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Nanjing Zhima Information Technology Co., Ltd. (hereinafter referred to as "Zhimatech") is a well-known offline big data service company in China. The company is committed to the collection and accurate analysis of offline consumer big data and drives the improvement of business efficiency through data services. MOLLI, the main product line of Zhimatech, is a set of data analysis solutions specifically aimed at improving business efficiency of shopping center, covering customer flow analysis, advertising marketing and other aspects, with a goal to solve the problems of shopping mall traffic and precise advertising for brand customers. Zhimatech has covered more than 100,000 consumption and living places and 700 million mobile devices currently, and processed nearly 10 billion pieces of data per day. Zhimatech provides services for the following customers: P&G, L'ORÉAL, Ochirly, Trendy, K-Boxing, BAIC, Ford, Country Garden, Red Star Macalline, Jing An Kerry Center, Kaisa Commercial, Hongyue City and other well-known enterprises at home and abroad, covering such sectors as mother&baby products, cosmetics, automobile, real estate, fashion, etc.

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Relying on the rich functions and flexible charging mode of AWS, we’ve not only improved the stability, reliability and dynamic capability expansion of the system so as to easily cope with the explosive growth of business, but have also reduced the computing cost by 1/3 and the operation and maintenance cost by 60%.

Feng Huayin

Co-founder & CTO of Zhimatech

Challenges

Zhimatech is a startup company founded in 2013. In order to develop its business rapidly, Zhimatech decided to develop and deploy its products on the cloud platform at the beginning of its establishment. Before migrating to AWS, Zhimatech used the cloud platform of other cloud service providers to build application systems by self-building services on virtual machines. With the rapid development of the business, the disadvantages of this method appear, which are mainly reflected in three aspects: First, both Kafka cluster used for data collection and Hadoop cluster used for data analysis need to be established by itself and equipped with special operation and maintenance teams, resulting in relatively high learning cost and O&M cost in the early stage; Second, the system architecture endures inconvenience in dynamic expansion, and in order to meet the peak demand, resources must be allocated at a high level, which results in a huge waste of resources, in the most serious cases, leaving 2/3 of the computing resources idle; Third, in order to improve the stability and reliability of the system, it is necessary to design high availability and high performance infrastructure schemes for many basic services, which significantly increases the complexity of the system and makes it difficult to guarantee the stability of the system. "Zhimatech is a start-up company. In order to meet the constantly changing market demands, we want to focus human resources on the iterative development of applications, rather than spending plenty of time and energy on the operation and maintenance of IT infrastructure, ” said Feng Huayin, co-founder & CTO of Zhimatech. In September, 2016, Zhimatech joined "AWS Activate", obtained free start-up cloud resources, technical training and support services, and started to familiarize with and understand AWS Cloud services. After nearly one year's trial, Zhimatech began to migrate its entire application system to AWS at the end of 2017. With the help of AWS's rich PaaS services, it not only significantly reduced the investment of manpower in infrastructure, but also greatly improved the system's stability, reliability and dynamic capacity expansion , and promoted the rapid growth of the business.

Why AWS?

As a startup company, Zhimatech aims to achieve rapid product iteration, ensure that the application system is stable and reliable and has excellent dynamic expansion capability, and also significantly saves costs. Based on this goal, Zhimatech compared the mainstream cloud service providers in the market. Finally, AWS has become the best choice for Zhimatech for its rich products and services, flexible charging methods and perfect security mechanisms.

  • Rich products and services
  • Flexible charging mode
  • Sophisticated security mechanism
  • Rich products and services
  • AWS provides a wealth of products and services, covering computing, storage, database, migration, network and content distribution, mobile services, analysis, management, security and other aspects of user needs. These products and services not only significantly simplify the development of the application system, but also ensure the its stability and reliability. After Zhimatech migrates to AWS, it upgraded the structure of its previous application system, replaced the original Kafka cluster with Amazon Kinesis, and used Amazon EMR to replace the self-established Hadoop cluster, and rely on Kinesis to complete the real-time aggregation of data, which can continuously capture and store TB level data from tens of thousands of sources (such as website clickstreams, financial transaction, social media source, location tracking event, etc.) every hour, and transmit the data to the subsequent Amazon EMR big data processing system for analysis and processing. In this process, the real-time data entering the system are stored in Kinesis before processing, ensuring the durability and elasticity of the entire system. "The rich hosting services on AWS enable our developers to focus on innovation and development of core business systems instead of the maintenance of infrastructure, ” said Feng Huayin. 

  • Flexible charging mode
  • Reducing costs is crucial for all startup companies. In respect of the cloud resources deployment, AWS provides three charging modes for users to select, including reserved instance, on-demand instance and bidding instance. Different types of instances vary greatly in price. Users can select according to their actual application requirements. AWS also uses various monitoring and management tools to adjust at any time in an automated manner, thus reducing costs as much as possible on the premise of ensuring system reliability and stability. For example, in the MOLLI system of Zhimatech, a large number of data analysis does not need to be carried out in real time, so multiple bidding instances can be started temporarily to complete the processing task quickly during centralized processing of big data. "As Zhimatech's business is developing rapidly, it is difficult for us to estimate the required computing resources months in advance, so the mode of purchasing cloud resources by year is not suitable for us, ” said Feng Huayin.

  • Sophisticated security mechanism
  • Zhimatech provides services for enterprise customers. Therefore the security of system and data must be fully guaranteed. The architectural design, security management and rich security service functions of AWS provide users with security assurance at the infrastructure level. Users only need to be responsible for the security of their application system itself. In addition, AWS's professional Premium Support, high brand awareness and rich cloud service operation experiences are also the reasons why Zhimatech chose AWS.

     

Achievements

Zhimatech joined AWS Activate for startup companies in 2016 and tried out most AWS Cloud services. Based on its own business needs, it focused on assessing Amazon EMR, Kinesis, Amazon Relational Database Service (Amazon RDS) and other services. Then the entire system was migrated to AWS from August 2017. After a series of processes such as migration assessment, architectural design, migration planning, trial operation and system switching, the entire system has been successfully migrated and upgraded. Applications using AWS Cloud services includeAmazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2), AWS Auto Scaling, Elastic Load Balancing, Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3), Amazon Glacier, Kinesis, Amazon EMR, Amazon RDS, Amazon CloudWatch, Amazon Redshift, AWS Lambda, etc. Figure 1 is an architectural schematic diagram showing Zhimatech using AWS Cloud service.

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Figure 1 Architectural Schematic Diagram Showing Zhimatech Using AWS Cloud Service

Migrating the entire application system to AWS benefits Zhimatech in many aspects.

First of all, it greatly reduces the cost of using computing resources and the O&M cost. Zhimatech combines the unique on-demand, reserved and EC2 Spot Instances of AWS with its own business characteristics, and obtains ultra-high price/performance ratio by combining different types of instances. Only take big data processing in the back-end using Amazon EMR as an example, due to the adoption of Amazon EC2 Spot Instances and AWS Auto Scaling, the computing cost is reduced to half of that of the previous self-established Hadoop cluster on the premise of fully meeting the business's requirements for computing performance. Also, with AWS Auto Scaling, ELB and other services, the application system only adds instances as needed. And once the processing is completed, the instances can be released immediately, which reduces the total cost of computing resources by 1/3. In terms of operation and maintenance, by using PaaS services on AWS, the investment of O&M personnel is reduced, from 5 to 2, saving manpower cost by 60%.

Secondly, the time for development, testing and deployment of the system is shortened, and the iteration cycle of the project is shortened from the previous 4 months to the current 2 months. The performance of the system has also been greatly improved. MOLLI system uses a large number of hosted services from AWS. And the high availability of components is guaranteed by AWS, which reduces the complexity of self-design. The durability of data storage, the elasticity and security of the system are fully guaranteed. "More importantly, the use of AWS improves the stability and dynamic capacity expansion of the system, enabling us to easily cope with the explosive growth of business, ” said Feng Huayin.
 

More Information

For more information about how AWS provides solutions for digital marketing business, please visit the Digital Marketing page for more details.