Last week, me and the rest of the Lanyrd team pulled off two major infrastructure changes in two hours - see our blog post on the move for some background information as well as an overview of the timeline.
I'd like to take a closer look at the technical details of this move and show how exactly we pulled off changing our hosting provider, database vendor and operating system version all in one go.
For many startups, there comes a time when the switch to dedicated hardware and a more 'traditional' hosting model makes sense, and Lanyrd is one of those - we're fortunate to be at least partially a content-based site, and have two distinct advantages:
- Most traffic spikes are to one or two conference pages, and are an easily cacheable pattern.
- Conferences are planned well in advance, so we get good notification of when to expect high-traffic periods for more interactive use.
This means that we're not subject to a huge amount of daily variation or unpredicted traffic spikes, and even if we get some, we have enough overhead to deal with them as we've overprovisioned the new servers slightly.
Softlayer were our dedicated hosts of choice - I've had good experiences of them in the past (Minecraft Forums ran off of them for a while after we outgrew Linode) as have some of my colleagues in the ops side of the industry. In addition, they also have billed-by-the-hour virtual servers available in the same datacentres as your dedicated servers, meaning that even if we overgrow our fixed capacity we can have a new frontend box up and serving requests in about 10 minutes.