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Fastly Blog

Defining innovation capacity, part 1: The innovation value of your technology stack

This is the first post in a series dedicated to discussing how companies driven by innovation evaluate technology stack expenditures and the cloud-based services used to deliver their products and services.

Today's ideas can become tomorrow's indispensable service. This doesn't happen by magic. It takes a toolbox designed for innovative work.

For example, GitHub is a very successful service, the standard for code repositories. Developers provide their GitHub profiles to show their chops when they apply for new jobs.

GitHub did not intend, originally, to be a web hosting service. With staff on the lookout for a new service and with technology tools on hand to adapt and innovate, however, they were able to create something new and unexpected.

In 2008, GitHub got a little innovative and created GitHub Pages. Upon its release, their users gained the ability to host a website directly from their GitHub repository. Even before this notable shift for the company, reliable site performance was mission critical. Releasing GitHub Pages now made them responsible for the speed of their user's websites in all conditions, including demand peaks.

The GitHub team keeps pushing for improvement. To speed up the already quick Pages, they implemented Fastly's Origin Shield and event-driven content caching. Fastly reduces the load on the origin while maintaining fast loading pages for all requests. In order to maximize the benefit for GitHub users, Fastly gives them a dedicated IP address in each Fastly data center. GitHub customer sites load fast and GitHub's origin hums along undisturbed by traffic peaks. Last year, a user tested GitHub Pages performance against Azure, AWS, and Arvixe. Measuring site load times from a variety of geos, GitHub Pages walloped them overall.

GitHub had the innovative idea to create Pages. Fastly made that service faster, easier, and more cost effective.

"GitHub actually plans Fastly and its CDN services into our development and product roadmap. Fastly is a huge part of our toolkit for writing high performance, high scale web apps."- Jesse Newland, GitHub Systems Engineer

Companies built to innovate

When I look at Fastly's customer list, I see companies that prioritize innovation. They are relevant in today's market and ready to respond when the market changes. More importantly, they are positioned to transform the future with their own breakthroughs.

Fastly customers like Twitter, GitHub, and Imgur move fast. It is stunning how quickly they go from imagination to deploying a production application. The selection of development platform, cloud solution, and delivery network enable that speed. The right technology stack makes space for their hard work and talent to be realized in a hurry.

"We do what I would imagine most startups do: ship code out early and as fast as possible. When we change Fastly configs, we look at the error logs -- if we break something, we can just roll it back with Fastly versioning. Fastly fits into our process because when we ship out a new config, it takes effect almost immediately. Moving quickly is a huge deal for us, and we're able to do that with Fastly."- Alan Schaaf, Founder and CEO of Imgur

We built and continue to expand Fastly capabilities to enable innovation.

With Fastly's Cloud Accelerator, Google Cloud Platform (GCP) and Fastly provide a stack to get applications to users faster. Google Compute Engine (GCE) instances spin up in less than 45 seconds; leveraging containers, you can reduce that to 50 milliseconds. Content can be purged from Fastly in 150 milliseconds or less and configuration pushes take less than 5 seconds.

Fastly's Cloud Accelerator helps speed up cache misses, particularly when you factor in our global direct peering with Google Cloud Platform. Fastly's Origin Shield not only helps accelerate responses but it also reduces load on the origin. That headroom gives a company the flexibility to iterate and refine ideas, solving for horizontal and vertical scaling challenges typically associated with having to maintain load balancers and spin up servers to handle peak loads.

A technology stack that inspires innovation

The right technology stack can make change easy and lower risk. That advantage does not necessarily show up on the total cost of ownership (TCO) calculations that determine the cost and savings related to a technology purchase. The streamlined flexibility, control, and capacity mean that the team has the space and tools to execute on their next idea. . Real-time user data means a company can tune and improve their applications based on good information. Then, with quick deployment of apps and content, an application can get better and faster.

Case study: WIRED's platform for the future

Since first launching in 1993, WIRED has reported on the evolution of technology, business, and culture. They just completed an extensive update to their foundational technology

The end result is more than just a visual redesign. WIRED updated its underlying technology. The dev team re-wrote Curator, the tool their editorial team uses to position stories. Now the home page and other landing pages update automatically based on predefined criteria.

For Curator to work, they needed high-performing apps and the ability to purge cache instantly. WIRED re-thought their entire code base and reduced HTTP requests by 50 percent.

They realized faster page loads, easier editorial and design control, as well as the flexibility necessary to quickly enable new initiatives.

This is what we think about at Fastly: how to prepare an organization to be ready for the shifting future. When a company needs to be nimble, we want to be one of the tools in their toolbox.

Fastly is joining Google Cloud Platform on their Next tour to share more about how we help companies innovate. Keep an eye out for us in your city.

The next post in this series is "Choosing the Path: The Value of Flexibility."

Author

Lee Chen | Head of Streaming Media and Cloud

Lee Chen is Head of Streaming Media and Cloud at Fastly, where he leads new feature development and partnerships for streaming media initiatives.

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