Based in California, CleverTap has a global client base including major corporations such as McDonald’s, Sony, Book My Show, Star, Deals Plus, as well as small and midsize enterprises and startups such as Faasos and Curiosity in India, and DC Comics. Since launching in 2013, the company has gone from five clients to more than 4,000, with about 50 employees worldwide. Real-time processing of 55 billion data events per month helps CleverTap’s clients identify, target, engage, measure, and monetize users across mobile and web. CleverTap’s unique approach—which consolidates analytics and engagement on a single platform along with industry-first features such as live-user segments—is a powerful solution for high-growth businesses who want to design and implement real-time, personalized, and impactful marketing automation strategies that are powered by intelligent insights. More than 10 billion messages are sent out monthly via the CleverTap platform.
Choosing AWS was one of the most strategic decisions made. We can manage 4,000 customers with a very lean DevOps staff.”Anand Jain
CleverTap’s tech-oriented founders recognized that they wanted to launch their business in the cloud to enable rapid innovation and global accessibility. Their focus from day one was on the product. It was important to avoid large capital expenditures and focus resources on initiatives that would increase top-line growth and let the experts handle the infrastructure challenges.
Cofounder Anand Jain was tasked with evaluating cloud providers. In his previous company, he had worked with a team of more than 40 IT engineers who managed the company’s own server infrastructure, and he knew all too well the difficulties that maintaining servers can entail. The CleverTap team was also opposed to engaging in time-intensive negotiation processes with separate providers for servers, load balancers, and firewalls—all of which would delay the launch of their software.
Because CleverTap performs data analytics in real time, it needed fairly large instance sizes to ensure speed and agility. Though the company started small, Jain wanted a provider that could scale with the business, eschewing unnecessary operational oversight. The CleverTap platform, which would run with high I/O, demanded an infrastructure that could scale seamlessly and handle spikes, such as when a majority of India’s population goes online to watch a cricket match, or a major retailer has a holiday promotion.
Finally, security was a pressing concern. CleverTap handles high volumes of personal data and must protect the privacy of all information passing through its servers to retain customers’ trust.
Why Amazon Web Services
When researching potential cloud providers, CleverTap consulted Amazon Web Services’ (AWS) extensive online documentation. Ease of startup and a smooth onboarding process were leading factors in the decision to go with AWS.
“It was such a refreshing experience for me to be able to go to the AWS website, enter my credit card data, and be able to start provisioning servers and putting my code online for the world to see. There’s not a need to request proposals, get multiple quotations, and follow a long onboarding cycle,” Jain says.
CleverTap appreciates the nature of AWS as a one-stop shop and has been adding resources to streamline the company’s operations as it has grown. “Choosing AWS was one of the most strategic decisions we’ve made. We can manage 4,000 customers with a very lean DevOps staff. The system just works and we can focus on what matters the most to our business without having to worry about uptime, security, and scale,” Jain adds. Until very recently, the company was able to manage operations with just a couple of DevOps people, who, along with Jain, served as the main AWS expert.
Within a few months, CleverTap had to not only scale vertically—going from micro Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) instances to memory-intensive types—but also expand horizontally, spreading data across multiple instances. The ability to dynamically scale out on Amazon Elastic Block Store (Amazon EBS) optimized instances is key. CleverTap uses a number of Amazon EBS volumes to process heavy workloads in real time with low latency. It was one of the first adopters of the R4XL instances, and also uses X1 instance types, which offer 2 TB of high-speed RAM.
“AWS gives us peace of mind just knowing infrastructure is solved, so we can focus on other aspects of our business such as sales and marketing. We appreciate how the instances scale for us—it’s fully secure, and there are people we can reach out to if we ever get stuck,” Jain explains. CleverTap has increasingly been working with its dedicated AWS solutions architect to devise a roadmap for growth in the cloud. This year, the company set its sights on expanding in the U.S. market. “By using AWS, I know we can scale very rapidly, which gives us the confidence to go after major U.S. customers,” he says.
One of CleverTap’s most recent customers is India’s largest telecommunications provider. Within a six-month period, the client had acquired 100 million new users, and CleverTap had to grow with the client to accommodate all the new traffic from its apps. “In a matter of seconds, we see a ten-to-twentyfold increase in traffic. There is no way we could have done this without AWS,” Jain says.
New regulations were introduced in India in late 2016 barring certain types of sensitive data from leaving the country. To win over new large accounts in the telco and financial industries, CleverTap had to migrate client data from the EU West region to AWS Asia Pacific (Mumbai) region. Using AWS CloudFormation, the company was able to set up a parallel infrastructure in India in two to three days.
“Our development time has reduced by 30 percent and our customers have access to innovative features sooner because of AWS. This helps them to maintain their competitive advantage. Furthermore, we have realized cost savings of 40 percent by hosting our entire infrastructure on AWS,” Jain says.
Today, CleverTap can process hundreds of million data points in sub-second speeds on a single Amazon EC2 instance. Automating processes on the AWS infrastructure has allowed CleverTap to remain a lean and agile enterprise. Production cycles and deployment are fully automated; every day the system deploys seven to eight times, which is comparable to the scale of much larger companies.