Atomx delivers online advertising ecosystem with GCP

Founded in 2015, Atomx aims to create a global online ecosystem for the advertising industry. The business provides a platform and service that enables advertising agencies, networks, supply-side platform providers and demand side platform providers to buy and sell advertising space in real-time. Headquartered in Malaysia, Atomx administers, upgrades and adds new features to the platform to make advertising campaigns easy to run, modify and analyse.

Delivering campaign reports in real-time is a key competitive differentiator for Atomx. “Many platforms only make reports available two or three hours after a campaign is run,” says Niek van der Maas, Co-founder, Atomx. “Our platform provides real-time reporting so clients can view progress and make adjustments - such as excluding specific traffic sources or fine-tuning bidding strategies - quickly to optimise campaign performance.”

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Atomx operates on the OpenRTB standard certified by the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) that aims to streamline communication between buyers and sellers.

“Our platform needs to be reliable and fast to meet the needs of our clients,” says van der Maas. “We have a lot of people logging in daily and we need to provide a high quality experience each time to maintain their confidence that they have chosen the right platform to buy and sell advertising.”

Atomx started by running its platform on dedicated servers in a hosted environment. However, as the platform attracted more clients and consequently more traffic, the business had to order new servers. These servers would take a few days to arrive, be installed and configured, slowing the addition of capacity to support new business. Yet it took a hardware failure that rendered the hard disk on one of Atomx’ most critical servers unreadable for the business to move away from a physical infrastructure. “Even our backup was crippled, so we experienced some data loss,” says van der Maas. “At that point, we considered cloud services.”

Around the same time, a third party invested in Atomx, with part of the allocation comprising credits on Google Cloud. This enabled the business to test the performance and capabilities of Google products. “We tested other cloud services and found Google was the most functional, easiest to use and had the best latency results,” van der Maas says. “We could set up virtual machine instances very quickly while all the Google Cloud Platform (GCP) products connected seamlessly with each other.

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“Products such as Google Cloud Storage and Google Cloud Load Balancing worked immediately, while authentication is incorporated in virtual machines instances rather than requiring separate setup.”

Atomx completed its migration within two weeks and was up and running on GCP in Europe and the United States east coast in January 2016. Traffic is load-balanced before being directed to Google Compute Engine virtual machine instances and registered in a Google Cloud SQL database before being sent to Cloud Storage. Other instances run software that undertakes tasks such as providing API access, data logging & reporting, and budget monitoring. The Atomx platform is now running seamlessly on GCP and on 3 July 2017 was supporting 35,000 impressions per second, 17,145 live campaigns and 422 customers. The platform handles 1.4 billion ad requests, stores 265GB of data and logs 860 million impressions per day.

“Fast turnaround times and seamless scalability are the top benefits we’ve achieved from GCP, closely followed by high availability,” says van der Maas. “Now we’re a certain size, clients really depend on us to be online nearly 100 percent of the time and GCP enables us to deliver that.” Had Atomx retained a physical infrastructure when reaching its current size, it would have had to run two or three times its current number of machines and distribute them across various locations to maintain redundancy.

Rather than wait days for physical machines, Atomx can create new virtual machine instances in minutes to support increases in traffic from new or existing clients. New clients can be onboarded in just two days including all the associated administration. Atomx has also improved its reputation within the market following the downtime and data loss experienced due to the hard disk corruption. “A number of clients were quite concerned at that point, but telling them we’d moved to Google Cloud where the platform was more redundant, reliable and available made it easy to allay those concerns,” says van der Maas.

Resources focused on development

Deploying GCP has also enabled Atomx to focus its technology resources on development rather than administration. The business eliminated the post of system administrator and saved itself the cost of one full time employee. “We definitely spend a lot less time managing our infrastructure and Google Stackdriver provides monitoring, logging and diagnostics that ensure our applications are running smoothly,” says Erik Dubbelboer, CTO of Atomx. “We only receive alerts when things go wrong.”

Running on GCP in the United States east coast and in Europe has enabled Atomx to operate close to most of its customers and help to meet demanding latency requirements. “Our latency to the load balancer is less than 20 milliseconds worldwide, while our latency internally is less than three milliseconds,” says Dubbelboer. “This helps us take advantage of OpenRTB to provide a fast, responsive service to clients.”

‘Not afraid’ to grow quickly

GCP has also transformed Atomx’ view of growth. “We are less afraid to grow quickly,” says Dubbelboer. “For example, if a client asks whether they can send more traffic our way, we can simply say ‘yes, sure’ and plug a new virtual machine instance into our load balancer. Furthermore, the account team has proactively helped us optimise our use of GCP and provided sound technical support as and when required."

Atomx is now poised to grow with GCP as a valuable contributor to its business. “We can tell our clients that we use Google Cloud and this helps us secure our credibility in the market,” says Dubbelboer. “This gives us a sound platform to realise our goal of creating an online advertising ecosystem.”

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