Arena.im is a cloud-based marketing platform for live experiences. Its mission is to empower media companies to take back ownership of their audiences from social networks and grow their communities on their website.

Arena enables publishers, media and broadcasting companies to cover events such as news, sports, finance and tech. Through a powerful AI technology, Arena.im can aggregate, curate and distribute content to any device, anytime, anywhere.

A Demand for Agility, Scale and Visibility

Arena’s product is a real-time content platform. Arena covers live blogging for sports events. As a result, there are many spikes in traffic during events–the Superbowl, for example. Serverless is ideal for this use case because it scales. It also has few downtimes.

Arena chose Amazon Web Services (AWS) in order to gain agility and scale. The Arena team has been using serverless technologies since 2016. They use many AWS services and APIs: AWS Lambda, CloudWatch, DynamoDB, Elasticsearch, Redis, and ElastiCache, in addition to external APIs such as Google, Twitter, Stripe, and more.

The number one issue for Arena was an inability to see what was happening inside its application. Since starting the serverless project, the developers had difficulties obtaining alerts about problems such as timeouts, errors, and exceptions. Trying to optimize Lambda functions and cost of the stack was also very challenging.

They used AWS CloudWatch and tried several other vendors. While helpful, none of them solved complex issues quickly.

Leveraging Epsagon for Observability

Arena was looking for visibility from Epsagon into their distributed serverless application. 

Onboarding and Tracing

“The onboarding was really fast,” said Arena’s CTO, Rodrigo Reis. “By simply deploying Epsagon’s CloudFormation template, we immediately saw functions timing out that we didn’t know about, or other failing functions that we weren’t aware of.”

“The tracing library was installed very quickly,” said Rodrigo. “We saw graphs and diagrams right away. The team doesn’t want to spend time drawing these diagrams manually. It also takes time to keep them updated. Epsagon’s automated distribution really helped.”

“Arena developers saw graphs and diagrams right away. The team doesn’t want to spend time drawing these diagrams manually. It also takes time to keep them updated. Epsagon’s automated distribution really helped.”

End-to-end visibility including third-party APIs

Before Epsagon, Arena didn’t have visibility into a complete transaction: for example, API Gateway → Lambda → 3rd party APIs.  Epsagon captures these distributed transactions automatically. The complete view of a business transaction helps to solve problems significantly faster, Rodrigo noted.

“The complete view of a business transaction with Epsagon helps to solve problems significantly faster.”

Besides helping them keep track and troubleshoot their own application, Epsagon also provides visibility into the behavior of vendor APIs such as Stripe, Google, and Twitter. It encourages vendor accountability about the performance of their APIs and how they are affecting customer business.

Arena uses APIs such as Google and Algolia

Monitoring and logging in the same platform

Some solutions report the executions and exceptions of Lambda functions. As a result, every time there was an issue, CTO Rodrigo Reis had to go to the AWS console and check CloudWatch, which was very time-consuming. With Epsagon, Arena can see errors and logs within the same platform, which is “one step less” and saves a  time.

Automated alerts

Previously, using other solutions, Rodrigo’s team had to manually create alerts based on thresholds, but they didn’t know what exact threshold to set. There was much trial and error, consuming valuable time. Epsagon alerts the team about issues they didn’t anticipate automatically, without any manual management, Rodrigo explained. Rodrigo is also using Epsagon’s anomaly detection.

“Epsagon alerts the team about issues they didn’t anticipate automatically, without any manual management.”

Benefiting Developers and Customers

Increased focus

Epsagon’s automated monitoring provides Arena’s team with increased focus and developer velocity. As a CTO, Rodrigo now can easily manage his team and focus more on the business rather than spending time troubleshooting.

Better customer support

Using Trace Search, Arena is able to locate transactions based on a specific customer ID, which helps to solve support tickets quickly.

Major reduction in troubleshooting time

Compared to working with solely the AWS console, Arena is seeing a 60% to 80% reduction in troubleshooting time, allowing the team to focus on business more than ever before, Rodrigo said. 

“Arena is seeing a 60% to 80% reduction in troubleshooting time, allowing the team to focus on business more than ever before.”

Improved cost information and unit economics

Arena’s team has many Lambda functions and each of them is associated with a product. “Before Epsagon, I would lick my finger and point to the sky to estimate my serverless costs,” explained Rodrigo. “It was mostly trial and error: playing around with the maximum duration, the code size, and the Lambda’s configuration. AWS only provides the overall cost.”

Using Epsagon, the CTO now can see the cost of each product. He constantly knows the unit economics for each product and can prioritize the work on each product accordingly. This unit economics tells how much each feature costs, and he can see whether to optimize it or adjust the price. This capability leads to a simple ROI formula for the product.

The unit economics and the increased confidence improves developer velocity and saves time for the team.

“Using Epsagon, the CTO now can see the cost of each product.”

More savings on costs

Epsagon helped the Arena team reduce the AWS Lambda cost in several ways:

  • Based on the cost information, they split high-cost functions into decoupled smaller functions that cost less.
  • They fixed timeouts that cause functions to cost more than they should.
  • They optimized the memory of functions to reduce their costs.

Optimizing  the design pattern

Now that Arena can see the performance of  third-party APIs, they are changing the design pattern to concentrate all third-party requests in a separate function. This capability helps to throttle or queue the requests if needed, so they don’t overwhelm the third-party service.

Growing Arena’s Business

With Epsagon and AWS, Arena was able to restructure its platform for optimized performance and wide-scale automation, significantly improving platform resilience and priming Arena for its next stage of growth.

Epsagon’s solution on AWS helped Arena to ensure site reliability during high traffic events and obtain great customer experience on-demand. Arena’s engineering teams use Epsagon to obtain holistic, second-by-second awareness of visitor behavior and website health.

Further, leveraging Epsagon’s cost monitoring feature, Arena also benefits from ongoing cost savings and the ability to optimize the platform’s structure.

“Arena’s engineering teams use Epsagon to obtain holistic, second-by-second awareness of visitor behavior and website health.”