- MOL Global is one of Southeast Asia’s biggest internet companies. Through its ownership of payment service provider MOL and social network Friendster, MOL Global has one of the region’s largest end-to-end content, distribution, and commerce networks.
- With the RightScale Cloud Management Platform, MOL Global can now duplicate and customize entire server environments and deploy them to developers and online gaming partners in minutes instead of days or weeks.
- MOL Global was able to take advantage of RightScale server management tools to automate and manage Friendster in the cloud, helping the company achieve an 80 percent savings on operations costs when compared to its former on-premise data center model.
- MOL Global engineers were able to focus on core tasks that directly impacted speed to market rather than spending a month or more to develop scripting-level tools for cloud automation.
MOL Global Manages Friendster in the Cloud with RightScale
If you had to move 115 million registered users from your data center to the cloud, would you want to spend your time building automation and management tools?
MOL Global didn’t. Aaron Chipper, CTO of MOL Global, a content distribution and commerce network and the parent company of social network Friendster, had to focus on turning Friendster into Southeast Asia’s biggest social gaming network, not building cloud tools.
RightScale was only one part of our 80 percent cost savings in moving Friendster to the cloud. But it took a large task off our plate – automating and managing our cloud infrastructure – and let us move on to other problems. RightScale has been an enormous part of our operational peace of mind ever since.
Aaron Chipper, CTO, MOL Global
Friendster launched in 2002. By the time MOL Global acquired the company in late 2009, its user base in Asia Pacific had grown tremendously and much of the hardware in its California data center was approaching the end of its useful life. Chipper and his team ran the numbers on the costs for setting up a data center with new hardware and services and became convinced that they could reduce operational expenses by moving Friendster to the cloud. Using Amazon Web Services (AWS) appealed to the MOL Global team because of its Asia-based data centers, which would enable them to better service their users and partners.
But how to manage the AWS servers needed for 115 million customers?
“It’s one thing to migrate from the data center to AWS,” says Chipper, “but once all of our servers and services reside in the cloud, we have to manage them, and building the tools for that is a specialty in itself.
“Also, our internal IT teams and external partners are constantly developing software that they need to test in our production environments. Friendster’s old infrastructure did not readily allow for easy separation or duplication of environments. Since we were going to be in the cloud, we wanted to be able to carve off a duplicate of a large production environment quickly and deploy instances to our partners so they could test on it.”
To solve these challenges and more, AWS pointed Chipper’s team to RightScale for help in managing Friendster servers in the cloud and building out deployments.
The RightScale Solution
It didn’t take long for MOL Global to start seeing big benefits from both moving to the cloud and using RightScale to manage its cloud infrastructure.
Chipper’s team uses RightScale ServerTemplates™ to automate and manage the provisioning of 30 to 100 instances at a time and easily create their own server configurations. ServerTemplates are modularly built from images, scripts, and variable inputs so that MOL Global’s servers are provisioned in context — they automatically register with the correct load balancers and databases, begin backups with the proper frequencies and storage locations, and much more.
The team takes the ServerTemplates and scripts as a point of departure, modify them to suit their needs, and quickly push new servers into production. As the team incorporates other technologies such as MongoDB, Redis, and Chef, they can choose from the wide range of RightScale ServerTemplates available in the RightScale MultiCloud Marketplace to support them.
Friendster runs primarily in the cloud with a few on-premise, business-critical backup services – LDAP, configuration servers, database snapshots – in its data center for disaster recovery. Whether MOL Global moves more of its assets to the cloud or into its own data center in the future, Chipper considers himself well positioned in terms of versatility because RightScale gives him the ability to manage both public and private infrastructure.
“With all of the changes we’ve made in moving from the data center to the cloud and centralizing management with RightScale, we've reduced our operations cost by about 80 percent,” says Chipper. “We also rewrote our stack from the ground up to be completely service oriented and moved to Rails-based services. Those are combined savings, but we couldn't have achieved them without RightScale because server management was one less set of development headaches that we needed to deal with.”
Relieving those headaches allowed Chipper to assign several operations and engineering staff members to core tasks instead of asking them to write and run management tools. Chipper is confident that RightScale pays for itself each month in savings on general costs and operations staff.
Chipper also points to savings achieved on AWS usage by using RightScale scripting to manage his team’s new staging and QA environments. RightScale enables them to schedule cron jobs twice a day to start and stop the environments automatically. MOL Global saves money because servers are running only when necessary – “nobody needs to run QA servers in the middle of the night” – but when the team arrives at work in the morning, the environments are up and running.
Faster Speed to Market
Moving in a hurry was another priority for Chipper: “It would have been a solid month of work for us to write scripts on our own that do what RightScale lets us do. That shaved a few weeks off our implementation schedule, which has been a big part of getting us to market on schedule.”
MOL Global went through the onboarding process and found that the RightScale professional services team also helped the company save time. “They chased us to roll out RightScale,” notes Chipper, “which was refreshing, because I’m accustomed to having to chase the vendor. We received good, helpful advice from the consultants who helped us get moving quickly. The price of training and onboarding was money well spent.”
Happy Internal and External Customers
Chipper’s team has two distinct groups to support: staff developers who just want to write code and need made-to-order environments but don’t have the time to create them, plus an entire community of Friendster game developers and partners who want to test in the same environment that online users will have. The ability to deliver these instances quickly and efficiently is Chipper’s favorite RightScale feature.
“It often happens that an internal engineering team or an online game developer submits a request for their own test environments,” he says. “With RightScale, we can select an entire environment, duplicate it, modify it to suit their requirements, and push it to production in no time. We call them back within about 30 minutes and tell them, ‘All right, it’s up now. Knock yourselves out.’
“That’s more than just a huge business advantage. That’s cool.”