Wednesday Jul 08, 2009

Audioboo we love you, Sun Startup Essentials we love you to.

What is AudioBoo ?

AudioBoo is a website and iPhone OS application designed to allow users to post and share sound files on the AudioBoo website. AudioBoo was developed by UK based BestBefore and partially funded by Channel 4 and was launched in March 2009.

AudioBoo allows iPhone users to record and playback digital recordings up to 5 minutes long which can then be posted on the AudioBoo website where users have their own pages or channels akin to Twitter or Youtube. These recordings are referred to as 'boos' and photos can be added to the boo from the iPhone library along with a title. You can either capture this Audio using a iPhone or dial a number using a standard telephone and push you boo back to the website, either works simply.

As with any startup, there are costs in technology, development and infrastructure which Ive asked AudioBoo to explain why they have used Sun Startup Essentials programme to get them through the painful few months of costs but also to look at how we are helping them with introductions to Enterprise's and overall PR and marketing.

Overview of current AudioBoo setup

We’ve got two Sun Fire X2200’s through Sun’s Try and Buy scheme - it’s been really useful to experience the high standard of build and features of the Sun Server hardware before we made any commitment.

Try and Buy has helped due to its no cost upfront, we get to test and work with the systems for two months before we make the decision to buy and invest in these Enterprise class servers, but what was surprising was the aspect of the cost as its through Sun Startup Essentials the pricing is aimed at companies like ourselves to help use best in class hardware at low cost pricing.

ZFS (File System)

This was the obvious choice of file-system and the initial reason for us considering the OpenSolaris platform before we had even considered Sun hardware.
By using ZFS, we know that any data we store on the servers is, for all intents and purposes, “safe” from silent hard disk corruption and even a single drive completely failing. On top of that, we know that any corruption that does occur is reported and in most cases automatically and transparently repaired.

Being safe from run-time corruption and hardware failures is one thing, but we also need to make sure we’re prepared for more serious disasters. We were relieved to find ZFS's flexibility really simplified our backup routines. We’ve integrated instant snapshots of the live file-systems into a series of surprisingly simple scripts, meaning all of our data can be incrementally backed-up at a block-level.

Reading the long feature-set of ZFS I wasn’t looking forward to what I had presumed to be a steep-learning curve to master it’s configuration and day-to-day operation. I was pleasantly surprised when I found the command line tools were straight-forward, well documented, cleanly and consistently presented and - as far as I can tell - designed to prevent you from (easily) doing any harm.

This all takes a huge load off our minds; we’re really confident about the security, performance and flexibility of this next-generation file-system.

xVM and Solaris Zones

We originally wanted to deploy our web applications onto physical linux machines and currently have a deployment geared towards Linux. xVM enables us to virtualize the immensely powerful hardware in a sensible and scalable manner whilst taking advantage of Sun's other technologies, such as ZFS for storage, and maintaining the same linux operating environment for the production code we are used to.

Having got off the ground with xVM, I've been drawn to the idea of switching to Solaris Zones as a virtualisation platform, spurring our efforts to to port our production code and deployment routines to OpenSolaris. This has which has had the surprising benefit of allowing us to take advantage of OpenSolaris components such as the Service Management Framework, simplifying day-to-day management and DTrace, which is able to easily probe and profile the production environment in an entirely new way as well as removing the inherent overhead of xVM which must run multiple kernels in parallel.

Crossbow

We were testing the environment using a pre-release build of the OpenSolaris 0906 platform to take advantage of the new Crossbow network virtualization technologies, part of which creates a single 3Gbps aggregated link between the two boxes using three of their gigabit network adapters. On top of this link we can then create flexible VLANs providing isolated, virtual private networks between the virtual machines running on each physical machine. The low technical and administrative cost of configuring the VLANs means we can carefully isolate groups virtual machines based on their function, limiting the impact of compromise or failure of any individual machine.

Summary

In summary, AudioBoo decided on a OpenSolaris platform before trialing the hardware, then due to the advantages in OpenSolaris around Dtrace, Crossbow, etc has meant less cost in overhead of managing the infrastructure thus releasing time and effort to actually do what is required, develop the application and build the business then throw in the FREE TRIAL and low cost acquisiton costs of the hardware has meant increased uptime as well.

This is before we opened discussion around the global PR we can create, the introductions at a high level to companies AudioBoo wished to talk to in order to enable them to speed up discussions, and this took place without AudioBoo even committing to purchase anything.

So AudioBoo we love you, as you see how Sun Startup Essentials can help you grow as a business but also how Sun technology can help reduce you costs dramatically and enable you to focus on your core passion, which is Booing.

Techcrunch article on AudioBoo

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