Genealogy company Ancestry migrates entire infrastructure to AWS

Ancestry is a 34-year-old company and is rarely mentioned for its technological prowess, but it deals in data at a massive scale.
Written by Natalie Gagliordi, Contributor

Genealogy service provider Ancestry.com is the latest data-heavy company to migrate its entire infrastructure to Amazon Web Services.

Ancestry is a 34-year-old company and is rarely mentioned for its technological prowess, but it deals in data at a massive scale. Its services rely on artificial intelligence and machine learning to help subscribers uncover connections in millions of family trees and historical records.

On the technology front, Ancestry currently manages about 10 petabytes of structured and unstructured data generated by more than 2.6 million subscribers, including 20 billion historical records detailing births, marriages, deaths, military service, and immigration. On average, more than 75 million searches are handled by Ancestry servers daily.

In recent years, Ancestry has expanded beyond its origins as a repository of digitized ancestral information. Its latest focus is centered around the emerging consumer genomics market, and the company said it now has more than four million DNA profiles in its database.

Until recently, all of Ancestry's data and compute infrastructure ran through a soon-to-be decommissioned data center in Salt Lake City. Ancestry's migration has taken place over the last six months, with its biggest services -- including images, search, and analytics -- moving over first.

On a call with ZDNet, Ancestry's executive vice president of product and technology, Nat Natarajan, said the company has moved 8 petabytes of data and 6 petabytes of images already to Amazon, and is in the process of moving 550 databases and 500 services.

"The amount of data we have is a big requirement for compute on the backend, so our move to cloud is a step towards that," Natarajan said. "We are a big data company and have been one since before the term was coined."

Ancestry's ultimate end-goal with the migration is to improve the performance of its consumer services and create an innovation system based on speed.

"I am really excited to see the pace at which we are moving to the cloud," Natarajan said. "The business is in an amazing growth phase, especially with genomics, and I'm confident that we will innovate quickly because of our move to the cloud."

As for AWS, the cloud juggernaut has a substantial list of what it calls "all-in" customers, including Twilio, Zillow, Netflix, Nordstrom, Splunk, GameStop, Hertz, Intuit, and Juniper Networks, to name a few.

Amazon revealed in its most recent earnings report that the cloud service earned $3.66 billion in revenue, up 43 percent year over year, while its operating income landed in at $890 million -- compared to Amazon's North American ecommerce business, which made $596 million.

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