Real Time RSS Updates

Today we’re excited to finally announce the arrival of real-time RSS Feed updates. No caching, no delay. Just instant.

At Simplecast we pride ourselves at making things simple. The only problem with being simple, is that simple is sometimes downright hard.

RSS feeds, by themselves, are really simple. That’s probably why RSS stands for really simple syndication 🤷‍. While RSS alone is simple, when combined with a legacy infrastructure we were presented with a rather challenging problem.

The Problem

Simplecast RSS feeds have one purpose, and that purpose is to be consumed. Consumption most often takes the form of podcast apps (eg. Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Overcast, Pocket Casts, etc.).

Depending on a user’s settings, a podcast app or RSS reader could poll the feed every hour, sometimes less, but oftentimes more. This might not sound like a lot of traffic, but we see approximately 2 million requests a day to our RSS feeds.

To handle this kind of traffic, the original development solution cached the RSS feeds for an hour before they were updated again. While this solution prevented our servers from getting overloaded, it caused a different kind of problem — RSS feeds did not update immediately when a podcast was updated or a scheduled episode was ready to be published. There was a slight delay.

The Solution

When we looked at the current infrastructure of Simplecast and how we were going to solve the RSS feed problem, we identified 4 things that needed to happen:

  1. Upgrade our overall server infrastructure (more on this in our next post)
  2. Move RSS feeds to a dedicated content delivery network (CDN)
  3. Scale our server infrastructure to handle the initial CDN cache ingestion
  4. Uncache RSS feeds in real time

In February, we successfully moved and overhauled our entire infrastructure. While this was no easy task, Simplecast is now running better, faster, and smoother than it ever has in the past. The new infrastructure has also put us in a position for infinite server scaling in a cost-efficient manner.

More scalable expenses for us = more savings for you 💰💰

This past week we completed the move of our RSS feeds over to a shiny new dedicated CDN. The CDN will allow for an infinite increase in podcast listeners without affecting our servers in any negative ways. As a bonus, all audio files are streaming off of this CDN too.

Better delivery of content = happier listeners 🔊😀

Today, we are super pleased to announce that we have completed Step 4 and that you are now experiencing the goodness and simplicity of real time RSS feeds. You can now rest assured that podcast and episode changes are immediate and that scheduled episodes are live, exactly when you want them to be.