CreateCtrl rebuilds Cinetixx's existing cinema service system
Cinetixx GmbH has developed and provided a full range of cinema software for more than 300 customers throughout Germany and Switzerland. Due to the company's dynamic development, its existing software was no longer sufficient to meet all its needs, with the lack of scalability being a major concern. In 2019, CreateCtrl AG started to rebuild Cinetixx's existing cinema service system. The goal of the new solution was to integrate the daily operation processes of a cinema. Aspects to consider included multi-channel ticket sales, cashier services and the verification of customers entering the cinema.
The situation until now
Up to this point, Cinetixx has only employed computers running a Windows operating system. The existing Cinetixx Manager software was a typical desktop application requiring direct access to a database. In addition, the entire set of software tools also required computers running a Windows operating system.
On the server side, Cinetixx had a large number of services operating separately that nonetheless all used a common database. After years of development, many of Cinetixx's external partners required individual integration solutions. The lack of a consistent, across-the-board solution to the database problem led to the current, unsatisfactory state of affairs.
At the beginning of the cooperation between Cinetixx and CreateCtrl, the CreateCtrl team went through all the tools and services included in the existing software. There were many different technologies still in use, from native C++ applications to REST and SOAP APIs to various web/mobile applications utilizing different technologies.
Once the problems of the existing software version were understood, CreateCtrl developed and presented a step-by-step plan to migrate most of the services to the Amazon Web Services (AWS) Cloud. In a second phase, all changes were designed in a manner that they could be implemented progressively. This ensured backwards compatibility with all remaining services that were not migrated.
Migration to the AWS Cloud - common services for multiple applications
The first problem the team was confronted with was rebuilding the database access layer used for all services. In its new implementation, this layer should be scalable, secure and, most important of all, have a common, consistent core that would be easy to expand for future services.
The solution we chose was to utilize scalable services that enabled us to issue data for all applications depending on their access level. The implementation was built on a microservices architecture provided by Docker Containers via Amazon Elastic Container Service (ECS). By using the Amazon Gateway API and properly configuring the auto-scaling service of the container structures, we were able to keep the cost of maintaining services low. Secondly, keeping irregular traffic increases in mind, CreateCtrl prioritized sensitive services, giving us 99.9% efficiency in our system, and solving what had been a major issue in the software used to date.
New customer and support applications
Concurrently to developing new services, the team decided to start rebuilding existing applications. Initially, management and administration applications were rebuilt. This approach allowed CreateCtrl to completely adjust the system of roles and permissions to better fit individual services. The new applications were built in selected frontend frameworks and then launched utilizing services such as Amazon Simple Storage (Amazon S3) or Amazon CloudFront. In addition, the Amazon Simple Email Service (SES) has proven to be an ideal tool for reliable email delivery. While the first team developed the abovementioned applications, the second team developed a mobile app that works on the basis of the same scalable services.
Until now, attaining sufficient access time to data had been a major problem. The team analyzed possible scenarios and decided to make several improvements. Thanks to the implementation of asynchronous solutions, service availability has been improved significantly.
The great majority of data can be cached 100% for quite long periods of time. To achieve this, we used the Redis data store provided by AWS to implement the ElastiCache service. In many cases, this reduced access time to static data by more than 100%, allowing for response times below 100ms.
Lambda and S3, CloudFront
In addition to information in database form, Cinetixx also provides a large number of documents and visual resources that require a short access time. Due to the advantages of having several asynchronous Lambda functions, secure access to encrypted Amazon Simple Storage (S3) files and the availability of the Amazon CloudFront content delivery network, loading this type of data doesn't slow down the service. It doesn't block or delay the user from performing subsequent steps and tasks. That way, customers are satisfied and we're happy as well.
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CreateCtrl AG provides innovative software solutions for the media industry since more than 18 years. Broadcast stations such as Sky, Discovery or FOX and license traders like Studio 100 are using our applications for administrating, archiving, scheduling and accounting of licenses and programs.
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