Remember when we said we would make the website more stable and more reliable? Well, we have been working hard on making our platform just that: more stable and more reliable.
We recognize that no matter what we do with new and improved features, if the site is not available and speedy, it is not serving the needs of our members and keeping them warm, dry and connected while they travel. To that end, we have migrated our server infrastructure to a new hosting provider that has allowed us to upgrade servers in a timely fashion and will allow us flexibility to respond to increased traffic over time. Over the past several months, our engineers have been working day and night to ensure these improvements go as smoothly as possible.
Andrew and Alex during the main migration to our new service provider.
The (very long) night we moved many of our servers, we were impressed by the support of the Couchsurfing community: these two Couchsurfers from Auckland (New Zealand), found a creative and kind way to inquire about the downtime – thank you for hanging in there! A huge thank you also to this compassionate member who sent us a virtual cup of coffee to stay awake – it was both much needed and very much appreciated!
Stability – Improved!
We’ve improved overall performance and dramatically reduced the number of unplanned outages. It will now, for example, be possible to copy large amounts of data from production servers for analysis/backup without bringing the site down. Our Technical Operations Manager, Sylvain explains what issues were eliminated with the migration to new servers: “Repeated network problems at our old hosting provider led to the site being unusable for 15-60 minutes several times per week. That’s no longer the case. Hardware failures required us to replace failing hardware on a monthly basis. That’s fixed. Before the move we spent ~95% of our time just keeping the site running with very little time to make improvements. One of us is always on-call and would consistently get woken up in the middle of the night 2-3 times a week as well as have their daily work interrupted several times a day. Now we spend ~90% of our time on site improvement projects with a late night (but non-emergency) alert once every month.”
We’re happy that Sylvain and his team – including Couchsurfing office dogs Albus and Buddy – will no longer be woken up in the middle of the night (at least when it comes to dealing with the site).
The table and chart below show the dramatic improvement in site stability after the night when we moved to the new hosting provider, which happened at the end of February. They also illustrate the trend of faster load times. This is an area that we are going to continue to focus on in the near future as we continue to re-architect our back end systems for scalability, security, and speed. Operations incidents correlate to downtime and general site issues that affect our members.
The recent stability improvements allow the team to focus on next steps: faster load and response times outside the United States. The code that runs our site is being updated with a focus on minimizing network latency and round trips per page – meaning faster load times everywhere.
As we announced back in the fall, we’re focused on mobile. The first version of the new mobile app – for Android and iOS – is about to go into the first testing phase. A group of Couchsurfers will participate in our beta testing efforts and we are looking forward to working together to create a mobile experience that helps travelers couchsurf from their mobile devices. More news on that in the coming weeks!
Thank you again for your tremendous patience over the past few months! Every day, we are inspired by our awesome community to push harder, improve the site and keep going to new and interesting places!