Most large events have common activities such as event registration, check-in upon arrival, and requesting of amenities. When designing applications, factors such as high availability, low latency, reliability, and security must be considered.

In this blog post, we’d like to show how Amazon Web Services (AWS) can assist you in event planning activities. We’ll share an architecture that follows best practices, and one that can be used in developing other solutions.

Serverless to the Rescue

Serverless architecture enables you to focus on your application development without having to worry about managing servers and runtimes. You can quickly build, fix, and add new features to your applications. A microservices-based approach provides you the ability to scale and optimize each component of your event management application.

Let’s start by looking at some activities that an event guest might perform, and how they might be displayed in a mobile application:

  • Event registration: A guest can register either from a website or from a mobile device, see Figure 1. Events might have heavy traffic initially, or a large push toward the end. This requires building applications that are highly scalable.
Figure 1. Event registration

Figure 1. Event registration

  • Check-In: Check-In can be a manual and cumbersome process – some mobile options are shown in Figure 2. Attendees must queue up to register, pick up badges, receive agendas, and collect other meeting materials.
Figure 2. Guest check-in kiosk

Figure 2. Guest check-in kiosk

  • Guest requests: While the event is underway, a participant might request hand-outs or want to purchase food or beverages, see Figure 3.
Figure 3. Guest requests

Figure 3. Guest requests

  • Session notification: At popular events, there are some sessions that fill up quickly. Guests must queue up to get into the session. Figure 4 shows a notification screen.
Figure 4. Session notification on guest device

Figure 4. Session notification on guest device

Solution overview for event planning

The serverless architecture presented here is highly scalable and provides low latency. It follows the Serverless Application Lens of the AWS Well-Architected Framework. This enables you to build secure, high-performing, resilient, and efficient applications.

Frontend user interface using AWS Amplify

The event website is hosted on AWS Amplify. Amplify provides a fully managed service for deploying and hosting applications with built-in CI/CD workflows. An alternative for hosting the event website could be Amazon Simple Storage Service (S3) or even by provisioning Amazon EC2 instances. However, Amplify is well suited for native mobile apps and JavaScript-based web apps.

The event website uses Amazon Cognito for management of user authentication and authorization. Amazon Cognito is a good choice here as it allows federating with external identity providers.

Backend serverless microservices

The backend of the event management application uses Amazon API Gateway and AWS Lambda. They provide the ability to expose API operations. If the application has a flurry of requests coming in together, the backend serverless microservices will scale up or down seamlessly. However, there are service limits, and it is important to keep these in mind while designing your applications.

Amazon DynamoDB is the NoSQL database, which saves the guest registration data and other event-related information. DynamoDB is a good fit here, as it delivers single-digit millisecond performance at any scale and provides high availability, fault tolerance, and automatic capacity scaling.

Amazon Pinpoint is used to send notifications to guests via email and SMS. Amazon Pinpoint allows your app to connect with customers over channels like email, SMS, push, or voice.

Let’s take a closer look at some of the activities we’ve outlined.

Solution architecture – Event registration and check-in

Figure 5. Event registration and check-in

Figure 5. Event registration and check-in

Numbered items following refer to Figure 5:

  1. Developers upload code to AWS CodeCommit
  2. CodeCommit pushes the code to Amplify
  3. Guests access the website via Amazon Route 53
  4. Route 53 resolves incoming requests and forwards them to Amplify
  5. Guest authentication is performed by Amazon Cognito user pools
  6. Amplify sends the REST API requests to API Gateway
  7. API Gateway uses Amazon Cognito user pools as the authorizer
  8. API Gateway proxies the request to Lambda
  9. Lambda stores guest data in DynamoDB
  10. Lambda uses Amazon Pinpoint to notify the guest

The guest registration process begins with loading the web application hosted on Amplify. The application creates the user in the Amazon Cognito user pool and routes the request to API Gateway to complete the registration process. Amazon Cognito integrates with third-party authentication systems such as Google, Facebook, and Amazon. This allows guests to use their existing social media accounts to register.

The guest check-in process consists of loading a web application onto kiosks. Guest information is saved in a DynamoDB table. Upon registration, a QR code is sent to the guests, then scanned upon arrival at a kiosk. Guest information is then retrieved from a DynamoDB table. This allows guests to print their badges and other event materials.

Well-Architected guidance:

  • Enable active tracing with AWS X-Ray to provide distributed tracing capabilities and visual service maps for faster troubleshooting of the backend APIs.
  • For Lambda functions, follow least-privileged access and only allow the access required to perform a given operation.
  • Throttle API operations to enforce access patterns established by the event management application service contract.
  • Set appropriate logging levels and remove unnecessary logging information to optimize log ingestion. Use environment variables to control application logging level.

Solution architecture – Guest requests

Figure 6. Guest requests

Figure 6. Guest requests

Numbered items refer to Figure 6:

  1. Guests access the website via Route 53
  2. Route 53 resolves incoming requests and forwards them to Amplify
  3. Guest authentication is performed by Amazon Cognito user pools
  4. Amplify sends the REST API requests to API Gateway
  5. API Gateway uses Amazon Cognito user pools as the authorizer
  6. API Gateway proxies the request to Lambda
  7. Lambda validates and stores guest data in DynamoDB
  8. Lambda uses Amazon Pinpoint to notify the guest
  9. Amazon DynamoDB Streams are enabled which triggers a Lambda function
  10. Lambda notifies the employees via Amazon Simple Notification Service (SNS) to fulfill the request

Once a guest request is made for session handouts or food or beverages, it is stored in DynamoDB. DynamoDB Streams are enabled, see Figure 7, which captures a time-ordered sequence of item-level modifications in a DynamoDB table. It durably stores the information for up to 24 hours. This generates an event, which triggers a Lambda function. The Lambda function sends an SNS notification via SMS or email to the event employees who can address the guest requests.

Figure 7. Sample DynamoDB Streams record

Figure 7. Sample DynamoDB Streams record

Well-Architected guidance:

  • Standardize application logging across components, and business outcomes
  • Enable caching on API Gateway to improve application performance
  • Use an On-Demand Instance for DynamoDB when traffic is unpredictable, otherwise use provisioned mode when consistent
  • Amazon DynamoDB Accelerator (DAX) can be used as an in-memory cache to improve read performance

Solution architecture – Session notification

Figure 8. Session notification

Figure 8. Session notification

Numbered items refer to Figure 8:

  1. An Amazon EventBridge rule runs on a schedule and invokes a Lambda function
  2. Lambda retrieves guest and session information from DynamoDB
  3. Lambda notifies the guest via Amazon Pinpoint

Amazon Pinpoint can send notifications to registered guests to let them know when to queue up for the session.

Conclusion

This solution provides a powerful approach for deploying highly scalable applications, while providing low latency and low cost. Build a Serverless Web Application can get you started. Large events require a considerable amount of planning and coordination. We hope the guidance provided here will help you build a scalable and a robust event management application.

Categories: Architecture