team to discuss their roadmap for data preparation and visualization.

With Amazon S3, Athena and QuickSight Mediarails' customers can access their data and view reports/dashboards

“The success we had in working with 1Strategy is due to their valuable, expert knowledge they shared with us about AWS products and solutions and, particularly, Mediarails’ requirements for reporting solutions as a multi-tenant SaaS platform,” Wing said. “Recognizing these requirements was the overwhelming force in our effective strategy in moving ahead in the AWS cloud.”

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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