Turning Up the Volume: How We’re Scaling to Keep Pace with Our Customer Growth

Mobile engagement is one of the fastest growing ways to create memorable moments for your customers and to keep them engaged with your brand.

Urban Airship is growing quickly to meet the demand for mobile engagement and our expanding suite of products.

Our operations team is making sure we’re growing smart too, so our customers will continue to get the reliable, fast throughput and analytics they’ve come to expect from us.

Platform Volume Tripling

Urban Airship runs on a hybrid platform, combining bare metal and cloud environments to deliver our Engage, Reach, Insight and Connect products.

In the last calendar year we’ve seen Engage push notification traffic grow 300%. Even more challenging, our 24 hour peak traffic has gone from 1.0 billion push notifications to 2.3 billion push notifications.

Insight and Connect derive and analyze user-level mobile data from our Engage product, so they experience a corresponding increase when notifications grow. Reach leverages many platform services and has its own rapidly expanding growth (in fact, we’ve seen a 400 percent year-over-year increase in Reach customers).

How do we cope with this “new normal”? The operations team has several approaches that help us handle unexpected peaks — as well as ever-increasing transaction growth resulting from the twin streams of increased usage by existing customers and new customers coming on board.

No Substitute for Good Design

The strength of Urban Airship’s platform is that it is purpose-built to maximize throughput speed. We employ asynchronous processing to avoid time-consuming serial processing and utilize micro-services to avoid resource contention.

By designing our systems this way, we can easily scale horizontally. We aren’t standing still either; we are always analyzing ways to improve throughput and efficiency and remove processing bottlenecks.

Proactive Planning – It Pays to Think Ahead

Good design is important, but planning is critical to our success. Operations uses a combination of real-time performance monitoring and monthly capacity planning to anticipate transaction growth.

Working in concert with our Engineering teams, we forecast the impact of new and existing customers — especially on changing or novel use cases we have observed or are planning to be implemented.

We also estimate the impact of new features and system releases, using platform test data and customer acceptance input to calculate projected system load.

What About Those Peaks?

We usually know when to expect increases in volume – for example highly-watched sporting events (World Cup, the Olympics) and political contests. But these occasions can be highly unpredictable in terms of volume and exact timing. Breaking news by its nature is unanticipated.

To handle peaks, we plan a level of overcapacity to accommodate the unexpected — and also have system fail safe mechanisms that help prioritize incoming traffic and/or provide on-demand processing capacity to handle spikes.

We’re also developing even faster triggers to improve traffic prioritization more quickly and generating services (like Reach mobile wallet passes) on demand to lower processing time.

The Features You Want and the Ability to Deliver Your Mobile Experience

Our technology, platform scalability and planning are the reasons Urban Airship delivers! We look forward to continue to scale up to keep up with our customers’ continued growth.