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AWS Cloudformation, Serverless, & Automation

A Story of Owning Change

About Rover

Rover was founded in 2011 in Seattle and is the nation’s largest and most trustworthy network of pet sitters and dog walkers. Rover connects pet parents to discover, book, and manage personalized care for their dogs, including in-home dog boarding, pet sitting, dog walking, and doggy day care. Stays and walks are booked and paid securely on every minute of every day. Rover offers premium insurance for all services, 24/7 support, and vet consultation. The platform also provides Rover Cards with walk mapping and activity tracking, mobile apps, photo and video sharing, and general background checks for sitters.

Rover logo

Right away, [1Strategy] provided us with best practices for AWS CloudFormation, giving us working examples in the context that applied to our particular situation so that we could implement it right away or when needed…giving us a repository of AWS knowledge.

James Thigpen, Web & Data Operations Manager

The Challenge

Rover was a startup created in the cloud and was knowledgeable with AWS when they approached 1Strategy with interest to leverage serverless architecture in their cloud environment. Rover’s small, advanced operation team focused heavily on automation prior to working with 1Strategy. However, their recent growth brought upon an increase work load that was too immense to operate Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) instances manually making it difficult to process and to deploy. Rover recognized that it required services like AWS CloudFormation, AWS Lambda, and Amazon API Gateway and wanted best practices guidance from 1Strategy’s AWS experts to utilize the elasticity and scalability of AWS.

1Strategy conducted a Well-Architected Review to assess their design on AWS, to better understand the business impact of their design decisions, and to provide valid recommendations to address their key issues:

  • Automate their provisioning of AWS services using AWS CloudFormation
  • Leverage Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2), Amazon Elastic Container Service (ECS) registry to support Docker containers for a future state of serverless implementation. At that time, their application was monolithic.
  • Take advantage of serverless technology for efficiency including AWS Lambda

"Another item that we had wanted to do, but weren’t sure how, was to break into AWS Infrastructure as Code (IaC)," said James Thigpen, Web & Data Operations Manager. "A big focus for us when 1Strategy was onsite was to have them show us how AWS CloudFormation works and explain the tooling around that entire universe, how it fits into the big picture, and how to utilize it."

Why Amazon Web Services

When Rover began in 2011, they knew that a cloud-based environment was a preferred way to go. "We chose AWS because AWS is the leader in the cloud space and has an ecosystem of services that really cooperate with each other," stated Thigpen.

Thigpen continued, "The cost benefits for having AWS cloud infrastructure is hard to beat, especially when you need to spin-up new instances or destroyed instances. From past experiences, creating a new server would require many steps from recognition, hardware installation, server colo, etc., which would have taken weeks or months. Whereas with AWS we would have a new machine application running in minutes."

Solution and Benefits: Turning to 1Strategy

AWS CloudFormation

1Strategy assisted Rover in provisioning AWS CloudFormation, enabling them to expand into a new region, improving their development productivity and environment creation, and fully automating their AWS CloudFormation so there are no manual steps.

"When 1Strategy arrived, we had a lot of scripts that were running manually," said Thigpen. "The best part is that 1Strategy came in listening and was flexible for our needs rather than following a rigid agenda. Right away, they provided us with best practices for AWS CloudFormation, giving us working examples in the context that applied to our particular situation so that we could implement it right away or when needed. They provided us with real code to working examples and answered our unknowns, giving us a repository of AWS knowledge."

Bryan Shelton, Senior Software Engineer added, "We were familiar with AWS CloudFormation but it was hard for us to get started. 1Strategy gave us good examples of how to implement AWS CloudFormation, while at the same time provided tips for how to avoid common pit falls."

Leveraging Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2)

Pet sitters and dog walkers are booked on Rover every minute of every day. As they looked to the future, Rover turned to 1Strategy for assistance in leveraging Amazon Elastic Container Service (Amazon ECS) for their infrastructure; this made their site faster, which now communicates faster and makes autoscaling easy to spin-up through more containers with tasks versus servers. 1Strategy built autoscaling groups, Amazon Elastic Container Service (Amazon ECS) clusters, and built-out Docker structure for their Amazon Elastic Container Service (Amazon ECS) clusters so that when ready, they could implement on their time table.

With Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2), Rover now receives the benefits of containers depending on their immediate processing needs and pay just for what they use. No longer will they need to run specific cluster-management software matching their hardware to their software needs. Instead, they can now run containers on Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) across an automatically managed cluster of instances within seconds. Not only does the use of Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) make autoscaling easier, but it is also much more cost-effective.

"Our short, 2-week engagement with 1Strategy jumped us far forward in our scheduling of needed AWS solutions much farther than if they hadn’t been here," said Bryan Shelton. "The business impact of working with 1Strategy on our infrastructure for this coming year is exciting and markedly different. The way we are running our production application is going to be significantly different this year, including standardization of deployment across different applications. We see us having a higher density of utilization of our instances in Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) providing us with better efficiencies with a positive material impact."

AWS Lambda

Additionally, by leveraging services like AWS Lambda, Rover can now run code without provisioning or managing servers and make better use of their existing computing budget for future innovation on the AWS platform.

"We had started shipping some services on top of AWS Lambda, but we’re not highly informed on this service and wanted best practices guidance from 1Strategy," said Shelton. "Our engagement with 1Strategy brought us up to speed on AWS Lambda and gave us an AWS education, which was valuable to us."

Thigpen added that their engagement with 1Strategy had a drastic business impact on their 2017 roadmap in two forms:

  1. The first impact was changing Rover’s 2017 plans to focus more on AWS Infrastructure as Code. This is something they had wanted to pursue and 1Strategy provided understanding and instructions so they can now execute and look at their infrastructure differently through this new lens of code.
  2. Secondly, 1Strategy gave Rover the tools to implement an immutable infrastructure that brought reliability and efficiency, making virtual instances disposable and operations simplified. They can now provision Amazon Machine Images and deploy code faster, allowing quicker response to any unexpected spikes in workloads. It was not until 1Strategy was onsite that Rover realized how important and necessary this was to their business plan and bottom line.

1Strategy also guided Rover with integration of DMS, host names, SaltStack configuration management, and other solutions.

"When 1Strategy came, they validated their knowledge of the AWS ecosystem. If it weren’t for them it would have taken months of exploration before we could implement any solutions," said Thigpen.

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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