To improve scalability and enhance its online reservation services, Agoda implemented Windows Server AppFabric with Windows Communication Foundation. As a result, it has significantly improved its search capacity and has simplified its server infrastructure while improving scalability. With Windows Server AppFabric, the company is offering more innovative search features to customers and looks forward to enhancing other services.Business Needs
Agoda is a rapidly growing online reservation service based in Bangkok, Thailand. The company has more than 500 employees and provides reservations at more than 155,000 hotels worldwide. In addition, the company’s customer base has grown by triple digits annually since 2007.
||With Windows Server AppFabric, we increased our volume at least tenfold. And we are constantly making more changes and optimizations to improve it even further.
Chief Technology Officer
The company’s web servers handle hundreds of thousands of searches each day, pulling together information from both internal sources and external systems at partner companies. In the past, search results were stored in databases, which were purged throughout the day to make room for more information. The company retained search results after the initial request so that customers could sort them, select a hotel, and then return to the page. After the process was complete, the search results were no longer needed. “We wanted to get rid of that search result as soon as possible just to free up resources,” says Joost Doevelaar, Chief Technology Officer at Agoda.
Although databases were necessary for storing permanent records, the company wanted a simplified solution for retaining temporary search data. With a fast-growing customer base, scalability was also a concern. The company stored search information on eight server computers running Microsoft SQL Server 2008 Enterprise data management software. “We can afford to buy more servers, but it’s not a good investment because we don’t want to retain the data,” says Doevelaar. “The customer is usually only interested in it for about 20 minutes, and then the results are outdated.”
Agoda wanted to gain better scalability with minimal investment in server hardware and other infrastructure. In addition, it wanted a flexible solution that it could adapt to the unique demands of its business. “Our company is very dynamic, and we make a lot of changes quickly to enhance our searches,” says Doevelaar. “Every time we wanted to add one data element to a search, we’d have to rebuild our database. It was also imperative to speed the development of our search solutions.”Solution
In February 2010, Agoda began looking at different options, possible enhancements to its database servers. It ultimately chose Windows Server AppFabric, which has a highly scalable, in-memory application cache feature. “As a company, we are very committed to Microsoft,” says Peter Coleman, Senior System Architect at Agoda. “We basically perfected our business with Microsoft technology, and we believed this solution had the capabilities we wanted for memory caching.”
Agoda was already using Windows Server AppFabric to cache data and speed performance for its web servers. The company believed the feature would be a good choice to temporarily store search results, so it designed and tested a solution that went into production in December, 2010. The solution includes web services based on Windows Communication Foundation that provide the business logic for searches.
The company has expanded its search capabilities with the new solution. Before, customers could base searches on a specific city and hotel. Now that search results are stored in a local memory cache, it’s easy for Agoda to develop functionality to search by geographical location, landmarks, regions, and other criteria. After a search is initiated, customers can filter for features like hotel size, amenities, and star rating. In addition to deploying new search features, Agoda wants to take advantage of the solution’s high-availability option. In a high-availability configuration, a secondary copy of each cached data item is created on another server computer. If the primary cache server goes offline, it automatically fails over to the secondary server. As a result, customer service is uninterrupted.Benefits
With Windows Server AppFabric, Agoda has significantly increased scalability, simplified management, and improved its online search services. It expects to bring similar benefits to more projects.Increased Scalability
By implementing this highly scalable solution, the company has gained significantly better performance. “With Windows Server AppFabric, we increased our volume at least tenfold.” says Doevelaar. “And we are constantly making more changes and optimizations to improve it even further.”Simplified Administration
Agoda replaced the eight database servers it used for storing search data with one cache server. Maintenance is easier and less costly, and so is increasing scalability. “With our previous infrastructure, if we wanted 25 percent more capacity, we would have to add more database servers,” says Coleman. “Instead, it’s easier adding servers with Windows Server AppFabric in-memory cache.”Innovative Search Features
The company wanted a solution that could keep up with rapid growth, but it also wanted to be able to offer customers more innovative search features more easily. “The searches are faster, and the technology base with Windows Communication Foundation and Windows Server AppFabric provides more functionality,” says Doevelaar. “The extensibility of our search solution is an important benefit.”Enhanced Services
Agoda is already enhancing its services further with Windows Server AppFabric. For example, it is currently implementing the solution with an extranet that hotels use to update room rates and availability. “Windows Server AppFabric has helped us look at technology differently,” says Doevelaar. “We are looking at ways to improve other parts of the business, and we want to use this exciting new technology in every project.”This case study is for informational purposes only. MICROSOFT MAKES NO WARRANTIES, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, IN THIS SUMMARY.