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#1 iPhone Teaching Site Scales Up and Down on Mosso

, 9 Sep 2008
After experiencing scaling issues with their previous hosting provider, the founders of the #1 iPhone tutorial site turned to Mosso, Rackspace’s cloud hosting division, because of the company’s tech support, scalability and affordability.

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Introduction

The #1 iPhone tutorial site, which started last year to help users get the most out of their iPhone, has experienced skyrocketing demand. After experiencing scaling issues with their previous hosting provider, the founders turned to Mosso, Rackspace’s cloud hosting division, because of the company’s tech support, scalability and affordability.

Overview

AppleiPhoneSchool is the #1 iPhone teaching and video site. It launched just under a year ago when founders Douglas and Brooke Porter got their first iPhones. A technology entrepreneur, Doug was intrigued by all the programs that started popping up, and before long was hacking his phone to add things like Customize, to replace the iPhone AT&T header, and Summerboard, to change his iPhone’s theme, wallpaper and icons.

Doug posted his experience and advice on the web, and in no time started getting questions from people who had read his posts. Before long, there was such overwhelming interest that Doug and Brooke decided to start a website devoted to providing advice, teaching, tips and tricks to iPhone owners. The site is a wealth of information for users of any level — from an iPhone 101 podcast, to iPhone-related news and events, to the latest tips, tricks and iPhone hacks.

As of July 2008, AppleiPhoneSchool averages about 25,000 unique users a day, with more than 100,000 page views per day.

Situation

Initially, Doug hosted his site with a shared hosting provider. Things were going fine until the company expanded. That was about the same time when AppleiPhoneSchool was starting to take off. Traffic was on the rise and the number of web pages began to increase, as Doug and team worked hard to keep up with the exploding amount of information about the iPhone.

The shared provider couldn’t handle the increase in traffic, or the increase in page numbers on the AppleiPhoneSchool site. Although the company offered a dedicated server for $100 dollars, Doug was unimpressed with their tech support and instead decided to look around. After reviewing several alternatives, Doug and Brooke chose Mosso as their web hosting provider because of the company’s exemplary customer support, scalability and affordability.

Mosso, Rackspace’s cloud hosting division, was created to make it easy to build and deploy websites. All users need to do is upload their code, and Mosso takes care of the rest, including monitoring, patching, configuration, security, scaling, etc. The company’s flagship offering, The Hosting Cloud, is a standards-based, enterprise-level platform that gives users access to advanced clustered technology designed for high-traffic, high-performance websites — no hardware to manage or devices to configure.

Solution

Mosso’s 24/7/365 technical support, available through live chat or by phone, was the biggest selling point for Doug. After wasting many long nights trying to solve a problem that his previous provider’s tech support wasn’t available to help with, this feature was invaluable.

“For me, time is of the essence. I am only as good as the latest information I’ve published. If we don’t have the latest piece of news out, or if the site is slow or down, my viewers will go elsewhere,” says Doug. “I needed a partner that was working around the clock to ensure that my site was performing and, when a problem crops up, to stick with me until it’s solved. I found that in Mosso.”

Doug and Brooke use Wordpress for their blogging platform. The Mosso team had several people on staff with in-depth understanding of Wordpress. “This was huge for me,” says Doug, “My previous provider didn’t have in-house Wordpress expertise, and when problems arose, I was forced to search for solutions myself. It was tedious and time consuming on my part. The techs at Mosso just get it instantly; I don’t have to bring anyone up to speed.”

“One time I took the site down when I accidentally corrupted a table in the Wordpress database. Mosso recovered me by replacing it with an original piece of code from Wordpress. That was huge! My previous host would have just told me to reinstall Wordpress.”

Brooke goes on to explain how simple it is to use the Mosso control panel. Mosso developers have taken the technical aspects out of the interface and the functionality is quick and easy when she sets things up on her own. She admits she has nowhere near the skills of a programmer and being able to set up MySQL with a few mouse clicks without having to call a Mosso tech is immeasurable.

Results

Because AppleiPhoneSchool covers the most wildly popular smartphone in history, and when Apple makes news, the site gets viewers. Flexibility – the ability to immediately scale up or down depending on demand – was critical to Doug. If and when the site’s usage skyrockets, the Mosso Hosting Cloud automatically distributes the load across multiple servers. When the hits subside, the site is seamlessly taken off those additional servers.

On the long awaited day of the Worldwide Developers Conference 2008 and the announcement of the iPhone 3G, traffic to AppleiPhoneSchool.com doubled, using the compute power of approximately three dedicated servers. When the iPhone 3G became publicly available one month later, the site peaked again – recording the best traffic day yet!

“We’ve been busy this summer!” says Brooke. “But thankfully, we haven’t been busy worrying about or fussing with servers and hardware. With Mosso, the site just hums along no matter how many visitors we’re getting.”

Hosted on The Hosting Cloud, AppleiPhoneSchool.com scales automatically and seamlessly, relieving Doug and his team of making tough decisions about adding more power. Every time Apple makes an iPhone-related announcement, the iPhone experts can focus their efforts on what they do best, dishing out useful information about technology they love.

Had the site been hosted on a single dedicated box, Doug and Brooke would have needed to plan for the expected traffic surges well in advance with their hosting provider, and guess how many servers would be needed to handle the load. An overestimate would have equated to a sunk cost while a low-ball estimate might have brought the site to its knees.

A perfect guess would have been lucky, but still, with a dedicated environment, Doug and Brooke would have paid for the servers to sit idle in the data center during the days/weeks before and after the traffic surge. With Mosso, Doug and Brooke only pay for the resources their site uses.

“People from all over the world come to our site to learn about the iPhone,” says Doug. “As Apple continues to release new versions at more affordable prices, more people will start wanting more information about the iPhone. By hosting with Mosso, I know these visitors will actually find a site that works and runs fast.”

Doug continues, “Mosso has been an amazing partner. We are thrilled at the responsiveness and support. The few times I have had to call, usually because of my own doing, the techs are very friendly and helpful. Mosso is part of our team; they are willing to really work with us to get things right.”

License

This article, along with any associated source code and files, is licensed under The Code Project Open License (CPOL)

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