About Better Generation
Better Generation has been manufacturing microgeneration data tools for consumers, corporations, and government agencies since 2006. The company’s primary offering is the Power Predictor sensor. The sensor sends wind and solar information to a website that produces financial and environmental site assessments for property owners interested in installing wind turbines or solar panels.
As a small company, Better Generation needed to develop a cost-effective infrastructure capable of rapidly deploying new services. The company must also accommodate erratic demand. Dom Starkey, Better Generation’s Technical Manager, explains, “As the load on our application depends on user uploads from a device that is outside, and the bulk of our users are in the United Kingdom, a period of poor weather may lead to a much lower number of uploads. When the sun reappears, so do our users, often in large numbers.”
Why Amazon Web Services
Faced with a range of cloud technology choices, Better Generation was attracted to the strong reputation of Amazon Web Services (AWS) within the industry. Starkey notes, “The AWS name was a big draw because we did not want to invest a lot of time in a smaller company that would not offer the same stability.”
In addition to stability, AWS gives Better Generation control and flexibility—come rain or shine. Today, the Power Predictor online application runs from an Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) On-Demand instance, with supplementary instances supporting third-party applications for in-memory caching and job queues. All pre-production staging is done on Amazon EC2 Small instances, and when traffic warrants extra processing capacity, the company bids on low-cost Spot Instances.
Better Generation stores the wind and solar data in Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3) along with Multi-AZ Amazon RDS for added redundancy. Periodically, Amazon Simple Email Service (Amazon SES) distributes license renewal emails to Power Predictor users. In the future, the company plans to increase its fault tolerance with Elastic Load Balancing. The diagram below reveals the Power Predictor architecture:
Figure 1. Better Generation Architecture on AWS
Outside of Power Predictor, Better Generation hosts its website and online store from a separate Amazon EC2 instance. Recently, the company also began storing promotional videos in Amazon S3, which are then delivered to viewers through Amazon CloudFront.
Since making the decision to harness the growth potential of AWS, Better Generation has expanded its impact on the microgeneration heating and electrical industry throughout the United Kingdom and beyond.
“The use of AWS has unquestionably saved time, money, and effort in many areas over the course of our online activity,” notes Dom Starkey. “When we started development as a small company, AWS allowed us to both plan to scale and to avoid high start-up costs. The payment system meant that we would only have to pay for computing when we were using resources. The size and utilization rate of computing services was highly unpredictable before we started and as such it would have been impossible to predict what our future needs would be. The flexibility of AWS allowed us to overcome these difficult early decisions.”