Beyond AWS: Tips for startups outgrowing commodity public cloud

December 10, 2015

This is a contributed piece by Engin Akyol, CTO of Distil Networks

Soon after founding Distil Networks in 2012, we began to grow quickly. With malicious website traffic posing a constant threat to web-oriented businesses, demand was high for a technology like ours that could protect organizations from threats like malicious bots, web and screen scraping, spam, click fraud, and brute force attacks.

As a startup, we initially relied on the convenience and agility of commodity public cloud services to support our business, but as we grew, we ran into some unexpected challenges with that approach fairly quickly. This might seem surprising, considering the widespread perception that public cloud is a magic bullet, but these obstacles are actually pretty common – especially for companies like ours that need to easily scale their environment while ensuring consistently high performance for their applications.

This is a look at the obstacles we faced, how we overcame them, and considerations for other startups as they evolve and potentially outgrow public cloud environments.

Growing up fast

The popularity of our bot detection and mitigation services is based on the ability to monitor Web requests and build a digital fingerprint of every incoming connection, identifying and blocking bots across all of the other websites protected by the platform. Over the last year, we raised $21 million in series B funding and quadrupled our business, serving Fortune 500 and Alexa Global 10,000 customers like CrunchBase, easyJet, Glassdoor, Orbitz, Staples, StubHub, Wayfair and Yelp. But it was this rapid expansion of our customer base and service portfolio that ultimately forced us to confront the limitations of the Amazon Web Services (AWS) public cloud services we were using and pushed us to consider IaaS alternatives that were more finely tuned to our specific and evolving needs.

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