Openrice revs up eatery search on cloud

Openrice Hong Kong website homepage Openrice, a homegrown food directory that represents the first stop for many lunch or dinner goers, has adopted public cloud solutions to ensure the resiliency of its giant restaurant search engine.

Openrice runs its business on a powerful restaurant search engine, a voluminous database of 2.5 million food reviews, and an image database that has been supported by close to 10 million uploads.

Primarily using Openrice as a restaurant search engine, visitors typically swarm to the web portal around lunch and dinner times in a short 2.5 hours a day, with web traffic spikes further during the holiday seasons.

Catering huge web traffic

Founded more than 10 year ago, Openrice has been actively expanding in terms of geographical reach and web traffic.

In the past few years, Openrice has expanded into Macau, mainland China, Taiwan, as well as a number of South East Asian countries including Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, and the Philippines. Most recently, it started to expand into Japan.

Given its broad coverage in the region, Openrice serves a huge number of web traffic coming from both web and mobile channels. Each month, Openrice serves over 9.6 million monthly unique visitors from the entire region, with 5.6 million of them coming from Hong Kong. In additional, it recorded 9 million page views from the entire region, with Hong Kong contributing to 82-85% of the page views.

Powering search

To cater to its expanding geographical reach and huge web traffic, Openrice needed to find a technology partner that could support its search engine in Hong Kong and other markets in the region.

Three years ago, Openrice partnered with Microsoft to run its search engine on Azure, serving its main market in Hong Kong, as well as other countries in South East Asia.

Before engaging with Microsoft, Openrice had considered to use Amazon Web Services.

“AWS has good exposure in terms of cloud. They were quite sophisticated on its IaaS and PaaS layers. They also have very good storage solutions, and very unique SaaS,” said Joe Yau, chief operating and technology officer at Openrice.

“As for Microsoft Azure, it has some locations that our companies want to expand into: Singapore, Macau, Thailand, Taiwan and Japan. For all these locations, Microsoft has relatively good international connectivity comparing to others,” Yau said. “Although we are expanding into Asian countries, however, Hong Kong is our key foothold.”

“Microsoft Azure has very strong local presence in Hong Kong. Its Hong Kong IAS (Internet access server) is the main hub of all internet activities in Hong Kong, with a sophisticated and reliable local network in Hong Kong,” Yau commented.

50% opex saved

Openrice’s deployment of Microsoft Azure has brought the online business major cost benefits.

“Since deploying Azure, we no longer need our local teams [in SE Asia] to support or local data centers,” Yau said.

“We do longer need to budget for any hardware upgrade and maintenance. In the past, we used to invest in a lot of anti-virus flooding and DDoS softwares. Since the Azure deployment, we have completely removed them from our overseas deployment,” said Yau. “Now we just rely on Microsoft cloud, as their security protocol supports all tenants behind.”