Feb 9, 2009

MailChimp Server Expansion

voxel-cdn

Over the last several months, we’ve been investing in really beefing up the MailChimp infrastructure.  Partly because we’re paranoid. We don’t like the idea of our entire app in one data center.

I mean, we like them and all, but better safe than sorry.

Database Replication

This month, we’ve been plugging in new databases, so we can have increased replication and redundancy (just in case). I discussed some of this in the recent MailChimp Newsletter.

Content Distribution Network (CDN)

We’re also doing it to speed up the application. A bunch of our images and CSS files are now hosted on a Content Distribution Network (CDN). The pretty graphic above is from their brochure. Looks fancy, huh?

Anyway, it’s supposed to spread our files across the globe, so that instead of constantly pinging our app servers to ask for the various little buttons and icons and CSS files that make MailChimp so pretty, you can download all that stuff from the server that’s closest to you.

We’ve heard from a few users that MailChimp feels sluggish, or "looks funky."

If so, tell us if you see this churning away in your status bar:

waiting-for-cdn

That tells us your ISP is not connecting to our CDN and downloading our CSS files and images.

If you know how to do this, it would be tremendously helpful to our CDN if you could run a traceroute to MailChimp (also, tell us your browser and OS). You can send to help@mailchimp.

These are annoying little issues to be dealing with in the short term, but long term, this is all going to help MailChimp run harder better faster stronger.

Browser Issues? Clear the ole cache.

Immediately after we launched MailChimp v4, it seems Firefox and Safari both upgraded their browsers. Like, the day after. So if MailChimp looks or behaves funny for you lately, and you’ve recently upgraded your browser, then clear your cache. Things should go back to normal then.

MailChimp.com is moving

We’re also not going to host our own website anymore. MailChimp.com, I mean. We’re putting that into the capable hands of MediaTemple. This’ll help us deal with the traffic surges we occasionally experience on the public website, and will keep the impact to the MailChimp app minimal.

Speaking of MailChimp.com, a new website has been in the works, and is going to be launching shortly.

Here’s a sneak-peek:

mailchimp-website-v4

We’re super excited about bringing the monkey back (read this if you’re wondering where he went in the first place). The new website is built on Expression Engine, so updates will be easier and more frequent.

Okay, the truth is the developers are mainly doing this to keep me and the marketing team as far away as possible from the app servers. I didn’t think I broke stuff all that much, but fine.

Better safe than sorry.