The solution gives Behance unbeatable uptime, control, and support.
A platform to showcase and discover creative work.
Fast-growing company with huge amount of images to store, process, and deliver. A small team that doesn't want to have dedicated systems administrators.
Company can rapidly scale its business; able to store lots of user-generated content; saves time and money; allows their development team to focus on building a better product, not just keeping the site up and running.
Founded in 2007, Behance is a platform that allows creative professionals to build and update portfolios of their work. Their ‘publish here, appear everywhere’ model allows creatives to keep their portfolios updated in one place and distribute them to LinkedIn®, their own personal portfolio site, and a variety of galleries across the web. The SoHo-based company also powers creative networks for institutions such as the School of Visual Arts, Adweek, and AIGA, the professional association for design.
Behance’s unique offerings have earned them a huge community: the work of hundreds of thousands of creatives attracts ten million visits each month. The company’s popularity creates an enormous demand for storage space and processing power, and Behance relies on Rackspace and RightScale to keep things running smoothly.
A RAPIDLY GROWING BUSINESS
In the five years since its founding, Behance continues to experience explosive growth, currently netting 55 million pageviews per month. Because of the network’s emphasis on images, Behance CTO Chris Henry explains, processing power is at a premium. “As a company that handles a lot of visual work,” he says, “we have to process all these images and we have to create numerous copies in different sizes and resolutions. We really need a lot of processing power.”
Behance has a number of social networking features that facilitate the browsing of the creative work it hosts. To that end, the Behance team has built activity and appreciation streams that display the portfolios that are attracting other users’ attention, allowing the exploration of a wider variety of work. Behance needed a hosting solution that could store a large amount of data, process that data rapidly, and would do both without costing a fortune in money or time. Rackspace® and RightScale proved the perfect choice, allowing Behance’s dev team to focus on customer-facing, revenue-driving features.
CHOOSING RACKSPACE AND RIGHTSCALE
Behance’s relationship with Rackspace began five years ago, when the company was just setting up the first iterations of their network. They’d outgrown their very small hosting account at a different provider, and they were looking for a host that could help their four young developers—none of whom were systems administrators—with some of the issues they couldn’t manage themselves.
“We were trying to do something as simple as a PHP upgrade, and with our old host, this was a frustrating and time-consuming process,” says Henry. “What we were looking for was a company that could help us with a lot of low-level things that we, as a very small team and a very young team, simply didn’t have the time and energy to handle. Rackspace was a natural fit.”
As Behance’s network grew, so did their hosting needs. They began with a single dedicated physical server and now have “around 50, with more every month,” according to Henry. In 2011, Henry says, “We wanted to build increasingly data-intensive applications, and we had a lot of great use cases for cloud.”
SAVING TIME AND BANDWIDTH
One of these use cases was image processing. The company’s preferred software for the task was ImageMagick, which produced the crispest images they’d seen. Unfortunately, it was also resource-intensive, and running ImageMagick on the application server was causing performance problems. The last thing the company wanted to do was waste time and bandwidth sending images over the Internet for processing.
Enter the Rackspace Cloud. “At the time, Rackspace Cloud Servers had come out, and it was kind of natural to build a simple API that would push all of our images from our web tier over to our image-processing tier, process them, send them back, and store them,” Henry says. “RackConnect allowed us to connect all of those Cloud Servers to our internal network, which was huge. We had sub-millisecond ping times and didn’t have to worry about going over the Internet.”
Behance manages their nearly 100 Cloud Servers through RightScale cloud management. “RightScale provides a better way to go about provisioning Cloud Servers and updating them,” Henry says. In this case, “we use an ImageMagick script that pulls down ImageMagick, compiles it and installs it. Then we use one last RightScript that installs PHP and our very small web application that accepts images from the web tier, resizes them, and sends them back. That’s it. It’s very, very simple, and very effective.”
STREAMLINING PROVISIONING AND CONFIGURATION
Behance also uses Cloud Servers and RightScale as a platform to develop and deliver new features such as their activity feed and an appreciation stream. “Within four hours we were able to create a new type of application on the cloud using RightScripts,” says Henry. RightScripts enable his team to reuse and automate shared configurations across applications. Using RightScale and Cloud Servers, “we don’t have to spend a whole lot of time or money to experiment with new applications.”
Henry is a champion of the DevOps mentality, he says, and “I didn’t have to look for system administrators because of Rackspace and RightScale.” Two back-end developers manage all of the provisioning, application deployment, and capacity management. They easily push code updates on to live servers, and new servers will automatically update. “Cloud Servers and RightScale allow us to add capacity the moment we need it,” Henry says, “and not a moment later.”
Henry’s favorite RightScale feature is the SSH login, which allows him access to any server with a single password. “That layer of access control is really huge,” Henry says. “It allows me to keep track of a large number of passwords and easily give access to new team members.”
SUPPORT WHEN THEY NEED IT
For Henry, Fanatical Support® means “there’s someone to help me in an emergency. Any time of day, any time of night, when things are going horribly wrong.” Luckily, with the help of Rackspace and RightScale, that isn’t often.
In addition to providing peace of mind, working with Rackspace and RightScale has saved Behance time and money, allowing them to grow without the addition of dedicated systems administrators. Behance’s support team at Rackspace has not only solved problems for them, but also enabled them to learn from some of the best systems administrators in the business.
“My favorite thing about working with Rackspace is the fact that they like to teach their customers a lot of things,” Henry says. “Any issue that we come across, there is someone who is a brilliant Linux engineer or a brilliant backup engineer, who we can get our hands on, have them solve a problem, and then teach us how to solve it in the future. Aside from handling all the nitty-gritty stuff, that’s something that’s really important to us.”
“Thanks to Fanatical Support and RightScale cloud management,” says Henry, “we are able to keep our team focused on the customer-facing products and features that are our core business.”
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