Purchasing a used car is risky business. Buyers without specialist automobile knowledge may not realize or notice if a vehicle has major issues until after it’s purchased. Once the vehicle leaves the parking lot, there might be no turning back.
Carro Group is dedicated to changing all that. Founded in 2015 and headquartered in Singapore, Carro is Southeast Asia’s largest marketplace for pre-owned cars. It offers a three-day return policy, and all its vehicles undergo a 150-point inspection before sale, which assures the buyer that the purchased vehicle is in good working condition and defect-free. Unlike traditional auto exchanges, Carro offers a full-stack service for all aspects of car ownership.
“When a customer buys a car from us, that’s just the beginning of the journey,” says Kelvin Chng, co-founder of Carro Group. Customers buying a car from Carro can utilize the company’s workshops for servicing, repairs, and refurbishments. Usage-based insurance and same-day financing are also available in Singapore, Carro’s home market.
“Working with Cloud Comrade and AMS has allowed us to move into higher value-added business functions while driving our core operations.”
Co-founder, Carro Group
Carro has been growing rapidly, doubling, to even tripling, its customer base year on year. Part of its successful growth is attributed to a series of mergers and acquisitions, which has fueled expansion into Thailand, Indonesia, and Malaysia. In 2019, Carro acquired Jualo, an Indonesian used-car marketplace that was running on premises managed by a local provider.
The Jualo site experiences high levels of traffic that accommodates up to 2 million unique visitors per day. In terms of traffic and organic views, this is by far the largest asset within the company. Carro required a dedicated DevOps and maintenance team to manage the Jualo backend, in addition to senior engineering support from its existing team. This presented a problem, as it has a lean DevOps team that makes up just 5 per cent of the group’s total headcount of 535 employees.
Hiring more people for the task also proved to be challenging for the business. “We’re seeing increased hiring competition from companies entering Southeast Asia, so acquiring the right talent for the right skills sets has been extremely difficult,” Chng explains. Since its launch, Carro has relied on Amazon Web Services (AWS) for scalable infrastructure solutions. In consulting with AWS, Carro realized it could use AWS Managed Services (AMS) to “offload the Ops portion of DevOps,” allowing its engineers to focus on development. Carro began working with Cloud Comrade, an AWS Premier Consulting Partner, to migrate Jualo to AWS.
Infrastructure modernization and improved availability were top goals for the migration. The Jualo site had sporadic periods of downtime, with availability levels around 98 percent—falling short of Carro’s internal service level agreement (SLA) of 99.99 percent or higher. Since migrating 40 Jualo servers to AMS with Cloud Comrade’s support, its availability levels have increased to meet SLAs. Chng projects Jualo will continue to average 99.99 percent uptime even when traffic to the site increases.
With Cloud Comrade managing AMS on its behalf, Carro has benefited from enterprise-grade services with high levels of security and compliance. “The Cloud Comrade team makes pragmatic recommendations based on a deep understanding of our operations and infrastructure,” Chng says. During migration, Cloud Comrade was instrumental in establishing security and identity parameters for the Jualo site according to the AMS step-by-step processes.
The Jualo site now has a granular level of segregation between accounts and a separate federation account, per the recommendation of Cloud Comrade, to ensure that user access is rigorously controlled. Federated access is a layer of security Carro has not yet implemented on its websites in other regions, and it was particularly important for Jualo due to its user activity levels.
“We would not have been able to achieve such a tight, high degree of protection without hiring at least one in-house security expert,” Chng says. “The migration gave us some quick wins in terms of setting up a robust security foundation that we can use going forward, even for the rest of Carro Group.”
Because it’s using AMS, Carro has 24/7 access to AWS Enterprise Support, with two AWS Certified Solutions Architects dedicated to deploying and optimizing its infrastructure. The depth of these architects’ knowledge across industries and markets has proven invaluable for a company with ambitious expansion plans such as Carro.
For example, cost optimization sessions with AWS Certified Solutions Architects have helped Carro reduce its Jualo infrastructure costs by 50 percent since the migration. Savings have come from right-sizing compute and database instances to match actual workloads, utilizing more Amazon Elastic Cloud Compute (Amazon EC2) Reserved Instances, and subscribing to Savings Plans.
Cost control is particularly important for Carro, a startup that believes in sensible scaling. Its founders have emphasized the importance of driving returns for its investors since day one, even as the company experiences hypergrowth. “With AMS, we don’t have to conduct cost optimization exercises within the engineering team. AMS offers its global expertise to speed up that optimization process, so our engineers aren’t bogged down,” Chng says.
By encouraging engineers to focus on innovative development work rather than on cost optimization, Carro hopes to stand out in the market for talent. “We need to make sure our innovation landscape and backend are running on enterprise-grade infrastructure. Working with Cloud Comrade and AMS has allowed us to move into higher value-added business functions, while driving our core operations,” Chng says.
In 2020, Carro’s engineers helped launch a subscription service for car sharing in Singapore and are working on similar service models in other markets. They are also designing a digital lock system for Carro vehicles used in car-sharing schemes and in dealer showrooms.
Carro is actively looking to expand its business into new geographic markets and industry verticals. AMS provides a secure AWS Landing Zone and features that would help the company meet various compliance requirements, such as the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS), as the business expands.
“It’s been a joy to work with AWS and Cloud Comrade, and we are looking at exploring a deeper partnership with them across the entire Carro Group,” Chng concludes.