Web Technology

Distilled

Today, the industry-leading A/B testing tool developed by SEO consultancy Distilled serves up a billion requests a month and processes payments totalling millions. When we first met with them, the tool was just a prototype. It needed a robust, reliable, PCI-compliant infrastructure to launch.

What Distilled said...

We were effectively operating as a startup company within Distilled and had to ensure we spent our budget in the most effective way. The Scale Factory were able to leverage their ReadyScale solution to build our infrastructure extremely quickly.

Hiring an operations specialist would have cost us more in salary and other costs than hiring The Scale Factory, and with The Scale Factory we got a whole team!

The Challenge

Distilled came to us with a prototype for the new tool they wanted to launch. DistilledODN (Optimization Delivery Network) is a SaaS tool, deployed as a form of proxy in front of client websites. Once in place, the ODN can modify content, providing A/B testing capabilities for measuring the impact of content changes on SEO.

It needed to be PCI compliant, reliable, and have no noticeable impact on the performance of their clients’ sites. As they described it, this infrastructure needed to be “bulletproof”.

The budget for the project was tight and the DistilledODN team had no dedicated operations staff. They wanted a robust infrastructure designed and built rapidly and didn’t want to waste time trying to find and hire a full-time operations employee.

Why AWS?

AWS was the obvious choice for Distilled. The pay-as-you-go economic model for cloud infrastructure works really well for companies trying out new product lines.

Why The Scale Factory?

Distilled choose us because of our experience buiding, operating, and scaling infrastructures. They knew they had tight deadlines to meet, and felt that working with an established team was their least risky option.

The Solution

The original DistilledODN solution ran across multiple regions for high availabililty, using Route53 to provide global load distribution via latency based routing.

The platform terminated TLS requests in a public cluster of HAProxy nodes, originally chosen because of performance concerns with ELB. Traffic was then sent to an autoscaling group of EC2 instances running the ODN platform itself.

An administrative interface ran as a separate application, publishing per-tenant configuration to an ElastiCache Redis cluster in every production region.

We worked together with Distilled’s team to iterate on all aspects of the platform and the application, providing input on application design to ensure high availability and high performance.

Using security features of the AWS platform, configuration changes, and third party security tooling, we were able to ensure that the platform was compliant with PCI-DSS Level 1.

The Results

Distilled went live with their solution just 4 months after our intiial meeting. They had a fast, reliable platform, scaling automatically and on demand. It gave them the foundation to grow fast and work with major multinational companies. We continued to provide support to the Distilled team up until the point they hired a full time DevOps engineer.

Next Steps

Since launch, the Distilled team have iterated heavily on their AWS infrastructure and their product, including a high performance rewrite of their main application components.