- RightScale saves iFixit 20-30 man hours during major web traffic events.
- iFixit uses RightScale to manage robust cloud deployments on Amazon's EC2 without dedicating full-time headcount.
iFixit Uses RightScale's Dynamic Auto-Scaling to Handle Web Traffic Spikes Driven by Marketing Events
iFixit is an e-commerce web site that sells repair parts and tools for Apple products including Macs, iPods and iPhones. They support a large community of self-taught technicians by providing free repair manuals. Targeting end users as well as service shops, iFixit helps thousands of people repair their devices every day, with the belief that everyone should have the right to maintain and repair their products, regardless of the vendor.
iFixit is growing in popularity and has been recognized with positive industry reviews as well as social media attention through sites such as Slashdot and Digg. iFixit has also gained a significant amount of attention through unique marketing campaigns called "teardowns." Teardowns are sneak peeks inside the hottest new gadgets. Often timed strategically with the launch of new or updated Apple product releases, teardowns include comprehensive disassembly photos, hardware analysis and commentary. They are a close-up, opened-up view on a hot product that can be found only on iFixit.com.
As iFixit grew in popularity, it experienced web traffic spikes that nearly crippled the site. These spikes came as a result of the positive reviews, mentions on social media sites, as well as their well-received product teardowns. The teardowns, in particular, attract and drive significant traffic from technology enthusiasts to the iFixit site.
Each of the spikes created a rush at iFixit to procure more hardware to withstand the onslaught of traffic. Recognizing the importance of maintaining the site's uptime and upholding iFixit's expanding reputation, while also staying within budget, the company needed a way to handle these events without being forced to make massive capital expenditures on new hardware. So they naturally looked to cloud computing.
We keep our site running fast, and over the years, we've learned a thing or two about handling large spikes in server traffic. Thanks to elastic computing and RightScale, today we're able to dynamically scale our capacity to meet demand.
Kyle Wiens, Co-founder & CEO, iFixit
iFixit moved to the cloud to utilize unlimited server resources on demand. However, the organization had some requirements for its cloud system: it did not want to have to build out a dedicated team to handle the new cloud infrastructure, and it needed assurance that they would not have to repeat routine tasks or have fire drills with each marketing event. iFixit needed a method to manage the cloud infrastructure with a wide range of automation that included dynamic configuration of servers at run-time as well as auto-scaling.
The RightScale Solution
The RightScale Cloud Management Platform was a fundamental part of iFixit's strategy to move to the cloud. RightScale makes it easy for any organization to tap the enormous power of cloud computing for scalable, cost-effective IT infrastructure on demand, with complete control and portability. Through the fully-automated RightScale platform, iFixit can easily deploy, manage and dynamically scale even complex, multi-cloud applications.
With RightScale, iFixit has been able to easily manage its e-commerce site and automatically scale up server capacity in the cloud to meet variable web traffic demands. The RightScale platform was the obvious choice for iFixit because of RightScale's management tools and automation that sit above the low-level cloud infrastructure, allowing iFixit to remove themselves from the minutia of working directly on a cloud infrastructure and to manage their servers as a "system" instead of as individual servers. RightScale enabled iFixit to not only migrate to the cloud quickly, but to more effectively manage its cloud applications over time, with a minimal amount of personnel time.
iFixit faced the classic dilemma of maintaining enough hardware to ensure fast response time on their site when they entered into their teardown marketing campaigns (Graph 1). In this situation, businesses often lose customers if they don't over-provision their hardware, but this can result in increased capital expenditure as well as wasted capacity. iFixit chose to follow the strategy of moving to a managed cloud environment (Graph 2). In this scenario, iFixit is able to take advantage of on-demand provisioning of cloud compute power when needed and then ramp down when the event is completed.
RightScale and Dynamic Autoscaling
Utilizing the managed cloud strategy with the RightScale management platform, iFixit now benefits from dynamic autoscaling – its servers are launched in the context of their overall deployment without any manual intervention. There is no need for custom machine images to be written or maintained. And the autoscaling can be based on user demand, job queues or scaling based on a pre-defined schedule.
"Our first test of the cloud managed by RightScale was the launch of the iPhone, and that day we spun up enough servers to handle an increase in our traffic from 40,000 to 750,000 hits. We managed the autoscaling up beautifully using the RightScale platform. Then the next day, we went down to half as many servers and then down to our normal number the following day, all managed easily with RightScale. Because we are using RightScale, we estimate that we save 20-30 hours of frustration when we have big traffic events" said Wiens.
RightScale has significantly increased iFixit's uptime during load spikes. With the automation and control provided by RightScale, iFixit's systems have become more robust as well as predictable and reliable.
"We continue to be impressed with RightScale's best practices for configurations. They are spot on and simplify the complexity of what we're managing on the cloud. When we need to launch a new deployment it's easy to budget the time it will take to launch or do a task," stated Dave Patierno, iFixit Senior Developer.