CHALLENGES: As an early-stage startup, Sprout focused on product development instead of servers; but as the company matured, their growth was outpacing their ability to scale, resulting in the need for a flexible hybrid infrastructure.
BUSINESS OUTCOME: From concept to current state, Sprout holistically addresses social media engagement, publishing and analytics, resulting in the company experiencing unprecedented growth, setting the gold standard for social business.
The flexibility of a hybrid offering with rich cloud services enabled Sprout to innovate at a quicker pace.
Founded in 2010 and based in Chicago's vibrant West Loop neighborhood, Sprout Social is a social media engagement platform that provides a consolidated tool for businesses which includes publishing, monitoring, customer service tools, analytics, and team collaboration features. The company headquarters is a lively center of technology innovation, product development, creative marketing and outstanding customer service, with a team of more than 85 engineers, marketers, designers, product specialists and customer service professionals.
Over the course of a few short years, Sprout's team worked tirelessly to set the gold standard for social business and now provides more than 10,000 customers with three key social media capabilities: engagement, publishing and analytics. Sprout is used by leading global brands - including AMD, McDonald's, Nokia, Pepsi, and UPS - to increase the efficiency of their social media presence and manage conversations across Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn.
It wasn’t long ago that Rackspace was a scrappy startup, and since then, the company has been committed to helping entrepreneurs drive the next generation of businesses with hybrid hosting and Fanatical Support®. “ Four years ago, Rackspace was a great fit for an early startup like Sprout,” says Aaron Rankin, CTO and Co-Founder of Sprout Social. “As a business, we needed to focus on product and not on servers. The Cloud Sites platform was the easiest and most cost-effective solution to get us going and powered us for our entire first year.”
As Sprout Social matured, so did their server needs. Today, their platform is built on a hybrid infrastructure. “We use a hybrid infrastructure and to us it’s a major differentiator for Rackspace,” continues Rankin. “Early on, our growth outpaced our ability to scale so moving our primary databases onto large dedicated systems was the quickest fix at the time and enabled us to focus on the business instead of infrastructure.”
The Sprout Social platform manages more than six million social interactions per day and makes it incredibly efficient for brands to stay connected. Sprout's seamlessly integrated publishing features make it a snap to simultaneously post messages to multiple social networks. Furthermore, Sprout's centralized reporting and analytics help brands make sense of their entire social strategy.
"We still host our high-write MySQL instances on dedicated hardware and will until we can re-factor and isolate parts onto cloud instances with SSD-backed Cloud Block Storage," says Rankin. "Having the flexibility that hybrid infrastructure offers - specifically the very short ping times between segments - is something that only Rackspace has available and was crucial to our growth."
Sprout provides innovative features that businesses need to effectively manage their social media and generate higher levels of satisfaction among their audiences. As a result, customers use Sprout to not only increase the efficiency of their social marketing efforts, but also grow sales and provide remarkable customer support. Sprout is widely praised for an exceptional user experience that becomes increasingly important as social is adopted deeper into organizations.
Rankin breaks down how the company is a highly distributed system today. "Web and mobile clients interact with an API that abstracts many backend systems: storage, queuing, caching, eventing, etc. We process and store lots of heterogeneous data that come in all different shapes and sizes and that are created at widely varying frequencies. To make growth predicable and to isolate issues, we've designed our system to keep similar things together. This makes it easier and more cost-effective to address complex processing, storage and throughput requirements."
"The flexibility of a hybrid offering with rich cloud services lets us bring our product to market faster and innovate more quickly," concludes Rankin. "The Rackspace infrastructure is an enabler, never a constraint."
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