AWS Well-Architected Review: Serverless Architecture-AWS Step Functions
Boostability, established in 2009, was founded on a simple business model: to create affordable and effective SEO for the small business marketplace. Today, Boostability serves thousands of small businesses, helping them elevate their digital presence and succeed online. Boostability primarily works with partners that offer their white-labeled SEO, social media, and website build services to their SMB clients. The company serves more than 26,000 active clients and has over 400 employees based in two offices on the Silicon Slopes of Utah and satellite locations in Amsterdam and Berlin. It has been ranked in the Inc. 5000 list of the fastest-growing private companies in America for four straight years.
In the world of SEO (Search Engine Optimization)—the activity that increases or improves websites search engine rankings—content is necessary and valuable. Each day, small businesses around the world will optimize their online SEO presence by reaching out to Boostability’s WritersDomain looking for valuable content.
WritersDomain is an application created by Boostability that distributes writing tasks to a team of independent writers located around the world—creating quality content for their clients across diverse industries in English, French, Spanish, and German. These writing tasks include blogs, copy for websites, social media posts, and more.
Boostability’s challenge was to move this mission-critical application to a serverless stack, with the goal of developing this as a model for migrating other services to an AWS serverless framework.
Boostability is not new to benefiting from Amazon Web Services (AWS), having relied on their services including Amazon RDS, Amazon CloudFormation, and Amazon Lambda nearly since the establishment of their company. Though familiar with these and other AWS services, Boostability turned to 1Strategy, an AWS Advanced Consulting Partner, for their in-depth knowledge of AWS to conduct a serverless-focused AWS Well-Architected Review. Boostability needed to ensure that they were, in fact well-architected and are using AWS best practices to their full potential.
“Previously, we conducted a few experiments using AWS Step Functions and AWS Lambda on a serverless stack, resulting in a $20,000 per month savings. However, we hadn’t deployed an application entirely on a serverless framework. But after working with 1Strategy, we determined that moving to AWS on a serverless framework was the right move,” said Mason Meyer, Lead Developer at Boostability.
The Well-Architected Review, conducted by 1Strategy, uncovered several opportunities for improvement, including the benefits of deploying an AWS serverless framework architecture using AWS Step Functions for WritersDomain.
1Strategy provided best practices and explained that with AWS Step Functions the company will be able to coordinate the multi-step assignments this application requires. Doing so will also allow Boostability to run the entire process in a serverless and cost-effective way. This will permit them to scale with the flexibility to update or make a change for a particular client without writing code or modifying the entire application.
Boostability’s WritersDomain architecture is composed of two main pieces:
- Store Domain: an order is placed by customer, multiple types of content are managed, etc.
- Fulfillment Domain: a writer is assigned to the order, content is reviewed, payment is made to the writer, etc.
By using AWS Step Functions, Boostability will be able to better coordinate the multi-step process required by the Fulfillment Domain workflow. Previously, orchestrating both AWS Lambda functions as well as manual workflow steps (such as human writers completing the order) was challenging; with AWS Step Functions, these tasks can be managed in one workflow. Now, Boostability will be able to manage all these tasks seamlessly: assigning a writer to complete a task; reviewing, editing, and checking for plagiarism; client approval; and paying the writer.
Boostability’s serverless application using AWS Step Functions.
Diagram depicting the flow of custom queues using a parallel task:
This serverless architecture on AWS will also serve as a blueprint for future products and features. Boostability plans to create additional task systems that are scalable and flexible, and where their customers can order a wide range of digital marketing solutions in a variety of price points and service level agreements (SLAs).
Additionally, 1Strategy’s Well-Architected Review identified three areas of focus to better adhere to Well-Architected principles: Monitoring, Tagging, and Performance Optimizations.
In strengthening Boostability’s serverless architecture in AWS, 1Strategy provided guidance and best practices for monitoring AWS Lambda and API Gateway utilizing Amazon CloudWatch. With CloudWatch, Boostability will be able to monitor Lambda executions and API Gateway metrics, set alarms, and automatically react to changes. As needed, Boostability will be able to connect CloudWatch alarms to their Slack channel(s) via Lambda.
1Strategy directed Boostability to establish an effective tagging plan. Creating a tagging strategy for Boostability’s AWS resources will allow better cost monitoring and an easier way for the company to manage, search for, and filter their AWS resources. A tag is basically an identifying label (in the form of a key-value pair) that is applied to an AWS resource.
- Performance optimizations
Boostability can optimize performance for their serverless framework by enabling Amazon API Gateway caching. Caching the output of API calls will help to reduce latency and alleviate the load on the backend by returning faster results and deliver a more performant API.
“Through the AWS Well-Architected Review, 1Strategy was able assist us at Boostability to fine-tune the implementation of this mission-critical project,” said Meyer. “The Review plus 1Strategy’s additional coaching mean that we will have a reliable, performant, cost-effective service when it soon goes into production.”
Satisfied with the successful results of the WritersDomain model, Boostability will soon be migrating more types of services and tasks to AWS, taking advantage of the gains they will receive from AWS Step Functions and a serverless architecture.
“Using AWS Serverless Framework along with Step Functions and Lambda are key factors at Boostability as they reduce our IT operational costs and allow us the flexibility to focus on our application and not on our infrastructure,” said Meyer.
About the Partner
1Strategy is an Amazon Partner Network (APN) Premier Consulting Partner, focusing exclusively on Amazon Web Services (AWS). 1Strategy helps businesses architect, migrate, and optimize their workloads on AWS, creating scalable, cost-effective, secure, and reliable solutions. 1Strategy also helps customers get real value from their data using comprehensive machine learning models and artificial intelligence. 1Strategy holds the AWS DevOps, Migration, Data & Analytics, Well Architected, and Machine Learning Competencies, and is a partner of the AWS Public Sector Program. 1Strategy was one of the initial ten AWS Partners globally who was qualified and authorized by AWS to conduct a Well-Architected Review and is among the top Well Architected partners in the AWS eco-system. With experts having deployed AWS solutions since 2007, 1Strategy is a leader in custom training—providing customers with the knowledge, tools, and best practices to manage those solutions over time. 1Strategy is a TEKsystems Global Services company with teams in Seattle and Salt Lake City, supporting customers throughout the US and across every vertical.
For more information about how 1Strategy can assist your company in migrating to AWS, optimizing AWS solution, or in receiving an AWS Well-Architected Review, visit 1Strategy.com or contact us at info@1Strategy.com.