‘Fastest growing website in history’ scales with Microsoft Azure

London, Ont.-based Go Viral Inc. launched a new website, Diply, in November 2013. Today it sees 50 million page views per month to its bite-sized, pop-culture content that is partly user-generated.

Diply has been called the fastest growing website in history by Compete.com and it is already the most-viewed Canadian website. By Alexa rankings, it is ranked number 150 in the world. The fast growing site is prone to traffic spikes of 12 million views to a single article and 100,000 concurrent users, says Gary Manning, a co-founder and CTO of Diply. That makes instant scaling a daily problem.

“We have a lot of celebrities that share our content, and their followers in turn share the content,” Manning says. “The problem with vitality is that you need to support those spikes as if you were doing it all day long.”

To handle that traffic in an on-demand scenario, Diply rely’s on Microsoft Corp.’s Azure cloud infrastructure. Using 10 Azure servers as a base, Manning simply sets his parameters for when extra servers should kick in to support additional web traffic. Its as simple as moving a slider to set his preferences, and the servers are triggered when the threshold is hit.

“You can set the scalability rating, so when my processors get up to 50 per cent across the board, it adds another server,” he explains.

Diply is getting the message that Microsoft wants more Canadian companies to hear – the cloud isn’t the future, it’s a reliable IT infrastructure model to use today. Microsoft shared the results of a survey conducted for it by Northstar of 476 C-suite employees across Canada that found most of them still aren’t very familiar with the concept of cloud computing and what it has to offer. The event was hosted at the CN Tower, where participants were invited to take a literal walk in the clouds with Edgewalk, an attraction that involves walking on the exterior of the observation deck while harnessed to a pulley.

Diply fouders from left to right are Taylor Ablitt, Dean Elkholy and Gary Manning.
Diply fouders from left to right are Taylor Ablitt, Dean Elkholy and Gary Manning.

A full nine out of 10 Canadian executives weren’t familiar with what cloud computing means, the survey found. Almost three-quarters felt uncomfortable about sharing confidential strategic plans in the cloud and 45 per cent feel their company’s information would be downright unsafe in the cloud.

That lack of awareness is to their detriment, according to Janet Kennedy, president of Microsoft Canada.

“It’s a mistake to think that cloud technology is something we have to learn,” she says. “It’s an opportunity we have to seize.”

The U.S. is ahead of Canada when it comes to adopting cloud technology, she says. Products like Microsoft’s Azure infrastructure, or its Office 365 software as a service offering will be used by half of companies south of the border within five years. Te first reason that most companies consider cloud technology is to pare down the costs posed by investing in physical IT infrastructure, Kennedy says.

That’s true at Diply, where Manning is happy with the $0.11 CPM he pays for eight large cloud services, a premium PS database, HA cache, and content delivery network.

But the real benefits come in the form of flexibility and speed, Kennedy says.

“I understand clearly the anxiety. CEOS are hired to worry about ‘what if?’,” Kennedy says. “But great CEOs think ‘what if we don’t?’ Then the bottom line will become the shrinking line.”

Microsoft has taken it upon itself to educate businesses about the cloud, Kennedy said, and especially smaller businesses that think it’s a capability that can only be accessed by large enterprise.

Members of the Microsoft Canada team take a literal walk in the cloud. John Weiglt is at centre.
Members of the Microsoft Canada team take a literal walk in the cloud. John Weigelt is at centre.

Part of that education will be to work past the broad term of “cloud technology” and focus on the actual services that people are making use of for the cloud, says John Weigelt, national technology officer of Microsoft Canada. Cloud services are like a “swiss army knife” that can address many different challenges at a business, and what tool you use depends on what problem you want to solve.

“For the business owner, that becomes much more concrete,” he says. “They don’t want to think about the technology behind the scenes.”

At Diply, there’s a good understanding of the flexibility that Kennedy refers to with cloud services. For Manning, he appreciates how his development team can deploy to Azure directly fem Visual Studio. Then it can move that deployment through pre-live phases of quality assurance and staging, testing them in a full 10-server environment without needing to own all those servers. Instead, they’re just turned on for the duration of the test.

“That’s what I call development heaven,” he says.

Whether it’s heaven or not, it’s definitely in the cloud.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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Brian Jackson
Brian Jacksonhttp://www.itbusiness.ca
Editorial director of IT World Canada. Covering technology as it applies to business users. Multiple COPA award winner and now judge. Paddles a canoe as much as possible.

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