Trader Interactive

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Trader Interactive is the leading provider of digital offerings including online advertising and marketing services products serving the powersports, recreational vehicle, commercial truck and equipment segments. Some of their brands include CycleTrader.com, RVTrader.com, RV Web Services, Commercial Web Services, CommercialTruckTrader.com and EquipmentTrader.com. Collectively, they reach over 7 million monthly unique visitors through our online marketplaces, power thousands of dealer websites, and offer unique tools to assist dealers in more effectively running their businesses and serving their customers.

CHALLENGE

Trader Interactive engaged with Relus Cloud to architect a Cloud and DevOps strategy to better suit their client needs and advance their cloud practices.  At the time, Trader Interactive was still employing hybrid infrastructure utilizing an on-prem data center and a POC AWS environment. With an approaching deadline to cutover entirely to AWS, and the management of infrastructure becoming cumbersome, Trader Interactive needed some direction and additional resourcing to bring them over the hump.  Furthermore, the segregation and security of their client data and services were also a large part of their concerns moving onto the cloud.

Trader Interactive was primarily built on a PHP and .NET codebase which required windows and linux environments.  This presented its own challenges in regard to repeatable deployments and infrastructure automation. The applications mostly utilized MongoDB backends.  They desired to be a more reliable and performant service provider for their clients across the board.

OPPORTUNITY

Trader Interactive agreed that the Relus Cloud team brought the relevant skills and experience desired to provide insight and resources for a successful AWS and DevOps implementation. The Relus Cloud team supported the engagement with a Cloud architect, a Cloud engineer, a DevOps architect, a DevOps engineer, and a Project Manager. With input and feedback from the Trader Interactive teams, the Relus team delivered high level and detailed level designs for AWS architecture and a DevOps strategy.  This consisted of an organized and secure AWS account strategy, VPC, and Infrastructure architecture that leveraged AWS services such as ElastiCache, S3, and SQS to reduce overhead and simplify their workflows. It also provided the opportunity to show the benefits of infrastructure as code and automated pipelines in AWS. Relus helped to identify potential security holes and educate the organization on AWS best practices.

SOLUTION

Relus enstated a Multi-Account strategy consisting of several VPC’s for segregated development and production client environments.  Shared services were placed into their own account and VPC’s configured with peering as necessary to reduce the AWS footprint while maintaining security.  This allowed Trader Interactive’s client services to operate within the confines of their own secure environments. Several on-prem practices such as File servers and FTP servers used by both the PHP and .NET applications were replaced with relevant AWS services EFS and S3.  Application caching and messaging were moved to Elasticache and SQS respectively. This both simplified what the operations team supported and the application architecture.

EC2, ELB, and Autoscale groups across availability zones were used to add resiliency and balance load for all application services.  Trader Interactive assisted in testing and providing input for instance sizing and scaling policies. Environments were locked down utilizing security groups and IAM roles to only allow access to required AWS services and applications.  The MongoDB clusters were provisioned in a similar fashion for high availability and cost savings. The databases and applications were launched in their respective restricted subnets to protect against network intrusion.

The on-prem dependency for Active Directory in the application service was replaced with local accounts to allow quicker instance readiness times on windows machines and reduce infrastructure  overhead. SSL termination was moved from IIS and Apache to the Elastic Load Balancer in order to eliminate client side authentication. The .NET application consisted of a web application and a windows service, these were moved to their own instances to allow separate deployment lifecycles.  IIS configuration, Windows .NET framework installation, and other .NET/Windows dependencies were added to Chef Cookbooks that are executed upon initial instance provisioning and application deployments. Static content and images previously hosted in IIS and file servers were relocated to hosted S3 buckets.  All infrastructure and software installation on the environments are managed through a combination of Terraform, Chef, and SSM in a Jenkins Pipeline. Windows and Linux patch management are now being done through SSM.

Finally, Relus configured CloudTrail and CloudWatch to enable logging and resource monitoring on the environment, so that Trader Interactive would be notified of any unwanted access attempts and/or impacts to environment performance.

Services leveraged:

  • VPC & VPC Peering

  • Direct Connect

  • EC2

  • S3

  • SQS

  • CloudTrail

  • CloudWatch

  • SSM

  • Route53

  • Elasticache

  • EFS

BENEFITS

Trader Interactive recognized several benefits following the successful implementation of Relus’s AWS and DevOps strategies. Security was paramount to this project. By adhering to AWS best practices for VPC design, IAM permissions, and Security Groups, Relus ensured that only valid employees or contractors would have access to the AWS environments.

Trader Interactive now has the ability to launch their entire infrastructure and application deployments with the push of a button.  Their environments are repeatable and auditable. Scalability was another key benefit. With Scaling Policies and Infrastructure automation, Trader Interactive can roll out new environments at will for new clients without hassle.

By enabling CloudTrail, Trader Interactive can view and audit access logs to ensure that malicious entities are not gaining access to the AWS environment. The final key benefit was cost efficiency. AWS services are pay-as-you-go, so Trader Interactive does not have to guess future capacity and over-provision services.