Busuu—the social network for learning languages—was founded in 2008 by Bernhard Niesner and Adrian Hilti. Based in London, the startup offers premium language-learning software as a service to 60 million people worldwide via its website and apps. It has won numerous awards for its innovation in the education technology sector, including Best Free Language Learning App from PC Magazine, a spot on the Bloomberg Innovators list, and being named Google Play Editor’s Choice 2015.
Needed to scale to meet an ever-growing user base and handle spikes related to seasonal changes and marketing campaigns.
Wanted to free developers from the time-consuming work of setting up and managing infrastructure so they can focus on releasing new features.
Wanted to ensure an excellent user experience for a global audience of language learners.
Runs its entire infrastructure on AWS using services such as Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3), Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2), Amazon Simple Queue Service (Amazon SQS), Amazon CloudFront, and Amazon Elastic Transcoder for audio processing.
Saves developers time by using managed services such as Amazon Relational Database Service (Amazon RDS), Amazon ElastiCache, and Amazon DynamoDB.
Its business intelligence (BI) toolset includes Amazon Redshift and Amazon Elastic MapReduce. Busuu is also developing a project to direct all its tracking and analytics data through Amazon Kinesis.
Can support constant growth: While its user base has grown to 60 million, Busuu has not had to drastically increase the size of its team because all resources can be deployed simply in AWS. It can process 60,000 HTTP API requests a minute, but also handle spikes of three or four times normal levels with ease.
Can focus on developing the product: By offloading management of many services to AWS, developers can quickly set up environments and begin work delivering valuable features. For example, Amazon RDS for Postgres was set up in just 10 minutes, and now handles 500 million rows of learner progress data, with 5 million new rows added each day.
Can make better decisions with faster BI: Busuu processes around 23 GB of BI data each night, representing around 3.5 million learning events a day. This means staff can get quicker answers to help them better understand past events and plan for future ones. The team can use Amazon EC2 Spot instances to analyze numbers and answer questions within 10 minutes.
Can reach global learners: Busuu has large numbers of users in South America, Asia, and Continental Europe. To provide audio, video, and images as quickly as possible, it uses the Amazon CloudFront content delivery network (CDN), which integrates with its other AWS technologies and saves the team the hassle of setting up a CDN from scratch.
“When we get featured on the Apple or Google Play stores, our registrations can quadruple in an instant. AWS helps us scale easily to stay ahead of the curve.”
Rob Elkin, Chief Technology Officer