MediaCore’s video platform offers powerful tools for sharing educational content. Universities, Fortune 500 companies, and smaller institutions use their cloud-based service to distribute videos to their audiences. Relying on the cloud for video encoding and streaming to millions of viewers allows MediaCore to scale their business and develop as quickly as they like, but they’ve also learned that monitoring cloud usage is just as vital.
In 2011, MediaCore’s small team had successfully moved their heavy lifting to Amazon’s cloud. Their customer base was growing, and they were ready for takeoff. Usage hovered around a relatively stable one terabyte per month, which allowed CEO Stuart Bowness to maintain the development budget his team needed. They were unfunded, but with a bright future.
A note from Amazon arrived one day. It wasn’t about the latest items for sale, or a shipping notification, or a standard bill for cloud services. It was Amazon saying congratulations to MediaCore for suddenly serving up 80TB in three days. Their usage was skyrocketing, so Amazon wanted to sign them up for the next billing tier, in which data streamed to Japan would cost less than the standard $0.30 per gigabyte.
This is how MediaCore learned they’d been hacked: With a bill for $20,000.
We had what was supposed to fuel the dev team for months in costs.
The team was shocked that Amazon had no other way of alerting them to a sudden, severe spike in usage. MediaCore was a young startup, and even with the payment plan they negotiated with Amazon, the attack was nearly a death blow.
When they examined their logs, they found that the hacker had automated account creation and used MediaCore’s servers to stream video to Japan. It was an exploit that might have been prevented, but
it was sophisticated enough to underscore the need for better, closer monitoring.
MediaCore’s leadership team knew they could not afford another incident. They solved the vulnerability that made the attack possible, but they still needed a way to make sure it wouldn’t happen again.
Cloudability’s monitoring and reporting services offered the necessary peace of mind. With Cloudability tracking each cloud service by account and vendor, MediaCore could get back to business without worrying when or where their usage spiked. Email notifications and the Cloudability dashboard allowed the MediaCore team to quickly assess the efficiency of their cloud spending.
[Months] after signing up with Cloudability, MediaCore received an alert that their Amazon usage was higher than expected. The team investigated, and found that another hacker had signed up for paid accounts and streamed as much as possible from each, again to Japan.
The notification from Cloudability had arrived before things got out of hand. MediaCore immediately disabled the accounts, removed the videos that had been hotlinked around the web, and closed the security hole.
With the information they needed to act fast, MediaCore stopped the bleeding. The overage cost them $1,000, though it could have easily escalated to another near-fatal attack.
Cloudability also provides in-depth, easily legible data that show exactly how well-optimized MediaCore’s cloud infrastructure is. As their business expands, and as their product develops, MediaCore keeps a close eye on Cloudability reports to determine areas of improvement.
Once we dealt with invasions; now we’re dealing with an invasion of customers.
Today, over 300 institutions trust MediaCore to provide the infrastructure to host over 1 million educational videos. Cloudability reports with clear data visualization have given the team some new ideas that could save as much as 50% on cloud spending per month.
In the fast-paced, ever-changing tech startup world, company leaders are always pressed for time. They want to save money, but in a lot of cases, finding ways to save money requires more time than anyone has. Easy access to detailed information about cloud spending is a big help to MediaCore, both in preventing unnecessary overspending when bad things happen, and in highlighting new possibilities.