Cricket Social Graph

Cricclubs relies on FastUp to deploy and operate all their products on the AWS platform. By using FastUp, cricclubs can focus on its core activity of developing great new cricket software products while FastUp designs the devops services, micro-services, databases, global high performance and cost optimization. Cricclubs serves more than 5 million users in more than 56 countries. The cricket social network is a new product aimed at individual players to foster connections and sharing content. Cricclubs expects this social network to be a highly engaging, strategic product for its future business growth.

Architecture Evaluation

FastUp drew on its expertise and customer experience to rapidly develop 3 strong architecture options and pick one in under 6 weeks. This evaluation was highly collaborative and led to a deeper understanding of long term and short term goals for both teams. AWS offers many ways to design a technical solution for any given problem. Choosing the right services, integrating correctly and operating efficiently can make a huge impact on the profitability and speed to market. Watch this accompanying video to learn about this technical evaluation.

Problem Statement

Cricclubs is a great game day utility for cricket players, league owners, coaches and umpires. With the new social network project, Cricclubs wants to offer a deeply satisfying off pitch cricket experience. This brings immense opportunity and technical challenges. Over the years, Cricclubs had invested heavily in its technology platform, and they wanted to leverage it for future applications.

Cricclubs expects all of its 5 million users to eventually build deeply engaging content on their social network. To make the user experience smooth and engaging, the AWS hosted solution must be fast, flexible and always available. Further, the cost of operating this solution must stabilize at some point instead of increasing in direct proportion to usage.

Social Networks require purpose built technology to satisfy user experience requirements while satisfying business requirements at the same time. Further, Cricclubs recognized that there is more than one way to achieve all goals.

Solution: Neo4J Clusters

Neo4J is a robust graph database solution that checked all boxes on the architecture evaluation. FastUp implemented the Neo4J Causal Cluster running on EC2 instances in AWS. In production, FastUp operates a cluster of 3 “core” database nodes with the ability to scale out temporarily when load increases. In non-production environments, Cricclubs has the option to either run a single node non-clustered database or switch to a causal cluster similar to production. In the future, when data scientists and developers wish to access the social graph, the causal cluster can be expanded to include dedicated reader instances. To provide for performance and cost optimization, the FastUp solution is flexible to allow large memory, near disk and high network instances. When such features are not needed, FastUp operators can scale down to use the “T” family of instances instead of “R” or “R.d”.

The following diagram shows high level architecture of the Cricclubs social network architecture.

Cricclubs Social Network

To operate all this in an efficient, automated way, FastUp built custom components to back up databases regularly and to scale out when traffic increased. Cricclubs can request a manual back up and restore via FastUp Support. Backups are stored in S3 with lifecycle policies to retire old backups or move them to glacier. For monitoring, FastUp publishes custom metrics into cloudwatch. Metrics include basic CDM (compute, disk, memory) as well as Neo4j custom metrics. These metrics feed automatic actions in AWS and allow FastUp Support Staff to react to infrastructure issues when automated responses are not enough.

Cricclubs chose to deploy this solution in their own AWS Tenant (AWS Account) thus retaining full control on the solution if they ever needed to do so.

Measuring Success

Cricclubs has gradually released the social network product to customers in the US geographical region. FastUp continues to support cricclubs with day to day operations and enhancements. There have been no incidents and no major changes to initially proposed design. We expect that there will be a few incidents during continuing public rollout and we have remediation plans at the ready. The spring, summer and fall months are the peak periods for cricket in the United States.

The technical architecture has met all performance requirements and is able to scale to high traffic within minutes. Graph traversal is fast and can handle large number of simultaneous reads and writes. Operationally, Cricclubs is able to use neo4j in 3 environments without any operational staff on their team. FastUp manages all data security, disaster recovery and infrastructure changes.

AWS costs for this solution are far lower than alternative managed services or other third party end-to-end solutions.