100% Web-Based Media Buying and Planning.


How an AWS migration and optimization allows a media company to compete and thrive in a last-minute economy.

Everything works until it doesn't. When BluHorn fell victim to their self-designed monolithic architecture hosted with a very unfriendly provider, downtime became a real growing pain. Even worse they didn't know where the issues were originating from.

About BluHorn®

BluHorn® is a media buying solution that was created by media buyers, for media buyers. To easily organize, analyze and communicate media buys for broadcast TV, cable TV, radio, outdoor, print, and digital media.

The Background

BluHorn had a legacy product that was the reincarnation of previous client-server software, old architecture, and very old web technology. Furthermore, a small 2-person internal team was responsible for development, QA, and deployment, making it difficult for them to do any of those effectively.

The Challenges

Not only was BluHorn struggling with product quality and scale, but their roadmap, like many, is customer driven. With loyal customers requesting features and releases at will. Further delaying already hindered development sprints.

BluHorn’s web-based media buying platform had already been validated by their handful of loyal customers, they needed help delivering a product and architecture that could scale with their business ambition and didn’t require outside capital investment.

The Solution

We quickly identified that BluHorn didn’t really know what they didn’t know. Being self-contained inside a monolithic architecture meant it could be a database backup, web traffic, or all of a dozen other issues contributing to their slow performance. So, we began to break this down into microservices, where each element of functionality is a separate service. Because applications are easier to create and maintain when they’re split up into smaller, easily developable functionality modules. Moreover, it allowed us visibility into performance, in general, if a particular microservice uses too much memory or is overloaded, it will only affect the functionality of that particular service.

The Technology

Once the AWS environment was configured we built BluHorn on a custom PHP MVC framework, which powers the backend and stores all of the data on a MySQL Aurora database. The frontend has JQUERY guts which allow us to create a user-friendly Google Sheets like experience for users to buy and analyze their orders.

The entire stack is hosted on Amazon AWS using:

The Product Team Configuration

Due to the focused functionality, microservices allows us to create optimized teams by selecting members based on specific capabilities and product requirements. As well as having a myriad of team configurations we commonly deploy, we drew up a team composed of 2 developers, 1 QA lead, a DevOps architect, and an overall project manager.

The Impact

By leveraging an Agile team with deep knowledge of the AWS cloud environment, BluHorn and SourceFuse continue to push customer requested features in 2-week agile sprints. Shore up security and keep customer information private, protect from outside intrusion, and prevent the overutilization of resources by non-subscribers.

We were able to lower the carrying cost of the entire application 8%/monthly by analyzing and optimizing the code performance and database queries.

Reduced Update Rating from 40 seconds to 3 seconds. BluHorn’s Update Rating is a product feature that calculates an ad buys rating — the demographic, reach and performance. To properly run the algorithm we have to warehouse and interpret dozens of different datasets, some from comScore and Nielsen, to forecast and analyze performance. We were able to reduce the response time by 92%.

  • EC2
  • RDS – Aurora
  • S3
  • CloudFront
  • SNS
  • Kinesis
  • SES


Reduction In Response Time


Reduced Update Rating


TCO Reduction/Monthly


Amazon Web Services Logo (AWS)

Amazon Web Services

AWS Kinesis Logo - A Data Streams application

AWS Kinesis

Amazon SNS (Simple Notification Service)

AWS SES (Simple Email Service)

Amazon S3 (Simple Storage Service)

AWS RDS (Relational Database Service‎)

AWS EC2 (Elastic Compute Cloud)

Amazon CloudFront

“What I really get with SourceFuse is the ability to scale. A large part of my business is being able to personalize and customize my product to the needs of an agency or business purchasing a substantial amount of media. Partnering with SourceFuse has not only allowed me to reduce the operating cost and increase product performance. But given me the ability to spin up additional server, compute, database, and most importantly additional development teams within days, and in some cases hours.”

Wes Benwick -- Vice-President & Software Architect

BluHorn Media Buying & Planning Software