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How Evite Used Cloud Scalability to Match Its Elasticity

Evite CEO discusses how the social planning site made the most of the cloud at the onset of the pandemic and the eventual resurgence of in-person interaction.

Joao-Pierre S. Ruth

September 27, 2021

4 Min Read
MikkoLemola via Adobe Stock

Matching IT resources to fluctuating demand is one of the benefits of the cloud that helped social planning website Evite navigate a path beyond the constraints of the pandemic -- even when working primarily with one cloud provider.

CEO Victor Cho says the initial quarantine restrictions and evolving guidelines on in-person social events had an immediate effect on Evite, which offers online invitation services and electronic cards for different occasions.

In prior years, the company had migrated most of its resources from AWS and Java to the Google Cloud Platform, Cho says, as its main cloud service. Evite uses cloud solutions provider SADA as a go-between for its ongoing use of those cloud resources. “We’re basically sitting full on the Google stack except for our data warehouses, which are sitting on Red Shift at Amazon."

While he says there was no glaring pain point from a business perspective to switch from AWS to Google Cloud, Evite was focused on improving its customer experiences and building mobile apps. “There was a ton of customer-facing change,” Cho says.

Derek Moore, senior director of software engineering with Evite, says the company stuck with Red Hat because the data warehouse team prefers work with a relational database management system, so they can write to SQL. “I don’t think there was a better solution at the time on Google’s side that would be better than Red Shift,” he says.

Evite’s decisions came down to customer-facing improvements over technical priorities, Moore says, and Red Shift met the company’s needs, at least for now.

“At some point in the journey, we probably will move completely into the Google sphere,” Cho says.

Evite is in talks with SADA, Moore says, to pave the way for some of the needed development work to make that possible. “It would make our lives easier because we’d be able to manage all the cloud infrastructure at one point,” he says. “Eventually we are going to move out of that conventional ETL (extract, transfer, load) world, where we’re transferring flat files to Red Shift for loading. We’re going to do that all in Google’s cloud.”

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Cho says using an intermediary cloud solutions provider such as SADA is one of the preferred ways Google has for addressing customer needs. “We were directed to them via Google,” he says. SADA offers a Slack channel, Moore says, to remain connected at any time to address issues that arise.

Though Evite by nature is a web business, cloud scalability is crucial to the elasticity of its operations, Cho says. “We have a big seasonal curve pattern,” he says. “Outside of COVID, we’ll get a big spike in late spring, early summer period with graduations. It’s a huge category for us.” Later in the summer, activity may ebb but typically picks up again for the winter holidays under normal circumstances, Cho says.

Scalability via the cloud was particularly valuable at the onset of the pandemic, he says, when lockdowns forced a halt to many in-person activities. “We never anticipated dropping events 70% or 80%, which happened at the worst point of COVID,” Cho says. “Having a partner like SADA to scale up and down with us was hugely valuable.”

Finding a way forward beyond the pandemic became a key priority for Evite, especially as safety guidelines evolved. “When it first hit, my message to the board was this is an existential threat for a party business that gathers face-to-face,” Cho says. Eventually, customers began to flow back into the system, he says. “It’s a fairly rapid response back to activity.”

Customers got creative about gatherings, Cho says, with virtual events and parade parties, where guests drive by someone’s house without leaving their vehicle. Evite adapted as well, using its cloud resources to launch virtual support in about 30 days, he says.

Cho says he does not worry about vendor lock-in with Evite almost exclusively using Google Cloud now, seeing the arrangement as a decluttering of the tech team’s energy. That allows the staff to focus on customer experience, he says.

As summer 2021 wound down, Cho says Evite saw an increase in event categories as customers planned more events for the coming months. “It was clear there was all this pent-up social demand,” he says. The company has also shifted to reduce the ads on its website with more revenue tied to consumer-centric revenue flows, Cho says. Evite plans to continue its technology focus, he says, as business momentum builds anew. “We’ll be making big investments in data as we move out of that ad world and more into a consumer-centric world."

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About the Author(s)

Joao-Pierre S. Ruth

Senior Editor

Joao-Pierre S. Ruth covers tech policy, including ethics, privacy, legislation, and risk; fintech; code strategy; and cloud & edge computing for InformationWeek. He has been a journalist for more than 25 years, reporting on business and technology first in New Jersey, then covering the New York tech startup community, and later as a freelancer for such outlets as TheStreet, Investopedia, and Street Fight. Follow him on Twitter: @jpruth.


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