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Opinion: 2010 AWS Challenge Winner Thinks Success In the Cloud Starts With Architecture

| by Jean-Jacques Dubray Follow 3 Followers on Dec 15, 2010. Estimated reading time: 2 minutes |

Mike Kavis, CTO of the M-Dot Network, and winner of the 2010 Amazon AWS Startup Challenge, shared some of the key elements of his Success and the presentation that won the challenge. Mike is an accomplished SOA and Enterprise Architect, but M-Dot was his first major Cloud project. M-Dot is a high speed transaction network build on a very small budget that achieved leadership status from nothing in two years.

Marketers and technologists were building and deploying innovative solutions to get mobile and web content in the hands of consumers, but there was no standard, secure way to execute at the point-of-sale (POS). POS integrated solutions were expensive, invasive, and often required new hardware or required users to have smart phones thus alienating a majority of consumers.

M-Dot works a little bit like an ATM network: 

[M-Dot is] a standard and secure high speed network with seamless integration at the POS with no additional hardware. Consumers select digital incentives (coupons, web and mobile ads, digital gift cards, etc.) on the web or their mobile device and simply identify themselves at the POS via their loyalty card or mobile phone and automatically receive discounts without ever printing out anything.

His recipe looks relatively simple:

  • Step 1 - Build a business architecture
  • Step 2 - Gather additional requirements
  • Step 3 - Evaluate IaaS vendors
  • Step 4 - Prototype
  • Step 5 - Test scale
  • Step 6 - Build the platform
  • Step 7 - Planning for production
  • Step 8 - Launch

He used the E2AF Framework to build his business architecture. During the prototype stage, they were able to try a large number of permutations at virtually no cost. They were also able to prove scalability to skeptical clients, again at virtually no cost, compared to a data-center based infrastructure:

Sure enough, our transaction network passed with flying colors as we successfully delivered a million concurrent transactions with no errors over 1 hour sustained with an average time of 108ms

Ultimately, they were able to run their entire IT for $1000/month, 2 developers and no DBA.

So what does M-Dot looks like?

  • We do not own a single server
  • We do not have a datacenter
  • We do not have a system administrator (although we will hire one in the future)
  • We do not have a DBA (although we will hire one in the future)
  • We have a fully redundant production environment across multiple zones
  • Our solution is faster than our competitors who have dedicated servers in the stores
  • Our monthly infrastructure bill including redundant prod, stage, and test environments in roughly $2500/month (this is insane!)
  • Our production environment autoscales to meet the demands of fluctuating traffic
  • We have not spent a penny on software licenses
  • We have built a robust enterprise solution on a bootstrap budget

Well, there is probably not much to add, other than "congratulations on an architecture well done !" What do you think?

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