Edmunds.com is a website that offers detailed, constantly updated information about vehicles to 20 million monthly visitors. Car shoppers visiting the company’s site and mobile apps can browse dealer inventory, read vehicle reviews, and see photos, videos, and feature stories. Taking advantage of Edmunds.com Price Promise, shoppers can instantly access accurate prices for cars and trucks currently for sale at 13,000 dealer franchises across the United States.
In a competitive online marketplace, Edmunds.com is always looking for an edge. However, the company was limited in its ability to quickly create new features and offerings for its customers. “We are a dynamic and innovative company and we often like to test new ideas,” says Ajit Zadgaonkar, the organization’s executive director of operations and infrastructure. “But with our traditional on-premises IT environment, our innovation sometimes had to be put on hold because it took so long to procure and set up new hardware. We wanted more elasticity and scalability to develop and deploy new projects.”
The company also wanted to optimize the costs associated with its data warehouse solution. “We spent a lot of money supporting our data warehouse system,” confirms Philip Potloff, chief digital officer for Edmunds.com. “We wanted a solution that was faster and more scalable, because our data volume was growing fast.”
Additionally, Edmunds.com wanted to reduce the cost of supporting its on-premises source code management system. “Overall, we are always looking at opportunities to enhance our capabilities while being more cost-effective,” says Potloff.
Why Amazon Web Services
Edmunds has historically been a forward-thinking company in terms of technology, so the early adoption of cloud solutions was a natural fit. “We wanted to become even more agile, dynamic, and elastic, and we saw the value in becoming a cloud company. It made a lot of business sense in terms of cost savings and elasticity,” says Potloff. In late 2012, Edmunds.com began exploring the idea of moving to the Amazon Web Services (AWS) Cloud. “We sought out other organizations that had deployed most or all of their critical application on AWS,” Potloff says. “After examining their successful path, it gave us confidence in the ability to move our complex services to the cloud and AWS.” Edmunds.com then evaluated the potential financial benefits of migrating its website to AWS. “Even using conservative estimates, we projected a savings of $32 million over a five-year period,” says Potloff. “When we paired the improved elasticity and growing service offering from AWS with our attractive financial model, the decision to undertake a complete migration was an easy one.”
Edmunds.com migrated its website and back-end systems to the AWS Cloud in early 2016. The website runs on approximately 2,000 Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) instances. The company is also taking advantage of Amazon Elastic Block Store (Amazon EBS), which provides persistent block-level storage volumes for Amazon EC2 instances. The organization uses Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3) for long-term data storage.
The company is also using Amazon Redshift as its data warehouse, supporting a 48-node cluster. Additionally, Edmunds.com relies on the Amazon EC2 Container Service (Amazon ECS), a container management service that supports the company’s Docker containers in the AWS Cloud. Most recently, the company started using AWS CodeCommit as its source control service for hosting 1,500 private Git repositories and more than 270 users. CodeCommit provides hosting, maintenance, backup, and scaling for the company’s website.
Edmunds.com is significantly reducing its technology costs by running its website on the AWS Cloud. “We expect to save $32 million in the first five years by running our website and other critical applications on AWS,” says Potloff. “For a growing company like ours, it is incredible that we are able to bend the infrastructure cost curve down as we continue to expand.”
The company can also more easily scale its website to meet traffic demand. “Depending on the traffic we see on the website, we can scale up or down whenever we need to,” says Potloff. “As an example, we can now process new online inventory in 30 minutes. It used to take 30 hours. That means we can get newly arrived cars at the dealership in front of our visitors that much faster, which benefits shoppers and dealers.”
Edmunds.com can also quickly scale its Docker container environment. “By using Amazon ECS for our Docker containers, we’ve able to reduce our response time from minutes to seconds in terms of scaling the entire environment,” says Potloff.
In addition, Edmunds.com has decreased time to deployment for new website features. “We can innovate at a faster pace because of the elasticity of the AWS Cloud,” says Zadgaonkar. “Before, it might have taken us six months to roll out a new idea into production, but now we can do it in a week.”
With Amazon Redshift, the company has a much more scalable data warehouse. “Our data volume keeps growing, and we can support that growth because Amazon Redshift scales so well,” says Zadgaonkar. “We wouldn’t have that capability using the supporting on-premises hardware in our previous solution.” The company is also benefiting from its use of AWS CodeCommit, which has reduced the time the organization previously spent on administration and maintenance tasks by 95 percent.
“Overall, by relying on AWS, our engineers are able to put a lot more of their time into developing richer customer experiences, enhancing the reliability of our systems, and maintaining the efficiency of our continuous delivery pipeline,” says Potloff. “As a whole, AWS has had a very positive impact on our engineering culture, and it is helping to fuel innovation within our company.”
“We expect to save $32 million in the first five years by running our website and other critical applications on AWS. For a growing company like ours, it is incredible that we are able to bend the infrastructure cost curve down as we continue to expand.”
Philip Potloff, Chief Digital Officer