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Peek Behind the Scenes at Socialize

Socialize is well known for the robust infrastructure of its drop-in social platform, which handles over 20 requests per second -- over 1.5 million requests in the past 24 hours across thousands of mobile apps and millions of end users.  But how does a team of just ten employees set up and manage such an infrastructure?  Here's a sneak peek behind the curtain so you can see how it's done.

Our databases, servers, Partner API and SDKs have been architected to always push meta data to our systems.  Each component is built as stand-alone infrastructure, allowing us to audit and optimize intelligence on how each piece is performing.  We then leverage tools by Splunk to turn our massive log files into actionable intelligence, and we use TeamCity for continuous integration.  Even further behind the scenes we are using Nginx, Apache, load-balanced Amazon AWS & RDS, Robotium, Selenium, gh-unit, OCMock, KIF, Google App Engine and other best-in-class technologies. It all comes together on a 50" flatscreen monitor and 32" iMac that our Quality Assurance engineer monitors and all our employees can see.  We even have a flashing green light that turns red when a build breaks or we detect latencies in our system, and all our developers are notified when there's a problem.

Here's a video of Sean describing the systems and how we use them to ensure Socialize is always available and performing flawlessly in your app:

More pictures of our system:

Click to Enlarge -- Our Performance Dashboard Socialize is well known for the robust infrastructure of its drop-in social platform, which handles over 20 requests per second -- over 1.5 million requests in the past 24 hours across thousands of mobile apps and millions of end users.  But how does a team of just ten employees set up and manage such an infrastructure?  Here's a sneak peek behind the curtain so you can see how it's done. Our databases, servers, Partner API and SDKs have been architected to always push meta data to our systems.  Each component is built as stand-alone infrastructure, allowing us to audit and optimize intelligence on how each piece is performing.  We then leverage tools by Splunk to turn our massive log files into actionable intelligence, and we use TeamCity for continuous integration.  Even further behind the scenes we are using Nginx, Apache, load-balanced Amazon AWS & RDS, Robotium, Selenium, gh-unit, OCMock, KIF, Google App Engine and other best-in-class technologies. It all comes together on a 50" flatscreen monitor and 32" iMac that our Quality Assurance engineer monitors and all our employees can see.  We even have a flashing green light that turns red when a build breaks or we detect latencies in our system, and all our developers are notified when there's a problem. Here's a video of Sean describing the systems and how we use them to ensure Socialize is always available and performing flawlessly in your app: More pictures of our system: /td> /td>

APIs: Ambassadors of the Tech Industry

OK I'll admit it:  I'm an API-oholic.  I'm addicted to APIs.  In the nerdy tech world, APIs are old news, but to most regular folks, the term APIs is just a confusing acronym.  It is my goal to de-mystify the API a bit in this post, and explain how APIs are changing the world in very real, tangible ways that will matter to you.

First, a definition and a bit of history.  API stands for Application Programming Interface.  That's also a pretty incomprehensible set of words to most people.   So let's simplify:  For the purpose of this blog post, think of an API as a key that opens a door to a room you really want to get into.

Let's take this fantasy analogy a bit further.  Let's imagine that there are rumors that there's an island in the Pacific ocean that's inhabited by a previously unknown group of humans which have never before had contact with the modern world.  They don't speak English, but it just so happens that their little island is known to have a tremendous stockpile of diamonds and gold.  There's a mad rush by many people to figure out where this island is located so they can lay claim to its natural resources.

But the inhabitants of this Secret Island are smart.  They know how valuable their gold and diamonds are, and they know that by allowing the modern world to find them, they'll be in danger.  So they send an ambassador to strike a compromise, and that ambassador happens to find you (imagine the odds -- it's your lucky day!) The ambassador tells you that the entire modern world can communicate with their island through a special interface they've set up.  And they will answer, but only if the communication happens on very specific terms -- their terms.  They won't answer to any random requests.

This interface he gives you happens to be through a computer terminal.  Well, that's convenient, they know how to use computers. This ambassador gives you a special URL through which you can contact his people.  It looks something like this: http://thedataweb.rm.SecretIsland.gov/data/2010/acs5?key=b48301d897146e8f8efd9bef3c6eb1fcb864cf&get=B02001_001E,NAME&for=state:06,36

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