How Alfresco scaled to billions of documents on AWS
John Newton – Founder and, since 2005, CTO at Alfresco – used his AWS re:Invent presentation to talk about how Alfresco has been scaling to billions of documents and building apps capable of accessing that huge amount of content…all while moving from large data centers to cost-effective management on the Cloud.
Alfresco completely embraced the open-source model and built a collaborative environment that currently supports more than 1800 customers, eleven million users, seven billion documents, and less than 400 employees.
Why is content at scale important?
The initial challenge was to store one billion documents, which was quite an impressive amount of data ten years ago – definitely over the petabyte scale. Today, of course, searching Google for the word “Amazon” will return that many pages, but things were different in 2005. Apparently someone tried configuring one million SharePoint servers back then, but of course that doesn’t work well.
The motivation behind this challenge can be identified in the incredible digital transformation that is driving huge flows of content: Cloud, Mobile, Social Networks, Big Data, etc., creating a whole new range of digital business. ECM (Enterprise Content Management), for instance, is a six billion dollar market.
So what are the main use cases for content at scale?
- enterprise document libraries.
- medical records.
- transaction and logistic records.
- government archives.
- claims processing.
- research and analysis.
- real-time video.
- discovery and litigation.
- loans and policies.
- IoT (Internet of Things).
Given this wide range of use cases, you can see why the numbers have grown so high: users need to search and retrieve documents, sync and share files, manage and archive all kinds of data content like records, images, and media. That’s why we have witnessed a conceptual transition from Content to Data, Files, and then EFSS. And that’s why John Newton admitted that working with such content architectures is a significant big data problem.
Since the main use case that drove Alfresco’s innovation was related to insurance companies, they also jumped on to the new Amazon Aurora database as soon as they could.
What is content at scale?
Content at scale is not just a matter of billion of documents. It also means dealing with a lot of geographically distributed users, who demand a certain level of read/write throughput.
Naturally, concurrency and volume size are serious and constant concerns, and large repositories in particular require both scaling up (clustered servers, databases, indexes, read replicas, etc) and scaling out (sharding, federation, replication, shared nothing, etc).
In the face of these issues, traditional approaches are limited in what they can provide for redundancy, elasticity, agility, geographic distribution, provisioning, and administration.
Why Amazon Aurora?
John decided to move to Amazon Aurora for three main reasons:
- Aurora is highly available (sync/async replication).
- Aurora offers a significantly more efficient use of network I/O.
- Aurora is self-healing and fault-tolerant, with instant crash recovery.
To illustrate the kind of modifications he required to move his system to Aurora, John showed us a blank page: beyond a simple configuration switch, no modification was required.
The Alfresco team also worked on some large scale benchmarking for concurrent loads and access (BM4), involving 1.2 billion documents, 500 simulated concurrent users (with Selenium) during 1 hour of constant load.
The system completed more than 15 million transactions, with a load-rate of 1200/s, 80% DB CPU load in bulk load, and Aurora’s indexes worked efficiently at 3.2TB. There were no size-related bottlenecks and John assured his audience that the very same infrastructure could sustain up to 20 billion documents.
How to Go Serverless Like a Pro
So, no servers? Yeah, I checked and there are definitely no servers. Well...the cloud service providers do need servers to host and run the code, but we don’t have to worry about it. Which operating system to use, how and when to run the instances, the scalability, and all the arch...
AWS Security: Bastion Host, NAT instances and VPC Peering
Effective security requires close control over your data and resources. Bastion hosts, NAT instances, and VPC peering can help you secure your AWS infrastructure. Welcome to part four of my AWS Security overview. In part three, we looked at network security at the subnet level. This ti...
Top 13 Amazon Virtual Private Cloud (VPC) Best Practices
Amazon Virtual Private Cloud (VPC) brings a host of advantages to the table, including static private IP addresses, Elastic Network Interfaces, secure bastion host setup, DHCP options, Advanced Network Access Control, predictable internal IP ranges, VPN connectivity, movement of interna...
Big Changes to the AWS Certification Exams
With AWS re:Invent 2019 just around the corner, we can expect some early announcements to trickle through with upcoming features and services. However, AWS has just announced some big changes to their certification exams. So what’s changing and what’s new? There is a brand NEW ...
New on Cloud Academy: ITIL® 4, Microsoft 365 Tenant, Jenkins, TOGAF® 9.1, and more
At Cloud Academy, we're always striving to make improvements to our training platform. Based on your feedback, we released some new features to help make it easier for you to continue studying. These new features allow you to: Remove content from “Continue Studying” section Disc...
AWS Security Groups: Instance Level Security
Instance security requires that you fully understand AWS security groups, along with patching responsibility, key pairs, and various tenancy options. As a precursor to this post, you should have a thorough understanding of the AWS Shared Responsibility Model before moving onto discussi...
Cloud Migration Risks & Benefits
If you’re like most businesses, you already have at least one workload running in the cloud. However, that doesn’t mean that cloud migration is right for everyone. While cloud environments are generally scalable, reliable, and highly available, those won’t be the only considerations dri...
Real-Time Application Monitoring with Amazon Kinesis
Amazon Kinesis is a real-time data streaming service that makes it easy to collect, process, and analyze data so you can get quick insights and react as fast as possible to new information. With Amazon Kinesis you can ingest real-time data such as application logs, website clickstre...
Google Cloud Functions vs. AWS Lambda: The Fight for Serverless Cloud Domination
Serverless computing: What is it and why is it important? A quick background The general concept of serverless computing was introduced to the market by Amazon Web Services (AWS) around 2014 with the release of AWS Lambda. As we know, cloud computing has made it possible for users to ...
Google Vision vs. Amazon Rekognition: A Vendor-Neutral Comparison
Google Cloud Vision and Amazon Rekognition offer a broad spectrum of solutions, some of which are comparable in terms of functional details, quality, performance, and costs. This post is a fact-based comparative analysis on Google Vision vs. Amazon Rekognition and will focus on the tech...
New on Cloud Academy: CISSP, AWS, Azure, & DevOps Labs, Python for Beginners, and more…
As Hurricane Dorian intensifies, it looks like Floridians across the entire state might have to hunker down for another big one. If you've gone through a hurricane, you know that preparing for one is no joke. You'll need a survival kit with plenty of water, flashlights, batteries, and n...
Amazon Route 53: Why You Should Consider DNS Migration
What Amazon Route 53 brings to the DNS table Amazon Route 53 is a highly available and scalable Domain Name System (DNS) service offered by AWS. It is named by the TCP or UDP port 53, which is where DNS server requests are addressed. Like any DNS service, Route 53 handles domain regist...