Case Study - Microgroove
Microgroove Expands its Customer Base, Services, and Music Platform with Help from GoGrid
The Microgroove Platform powers many of the world's most popular music websites. Unlike traditional text-focused content management systems (CMSs), the company's CMS is designed to manage and deliver rich media and music. As effective as Microgroove's technology is, the company is first and foremost a service provider dedicated to designing exceptional user experiences. In fact, Microgroove's service-first approach to architecting and engineering sites has even attracted customers outside the music industry. Using GoGrid, Microgroove has been able to take the scope of services it offers to the next level.
Brett Nagy, technical director for Microgroove, explains: "We've expanded our service offering to include website hosting and management. Using the GoGrid cloud infrastructure as our hosting environment, we're able to focus on growth and continually enhancing our services - without worrying about hardware."
Removing Barriers to Growth
For the first 8 years of Microgroove's existence, customers had to host the company's platform themselves. Microgroove customers ran more than 500 sites doing just that, with some managing the solution at their own data centers and others using traditional hosting and co-location services. Yet customers kept asking whether Microgroove could host their websites. So the company decided to explore hosting.
"We experimented with hosting sites for two customers using servers we maintained at a co-location facility," says Nagy. "It worked fine for the customers, but we quickly realized that we really didn't want to manage hardware. Expanding into hosting with our own infrastructure would have meant bringing on a team of system administrators and constantly worrying about hardware."
As cloud computing and infrastructure as a service (IaaS) gained prominence, Microgroove reconsidered. "We decided to explore IaaS as a way to address our customers' interest in having us host sites for them," says Nagy. "Managing hardware and dealing with traditional hosting were points of frustration for many of our customers, and we wanted to help them."
A flexible network architecture for rich media: Dedicated Servers provide high disk performance in a private architecture, Cloud Servers provide elastic scalability for application and web servers in production and staging environments, and a secure VPN allows seamless management of the GoGrid infrastructure from Microgroove's corporate headquarters.
Microgroove quickly narrowed its search for an IaaS partner to GoGrid and another leading company. Performance was the top factor in the evaluation process, but cost played a role, too. GoGrid stood out in both areas. GoGrid employed a hybrid architecture that combined efficient cloud servers with dedicated servers for database functions. The other provider used a fully virtualized environment.
Nagy explains why the GoGrid architecture appealed to Microgroove: "Dedicated hardware offers a huge advantage when it comes to disk performance. Entirely virtualized architectures share hardware, so your read/writes are potentially contending with other customers. With GoGrid, we don't compete with other databases and customers to read and write to disks. We felt the GoGrid architecture offered exponentially better performance."
GoGrid also delivered on cost. "On paper the costs seemed comparable," says Nagy. "Then we looked at how we'd be charged for the way we wanted to use IaaS. Because our solution uses persistent images, the other provider became very expensive when we took that into account. GoGrid's pricing model was much more conducive to the way our platform worked."
Hosting 100+ Sites
Today, Microgroove hosts more than 100 websites on GoGrid. Cloud servers connect site visitors to music and other content. Dedicated hardware runs the SQL-database and NoSQL-database portions of the Microgroove Platform. The GoGrid content delivery network (CDN) accelerates the delivery of content, including streaming content, to points of presence all over the world. For staging and testing, Microgroove has another set of cloud servers and dedicated hardware. A virtual private network (VPN) connects Microgroove to GoGrid. According to Nagy, the VPN is a significant asset. "The VPN gives us an always-on, site-to-site connection to the GoGrid infrastructure," he says. "We don't think of GoGrid as being a separate data center. It's like GoGrid is an extension of our office. Staging, testing, and management are seamless."
More than 7,500 Miles in a Flash
A look at one of Microgroove's largest hosted sites, getmusic.com.au, illustrates how GoGrid delivers on performance. As one of Australia's most active music portals, getmusic.com.au contains more than 2 million music and merchandise SKUs, hundreds of thousands of MP3 streams, and several mobile APIs.
"Getmusic.com.au was self-hosting our platform and decided it was time to explore hosting with us," says Nagy. "Given the distance of more than 7,500 miles between GoGrid and Australia, performance was a concern. Testing proved that GoGrid would work well. When needed, dedicated hardware delivers great read/write performance, and the CDN has a point of presence in Sydney to transmit content. Site visitors in Australia don't notice any latency, and our customer doesn't need to think about hardware anymore."
New Customers—Without Adding Resources
Prior to turning to GoGrid, it was too expensive and time-consuming for Microgroove to roll out an installation of the Microgroove Platform for one or just a few artists. After configuring GoGrid to function as the infrastructure for the Microgroove Platform, the company realized it could serve a broader customer base. Being able to work with—and host—more customers has swelled the number of websites the Microgroove Platform delivers. But thanks to GoGrid, Microgroove has been able to maintain its focus on platform innovation and service instead of hardware.
"Now we can work with customers of virtually any size," explains Nagy. "Developing and adding one site, even a smaller site, is easy. GoGrid has allowed us to be far more nimble and agile, and that's helping us serve individual artists and managers, not just large record labels. As we've expanded our customer base, we haven't needed to add a single employee to administer sites. GoGrid is that reliable and easy to use."
"We want our customers to think about features and what they want to achieve with their sites, not hosting," adds Nagy. "Hosting isn't just another service for us. It eliminates constraints around what we can do for customers. Now there's no need to worry about what a customer's hardware, system administrator, or hosting provider can or can't do. GoGrid gives us the control over our environment that we need to build the best solution for our clients."
"GoGrid gives us the control over our environment that we need to build the best solution for our clients."
– Brett Nagy, Technical Director
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Using GoGrid, Microgroove has been able to:
- Expand its customer base
- Focus on innovation, not hardware
- Host more than 100 top artists and recording labels
- Grow significantly without adding employees to manage hardware or hosting
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