Amazon Kinesis Review

Enables us to respond in real time; great auto-scaling feature


What is our primary use case?

Our primary use case of this solution is as an intricate part of our data pipeline to deal with all of our big data problems. The traffic in our industry is highly volatile. At any given time we could have 10,000 users, and five minutes later it could be 100,000. We need systems fast enough to deal with that elasticity of demand, and the ability to deal with all the big data problems. Volume, velocity, ferocity, things like that. That's where we use the Kinesis platform. They have different iterations of it. The normal Kinesis Stream, is a little bit more manual, but we use that for our legacy technology, and for the more recent ones, we use Kinesis Firehose.

How has it helped my organization?

We dynamically change some of our product offerings based on user interaction. We can respond faster to user behavior, rather than waiting for the data to be at rest. We run some analytics models, and can then react in real time.

What is most valuable?

When it comes to Kinesis Firehose, the most valuable feature is the auto-scaling. It does auto-sharing, auto-correction, things like that and responds dynamically. Secondly, it innately has all the features of our reliable data pipeline, allowing you to store raw documents and transform data on the fly. When data comes into the stream through Firehose, we can see it and analyze every single object, keep the raw objects, carry out some transformations on it in flight, and then put it at rest. It allows us to do some real time analytics using Kinesis Analytics. We do anomaly detection in flight as well. We receive any changes with regards to user patterns and behaviors, in real time because Kinesis allows that.

What needs improvement?

They recently expanded the feature sets, but when we were implementing it, it could only deliver to one platform. I'm not sure where it's at now but multiple platforms would be beneficial. I'd also like to have some ability to do first in, first out queuing. If I put several messages into Firehose, there's no guarantee that everything will be processed in the order it was sent. 

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

We've had no problems with stability and we implemented well over a year ago. 

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

The scalability of this solution is good. We are using it extensively with pretty much every single one of the flows.

How are customer service and technical support?

The technical support could be improved. They tend to send you back to the documentation. 

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

We switched to Kinesis because of the technical complexity of the previous solution. In the previous solution, Ops would write feeds on the SQS queue, and then it required physical machines to connect, pull the data, transform it and write. That required three or four different technologies. Kinesis has removed a lot of technical complexity to the architecture.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup was straightforward. Both the user interface and the programmatic access is very intuitive. And again, it's not difficult, even non-technical people would be able to set it up. It took two people to implement. I was responsible for data architecture and we had a developer to transform the data inside. Deployment took less than an hour. The documentation was very helpful. 

What was our ROI?

We've been able to drop our costs for ingesting data by about 60 to 70%.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We didn't evaluate anything else because no other product offered that type of fast solution at the time. Whatever we looked at added technical complexity to the architecture.

What other advice do I have?

It's important to think about how you are going to fix the end points that connect to your Kinesis files.

I would rate this solution a nine out of 10. 

**Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
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