Introduction

OpenScholar makes it easy for research institutions and their faculty to have professional, research-centric websites, and to bring their ideas to the world. Their product is a SaaS offering of OpenScholar software coupled with end-to-end services: hosting, training, theming & full help desk support.

Cheppers has been about creating something awesome since 2012—whether it’s building websites that perfectly balance aesthetics and functionality or highly available cloud-based services at scale. We strive to understand our clients, and build real, longer lasting partnerships with our team. 

Cheppers is known as a very technical shop numbering over 70 full-time employees working with more than 25 different technologies. 

Initial project status

OpenScholar used a customized AWS web hosting stack for Drupal to host their multi-site SaaS solution. To meet their needs Cheppers embedded a skilled DevOps Engineer within their team to stabilize their current platform, improve performance of their infrastructure, and implement feature/functional enhancements as the client’s technological and business needs continue to evolve.

Key challenges

  • Insufficient in-house AWS expertise
  • Development environments with varying configurations hosted outside of managed infrastructure
  • Improper metrics gathering
  • Insufficient alerting and notifications
  • Unoptimized resource sizing
  • Lack of automation to handle day-to-day tasks

Implementation highlights

  • Migrated development environments to similar ones as production on AWS
  • Implemented CloudWatch log streaming, metrics collection, dashboards, alerts
  • Reconfigured software all around the stack (nginx, Varnish, Apache, php-fpm, etc) and optimized for performance and scalability
  • Optimized resource usage and types for cost effectiveness (EC2, RDS, ElastiCache, etc.)
  • Provided 24/7 support and monitoring for the infrastructure
  • Implemented custom tooling to manage the production infrastructure and development resources

Results

  • Decreased infrastructure costs by 30-40% depending on traffic
  • Reduced downtimes via analyzing and fixing recurring issues
  • Improved service monitoring
  • Significantly reduced response time by infrastructure and software optimizations

Technologies used

  • AWS: CloudFormation, Elastic Beanstalk, Auto Scaling, Load Balancing, RDS Aurora, ElastiCache, Elastic File System, S3, CloudFront, CloudWatch
  • PHP, Ruby
  • Varnish, nginx, Apache httpd, php-fpm