How to Achieve Hyperscale Through Internet Infrastructure Planning
How does a college project between three 22-year-old friends become a business worth $778 million? That’s the story of Weebly, the website-building service that enables 45 million entrepreneurs around the world to connect with more than 325 million unique visitors.
When asked about the keys to their success, Chris Fanini, founder and CTO, points to an unlikely advantage: taking ownership of building out and managing their internet infrastructure from day one.
When Weebly was first starting out back in 2006, the public cloud offerings we know and love were not around in their current form, so Chris and his team had to handle their growing user demand the hard way: by building their own infrastructure within a datacenter. At one point, they physically drove their own servers cross-country from Pennsylvania to California.
“We didn’t have the benefit of flipping a switch and adding CPU, hardware, space, memory, bandwidth, etc. at our whim.” Chris explains, “We had to focus on being extremely efficient, and in doing so, we were able to save money and better understand the inner workings of our application and how to best scale it.”
By having to pay attention to their infrastructure early, the Weebly team was able to optimize their business and build internal expertise that they might not otherwise have gained. An intimate knowledge of their application’s operations wasn’t just a nice intellectual exercise, it gave Weebly a real competitive advantage.
“It’s really helped us keep costs under control…It’s helped us run a leaner organization.”
Which, as we all know, may mean the difference between IPO and DOA.
Today, most startups offload their infrastructure to the public cloud initially, often saving time and resources. But doing so masks the vital dependencies between infrastructure, engineering, and finance.
“If you’re accustomed to building applications and throwing virtual hardware at it when you don’t need to, you lose sight of what’s really going on.”
On the cusp of an opportunity for game-changing growth, your company could find itself blindsided by unsustainable charges from your cloud provider, and at a loss for where to go next. Fumbling at that pivotal moment of growth could send your company spiraling prematurely into the startup graveyard of “could have been” greats.
Fortunately, avoiding such a disaster is simple: plan ahead.
Chris advises setting up logging and instrumentation as early as possible. Doing so will allow you to anticipate your application’s requirements and actually map out how your company will scale once it hits that inflection point.
“Once you have all that [instrumentation] in place and you start to paint the picture, you realize that not only can you save money, but also have better performance, full control, and full utilization of the system.”
Armed with a view of your entire application stack, you’ll be much better equipped to tackle the next set of questions that go along with scaling your infrastructure: Which services do I need? What will it cost me? And, most importantly, where can I find the accurate, actionable data needed to make these crucial decisions?
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