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Overview

Industry: Media

Location: New York, NY

Customer since: September 2014

Favorite Features

Instant Purge
Custom VCL
Surrogate keys
Real-time Dashboard

Why Fastly

Varnish
Flexibility and control
Personalization
All-SSD architecture

About Business Insider

Business Insider is a fast-growing business site with deep financial, media, tech, and other industry verticals. Launched in 2007 by former top-ranked Wall Street analyst Henry Blodget and DoubleClick executives Dwight Merriman and Kevin Ryan, the site is now the largest business news site on the web. Business Insider has seven international editions and 40 million visitors each month.

case study business insider 1

Why Fastly

As Business Insider’s global presence continues to grow, they need to deliver the same quick, high quality experience regardless of their readers’ location. Because Fastly is powered by Varnish, the state-of-the-art web accelerator that Business Insider was already using, it was easy to integrate Fastly without overhauling their existing infrastructure, enabling them to deliver a fast, personalized experience for their users around the globe.

“We were able to simply drop Fastly on top of our current implementation, which was a huge advantage. It was clear that other CDNs would have required us to change a lot of our infrastructure, but Fastly acts as an extension of our stack.” Julie Sommerville, VP of Engineering

Varnish at the edge

“Fastly is the only CDN that lets us harness the power of Varnish to cache and update content globally. What we really needed was Varnish at the edge, closer to our readers around the world. On Fastly, we were able to keep all of our Varnish configurations while broadening our reach, so that a reader in California, Europe, or APAC can come to Business Insider and get fresh content as fast as somebody in New York. Moving to Fastly was the perfection solution.” Julie Sommerville, VP of Engineering

Before moving to Fastly, Business Insider had been running their own Varnish servers as a caching layer to help improve performance and reduce requests to origin. Business Insider has a growing global readership and sought an effective way to bring the performance and control benefits of Varnish closer to their users. Because Fastly is built on Varnish and offers a network of globally distributed points of presence (POPs), Business Insider was able to move their Varnish configurations to the edge for granular caching control and faster delivery to readers across the world.

Personalizing the reader experience

Business Insider serves personalized content to individual users, ensuring their editors, logged-in readers, and visitors each have a unique experience on BusinessInsider.com. They do this by writing and instantly deploying Custom Varnish Configuration Language (VCL) to attach different headers for each type of user. This enables editors to see the content uncached, and gives them the ability to publish and update content instantly, while readers see the latest content in real time. Article comments are cached separately from the article itself — using Fastly’s surrogate keys, Business Insider can display the latest comments without having to purge the entire page.

“We have three different types of use cases on Business Insider — our editors, logged-in readers, and readers who are visiting and don’t log in. Fastly’s Custom VCL lets us serve content from the edge that’s tailored to each type of user, ensuring a great experience for our readers while giving editors complete flexibility.” Julie Sommerville, VP of Engineering

case study business insider 2

Real-time news

Business Insider needed a CDN that could keep pace with modern editorial cycles in order to remain competitive. Their editorial process is iterative; when an article is published, there’s a feedback loop between editors as a story develops, and the article must be updated accordingly.

When an editor makes a change, Business Insider needs to purge the cache immediately, ensuring their readers see the most recent version of the latest story as it happens. Fastly’s Instant Purge gives Business Insider the freedom to make unlimited content changes and control which version of an article is cached and served to readers.

“Fastly gives us a significant competitive edge. Our editorial process is extremely iterative, and Fastly lets us make and deploy changes instantly, ensuring our readers see the most up-to-date content. Being able to purge and update articles in real time should be the standard for all media sites.” Julie Sommerville, VP of Engineering

“We wanted to be faster for Business Insider’s end users. Fastly is the only CDN that allows us to purge at the edge and update our content in milliseconds.” Julie Sommerville, VP of Engineering

Fastly’s real-time analytics allow Business Insider to monitor events as they’re happening, enabling them to identify necessary changes and make and push their own configurations as needed. In addition to real-time and historical stats, Fastly’s Dashboard offers Business Insider insight into percentage of requests per second, hit ratio, errors, and a global traffic profile.

“The Fastly Dashboard allows us to monitor real-time data and changes as we update our configurations and VCL.” Chris Buckley, Director of DevOps

Mobile & media

According to comScore, mobile usage accounts for 60% of digital media consumption. Given the ever-increasing popularity of mobile, it’s important that Business Insider offers a quality experience for readers accessing its site on mobile devices.

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Business Insider’s primary concern is its geographically diverse user base — they have seven international editions with five million visitors each month. This includes editions in Australia, India, Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, China, and the UK. Fastly’s globally distributed network allows them to serve content from the edge, speeding up the experience for both mobile and desktop.

“Fastly helps the speed of content delivery to mobile. Because a lot of our assets are cached on Fastly’s network, we have the benefit of distributing those assets from the edge. With Fastly, we get the same advantage on mobile that we’re getting on the desktop site — serving content instantly from the edge.” Julie Sommerville, VP of Engineering