How to scale your video sharing service to handle 6 million users in 30 days

Who doesn’t have time to watch a 36 second long video? Not many people it turns out, as the Toronto-based video sharing service Keek has proven by registering six million users in just 30 days, it recently announced. Add to that another 2 million it added during a previous 30-day previous 30 day-period in 2012 and you’ve got a serious demand for streaming and uploading 36-seconds videos, or “keeks” as they’re called.

But one guy is just too busy to scope Kim Kardashian’s latest video update. Turns out it’s Jeremy Wilson, Keek’s chief technical officer. He’s got his hands full trying to keep the IT operations of the fast-growing firm running smoothly.

“I’m far too busy making the system run properly and support all our users,” he says when asked who he follows on Keek. “It’s definitely a challenge.”

Over January, Wilson tackled a project positioning Keek for even more growth and on a whole different level. Keek is increasing capacity to handle five times its present load and then 10 times its present load just three months from now. It is a project that will involve tripling its present number of server computers and upgrading technical infrastructure at data centres providing the service to local customers around the world. All this is being done in collaboration with Dell Inc.

Tapping Dell’s solutions that are normally installed at larger enterprises, Keek made use of a financing program at the IT vendor to deal with the upfront capital costs. “We can spread out our purchases and save our money for development and longer term planning,” Wilson says. “It gives us more breathing room.”

Here’s a look at the IT specifics behind Keek’s fast growing streaming service:

Geek facts about Keek

Blade servers: Because it was adding a lot more servers to its co-location site, Keek wanted to save as much space, power use, and cabling footprint. So it used Dell’s PowerEdge M1000e blade enclosures to house half-height M620 blade servers with Intel Xeon processors to crunch the heavy computing, complemented by M610 blades for load-balancing and M910 blade servers to host databases.

Greasing the pipes: To deliver video data as fast as possible, Keek is cached at data centres in the UK and the US. Multiple, redundant, 10 Gbps connections are provided via PowerConnect M8024 switches. Also, the videos uploaded are stored on Dell’s EqualLogic FS7500 Unified Storage Solution that balances the load and allows for faster delivery of the video. Finally, Keek has written custom code to handle the upload and download of Keeks to make it as fast as possible.

Open source: Dell’s servers come loaded with open source software that Wilson describes as fast and reliable. CentOS Linux is the server operating system, used in many enterprise environments. Nginx is the Web server that allows Keek users to interact via the Web site and mobile apps. MongoDB is the database software that stores the videos uploaded.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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Brian Jackson
Brian Jackson
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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