About Universal Church
Igreja Universal do Reino de Deus (Universal Church or UCKG) was founded in Brazil in 1977. The Pentecostal Christian organization expanded rapidly over the following decades, and today has a presence in more than 170 countries. The Universal Church uses television, the Internet, newspaper, radio broadcasts, and blogs to promote its ministry. According to the church, its website, the Portal Arca Universal (Universal Ark Portal), and the blog of founder Bishop Macedo receive more than 30 million page views per month.
The Universal Church used to outsource its data center with a Brazilian host provider. However, whenever the organization broadcast special television and radio programs, the popularity of these events would cause the church to exceed server capacity, causing degradation and failure. “We had 20 servers and we were out of capacity,” says Rodrigo Prota, Pastor and IT Director of the Universal Church. “Our situation was critical. Purchasing additional servers to accommodate peak usage would have been a costly investment.” The outages and lack of capacity led the church to consider other alternatives.
Why Amazon Web Services
“We considered migrating our hosted solution to colocation services or shifting to the cloud,” says Prota. “We chose Amazon Web Services (AWS) because it was the fastest solution and would reduce costs.” The Universal Church worked with Dedalus, a member and consulting partner with the AWS Partner Network (APN), and completed the migration in just four days.
The Universal Church organizes its cloud environment in the US East (Northern Virginia) Region as follows:
Amazon Virtual Private Cloud (Amazon VPC) provides a secure, private environment for the Portal Arca Universal website. The Universal Church runs the website using Red Hat Linux and MySQL databases with Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3), Elastic Load Balancing, and Auto Scaling.
All blogs and campaigns use WordPress running on Red Hat Linux with MySQL databases, Amazon S3, Elastic Load Balancing.
The Universal Church also uses Amazon VPC to stream IURD TV, and deploys Amazon CloudFront for low latency and high data speeds. IURD TV runs on Microsoft Windows with MySQL databases, Elastic Load Balancing and Amazon S3.
Prota comments, “WordPress uses a lot of server capacity. We found that AWS has high performance, even with intensive WordPress consumption.” Overall, the Universal Church provisions 30 Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) instances and stores nearly 5 TB of data in Amazon S3 buckets. Figure 1 demonstrates the organization’s environment on AWS.
Figure 1. Universal Church Architecture on AWS
“We rely on our websites to reach our audience, so they need to be available,” says Prota. “By using AWS, we no longer need to invest money to support high traffic resulting from our events. We can increase or reduce the capacity and quantity of servers and pay only for what we use, when we use it. Our applications work well together on AWS, which ensures high availability. We estimate that the organization is saving approximately $1.25 million in hardware and labor by operating its properties on AWS.”
“The AWS Cloud brought us security, speed and flexibility,” Prota continues. “We plan to operate more solutions on AWS in the future. We want to be 100 percent on the AWS Cloud.”