Easier Scaling in the Cloud: An Interview with Ryan Carey

DataXu software engineer Ryan Carey sits down to explain how moving his company’s dev/test environments to the cloud enabled his company to scale at the speed they needed by using on-demand resources.

Noel Wurst: Hello. My name is Noel Wurst. I am with Skytap. Today I am sitting here with Ryan Carey from DataXu. DataXu is a client of Skytap’s, and I was interested in sitting down with him today to learn a little bit more about what they do and how they decided to go about embracing the cloud and what the cloud has enabled them to do as far as growing as a company. Ryan, how are you today?

Ryan Carey: Good.

Noel Wurst: Thanks for sitting down with us.

Ryan Carey: Sure.

Noel Wurst: I guess to start off with what does DataXu do and what are you all creating? What are you working on these days?

Ryan Carey: We work in the marketing space. We place ads for our customers for online video and mobile ads. The unique feature of our platform is we use machine learning to learn as the campaigns move on to figure out which ads or people respond to which ads and then retarget the campaigns to those groups.

Noel Wurst: How long ago did you guys really start to embrace the cloud?

Ryan Carey: It’s really just been the last year that we’ve started moving things into the cloud.

Noel Wurst: What led you to make that decision? Was there any specific pain points or was it just seeing the trends from other companies? What led to that?

Ryan Carey: It’s mostly scaling. We can’t grow our platform as a hosted solution fast enough. That’s what we really were looking for was the ability to grow quickly in the cloud and to have the resources we need when we need them.

Noel Wurst: How did you go about once you started making that shift in regards to enterprise development as far as deciding what to move, what to leave in place where it already was? How did some of those decisions get made?

Ryan Carey: The first decision was made was to start with our dev/test environment. Originally, we had one platform, one scaled-down version of our system that we use for dev and test. It became a real issue of trying to reserve and share the single resource amongst our development team which is now 50 people.

Noel Wurst: Wow. To be able to clone those, duplicate them and disburse those amongst different teams would be a world of difference from just using the single one.

Ryan Carey: Yeah. Someone can now stand up with their own complete stack of our system if they want to for the dev and test.

Noel Wurst: It’s pretty wild once you’ve seen a demo how quickly that can be done. You probably don’t even want to go back and look at how it used to be done and the time it used to take.

Earlier this week, as I’m sure you’re aware, Skytap made the announcement as to the enterprise development or enterprise environments on AWS. Have you guys had a chance to kind of look at that as maybe how that is going to impact your own operations?

Ryan Carey: We’re looking forward to that. We decided on Skytap for our tests dev, but we were looking at AWS for a production system. That’s very helpful. We are moving parts and have one portion of our system in AWS already. This will be very helpful for us so that we can test it using our existing testing framework on Skytap.

Noel Wurst: That’s the goal! I guess just to wrap things up here at the conference a lot of people are already in the cloud. They’re looking to see what else they can do, what other options there are but there are a lot of people here who maybe haven’t yet made that jump, haven’t yet started to switch things over. Whether it’s security issues or cost they’re looking at—that kind of thing. I know a lot of decisions go into making that jump. Do you have any advice as far as when you look back at maybe some of the things that not held you back but some of the things that you all really had to make a decision about? Any advice for those who have not made that jump yet?

Ryan Carey: Yes. One thing that we did is we started automating our DevOps process so that rather than saving off an AMI or a template of our configuration we used Git and wrote a series of steps in a tool called Ansible, so that this had two advantages after we’d done it. One is, it was very easy to then change platforms. We could modify our files just to do Skytap or AWS or whatever else we needed. The other advantage is that it was under source control. We could look at a version of our platform rather than trying to guess or trying to figure out what someone had done previously because everything’s now under source control.

Noel Wurst: Great. That’s fantastic. Good luck to you in the future. I hope the cloud continues to help you guys grow. It’s helping a lot of people grow. Thanks much for sitting down with us today.

Ryan Carey: Thank you.

Join our email list for news, product updates, and more.