Founded in 2005, Wego is a leading travel search engine for the Asia-Pacific and Middle East regions. The company searches flight and accommodation prices from more than 700 travel websites and presents the best deals to its customers. Wego’s partners include airlines, large hotel chains and consolidation websites such as Agoda and Expedia. The company provides travel content to various web properties. With headquarters in Singapore, Wego has 94 employees and offices in Bangalore, Jakarta and Dubai.
Initially, Wego’s founders purchased about 30 servers to run the search engine service in a co-located data center in Singapore. However, acquiring and managing the servers quickly became expensive and time-consuming with only one system administrator. Wego moved to a virtualized environment, running about 100 virtual machines on 30 physical servers. Rapid growth also made Wego realize that it needed a more flexible infrastructure solution that could evolve with the company.
Additionally, Wego faced performance challenges with its SAP Business One application, which provides general administration, financial, sales, banking, inventory and human resource functions for all Wego offices. At the time, the SAP application resided on a server in Wego’s Singapore offices for security reasons. As the business grew, performance began to slow down until only on-site users could access the system. Wego needed a flexible IT infrastructure that would allow it to grant access to its SAP application by multiple users in any place and at any time.
Why Amazon Web Services
“We decided to explore a cloud environment because we wanted the ability to scale to support long-term growth,” says Son Phung, Chief Technology Officer. “We wanted to reduce infrastructure overhead, so we needed a supplier who could manage rapid restoration for our database and business-critical applications, as well as improve stability for our website. We push out new features very quickly, so it’s important to have computing resources available on demand.” In 2011, Wego decided to take advantage of Amazon Web Services (AWS) for scalable compute capacity and to optimize performance for its SAP application.
Flexible compute capacity for optimized workloads
Wego migrated its website and application servers to AWS over a three-month period. “AWS provided us with excellent advice and support throughout the migration process,” says Son. Wego uses the Ruby on Rails web application framework to support its front-end services, backend data processing, and storage services. The Wego environment sits within an Amazon Virtual Private Cloud (Amazon VPC) to isolate the company’s private servers and reduce the risk of data loss. Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3) stores images, logs and pricing data in and Amazon CloudFront delivers content to users worldwide with low latency and high transfer speeds.
The company operates up to 159 Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) instances to run its software, applications and databases— including Ruby on Rails, Apache Storm, Apache Spark, CDH, Elasticsearch, Hazelcast, Mesos, and Docker. Wego uses a variety of Amazon EC2 instances for different workloads— for example, using Amazon EC2 c3.xlarge instances for websites, as well as c3.4xlarge and c3.8xlarge instances for indexing, data mining and other business intelligence (BI) workloads.
Improved access and performance for SAP on AWS
Wego started having conversations with AWS about moving its SAP system to the cloud in December 2013. “We had meetings with AWS to learn how running our SAP system on the cloud could benefit us technically and from a business perspective,” says Hansel Baro, System Administrator. “We had a month-long trial in which we deployed our SAP applications on AWS while still running the on-premises system. Our finance team found it faster to connect to SAP Business One on AWS than to the physical server.” After the successful trial, Wego moved its entire SAP system — including database and applications — to the AWS Cloud by June 2014.
Wego is using AWS Support, Developer-level to troubleshoot any issues with its SAP system and Son is extremely pleased with the level of service. “AWS will come back to us within one or two hours and resolve our concern with a high level of technical expertise,” he says.
Running on the AWS Cloud has improved cost-effectiveness, reliability, performance and security for Wego. “The cost-savings have been significant,” says Wayne See, Vice President of Engineering. “We no longer need a designated system administrator or two-person team to run our infrastructure for us. This alone has reduced our expenditures by about $120,000 per year. As a result, we’re 25 percent below budget and expect to recoup our data migration costs in less than 12 months.”
As its user numbers tripled, Wego has been able to scale compute capacity for its search engine to avoid service delays. The AWS Cloud has also created a more reliable environment for Wego’s developers. They can now provision new instances for development, testing and production in five minutes. “On AWS, we can deploy a new application 75 percent — or three weeks — faster than we did in our previous environment,” says Son.
Running its SAP application on AWS has allowed the Wego finance team to complete end-of-month reports and other tasks more efficiently. Wego boosted its internal efficiency by purchasing a Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) license that allows the finance team to access the system remotely and has made the software available to multiple users concurrently. “The ability to connect anytime from any location is the most important benefit,” says Son. “Running our SAP Business One application on AWS has also increased the availability of our core applications to nearly 100 percent,” he adds. To further improve its SAP application, Wego secures its data against loss or unauthorized access by using security best practices. “Daily backups at 10:00 pm combined with hourly backups running between 7:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m. on weekdays makes SAP data not only more secure, but also easier to retrieve,” says Son.
Moving ahead, Wego plans to adopt a multi-region solution that will place critical infrastructure closer to users in different countries. “I’ve been delighted by the results of us using AWS services,” says Son. “We’ve saved time and money – and not having to worry about the stability of our IT infrastructure is the greatest benefit of all.”