Cloud Architecture for Social Media Integration

Business Requirement

When a Fortune 100 merchant bank launched an online promotion on a social media platform, it experienced a sudden demand spike on its in-house resources because of the viral propagation effect. Since the capacity of the infrastructure was planned for steady state consumption, it was unable to adequately handle the spike that was more than ten times larger.

Solution

The resource crunch was just a symptom. The real solution did not lie in fixing just this particular issue. It was going to need a rethinking of the IT strategy for supporting new marketing channels. Associated with these channels, were the viral demand spikes that required extensive infrastructure to handle them efficiently. Provisioning so much infrastructure came at a very high cost with another downside of keeping it unutilized most of the time.

We were tasked to first discover any other similar instances that might have possibly occurred within this company which has a huge online presence. After interacting with the senior management of multiple application portfolios, we were glad to find out that the one already experienced was the only instance. But, there were quite a few other applications that could potentially be affected due to this shift to the new social media channel. Therefore, a thorough review of the entire application portfolio was required in order to understand their individual demand patterns. Since this was going to be a massive endeavor, it was decided to first develop only the overall strategy and the architecture for handling such demand spikes.

This was a classic use case for the on-demand cloud model. Because of the unpredictability of both the timing and the demand magnitude, the only reasonable option was to go for an external/public cloud for the excess demand while the steady-state was supported by the internal infrastructure. This way, there would be no change to the Business-As-Usual, at the same time, readying the infrastructure to manage unpredictability.

As a deliverable, we proposed guidelines for analyzing the demand patterns of all the customer-facing applications and their impacts to the underlying infrastructure. We developed the hybrid cloud architecture for seamlessly scaling to the external/public cloud. We identified events that could act as possible indicators of the upcoming demand spikes and the ways of preempting them. We also recommended close collaboration with business partners to remain current with the marketing plans especially viral marketing ones. Our team comprised of one senior cloud strategist and three overall IT strategists.

Benefits

Social media is going to be the primary channel for marketing in the future. With this strategy work, we laid down the foundation for the its integration within corporate business processes. The guidelines we outlined and the architecture we defined are expected to be used as blueprints for future applications. As a result, time-to-market for any future viral marketing promotions is going to be nearly instantaneous.