About Flipboard

Flipboard, located in Palo Alto, CA, is one of the world's first social magazines. Inspired by the beauty and ease of print media, the company’s mission is to fundamentally improve how people discover, view, and share content across their social networks.

The Challenge

From the beginning, Flipboard has run its infrastructure on Amazon Web Services (AWS). Greg Scallan, Chief Architect at Flipboard says, “Our service currently runs 100% on AWS in multiple availability zones.” He adds, “We chose AWS because they were able to provide a majority of the solution we needed as we built our data center. Also, we appreciated the flexibility as we tried out various solutions to our business vision.”

Why Amazon Web Services

Flipboard has incorporated AWS services as follows:

  • Amazon EC2 for all server side processing from handling end user requests to data crunching, including a good sized Hadoop infrastructure

  • Amazon SimpleDB for operational data

  • Amazon Relational Database Service (Amazon RDS) for mission critical data

  • Amazon Simple Queue Service (Amazon SQS)

  • Amazon CloudWatch

  • Amazon Elastic Load Balancing (Amazon ELB)

  • Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3) and Amazon CloudFront for static and dynamic content distribution

  • Amazon Mechanical Turk

To build their solution, the team used Python/Ruby AWS SDKs in their operational tools and administrative servers. Scallan explains, “We leverage the Java AWS SDKs for core engineering services. We utilize many different languages, choosing the language that best meets the requirements at hand.”

The Benefits

Flipboard has many hundreds of Amazon EC2 instances running and that number is continually growing with their increasing user base and feature sets. Scallan says, “We were able to go from concept to delivered product in approximately six months with just a handful of engineers, in large part because of the ability to deploy within a working cloud infrastructure very quickly.”

The Flipboard team is always investigating additional AWS solutions and is open to using additional products as their needs evolve.

The team has most appreciated the flexibility AWS has offered for prototyping before their first release. Scallan says, “This truly helped us release a working product on a highly aggressive schedule in a market with many emerging players.”