Sphero’s Heroic Move: How Cloud303 Used the Well-Architected Program to Improve Robotic Company’s AWS Landscape


AWS Solutions Architect

WHEN Sphero approached Amazon Web Services (AWS) last year, its platform was in complete disarray. Once a giant player in the robotic toys space, its stranglehold in the market had waned considerably over the years. Sphero used to boast a massive catalog of products designed for use by people of all ages and demographics, which were used for educational, entertainment, and/or therapeutic purposes. Gradually, its products were removed from the shelves. However, much of the tech infrastructure related to these products remained in the backend of the AWS platform.

“We were crawling through our AWS workload to figure out what we can shut off. Sphero was once a much bigger company, and a ton of stuff got set up,” said Brian Kellner, who had just assumed the role of Sphero Vice President of Engineering, was left scratching his head as he tried to untangle the mess he had inherited. “We were not doing anything else in AWS except keeping stuff running and shutting down things that were not being used.”

Sphero, however, still appreciated the value AWS brought to its business. They were intent on launching several new products on AWS, including a significant YouTube workload. 

“But not before all the obsolete stuff got cleaned up,” Mr. Kellner said.

The predicament sounded all too familiar to the AWS Well-Architected Review team. Having all gone through the mill before, they knew exactly which trusted partner to turn to unravel the mysteries of Sphero’s legacy workloads. 

Cloud303 had already earned a glowing reputation for its ability to provide creative solutions to complex problems. Cloud303 was recognized as an AWS top partner for Well-Architected that year, so the Well-Architected Program team at AWS knew exactly who to call upon to clear the cobwebs of Sphero’s architecture.

During the WAR sessions with Sphero, Cloud303’s certified AWS Professional Solutions Architects reviewed the design and implementation of Sphero’s system in terms of a set of best practices known as the "Well-Architected Framework." This framework consists of five pillars: Operational Excellence, Security, Reliability, Performance Efficiency, and Cost Optimization.

The Well-Architected Review process also saw the Cloud303 team working with Sphero’s system architects and other stakeholders to review design documents, conduct interviews with team members, and perform hands-on system testing. Once these steps were completed, Cloud303 produced a report outlining its findings and recommendations for improvements. 

Not only did Cloud303 identify all the resources that could be shut down, Sphero’s workload was also optimized in terms of security and performance as part of the Well-Architected Review process. Among the remediations taken were creating more granular monitors with AWS CloudTrail and Amazon CloudWatch, tightening security measures by implementing more robust AWS Identity and Access Management (IAM) policies, firewall protocols, and encryption (at-rest and in-transit) across the board for services like Amazon Elastic Block Storage, Amazon Simple Storage buckets, etc., as well as suggesting ways to optimize costs with Reserved Instances and Compute Savings plans. 

As a result of the recommendations and remediation action items, Sphero could rest assured that they could deprecate any resources that had become obsolete and/or redundant within their AWS environment.

The Well-Architected Program allowed Cloud303 to perform an in-depth analysis of Sphero's AWS infrastructure at no risk to the company and showed how AWS is a secure, stable, and reliable platform to host its digital resources on the cloud. The program was so positive that Mr. Kellner was convinced AWS was the path forward with Cloud303 as its partner in its cloud journey.

Sphero consequently signed a deal to make Cloud303 its Managed Services Provider, trusting Cloud303 with a large project to containerize and migrate all of their applications from Google Cloud Provider (GCP) to AWS, as well as the creation of an XCode pipeline, and the containerization and migration of their “Little Bits EDU Platform” from Heroku to AWS. 

“Cloud303 has been an excellent partner.  From advising on AWS best practices to complex projects to responding to the day-to-day issues that arise, Cloud303 has been responsive and capable,” Mr. Kellner said.