Building Scalable Apps for Boy Bands! #OneDirection

772,000 Viewers. 10.7 Million playbacks. 483 years of watch time. 15 million social mentions, 30,000 news articles, 800,000 G+ Followers. An app with 630,000 unique users in 10 hours, and peaking at 9,000 queries per second. That’s what happens when you work with boy bands…

You’re probably familiar with the boy band One Direction (screams), and to celebrate the release of their ‘Midnight memories’ album, they wanted to host the world’s largest live streamed event! It was called ‘One Direction Day’

The band’s goal was to keep the fans engaged throughout the seven hours of the screencast, and one of the ways to do this was to have a quiz — where, every 10 minutes, new questions would be added. It would be a massive exercise in Cloud Scalability, and we had less than three weeks to build it!

Think about how you would architect something like this? You could build the capacity to have hundreds of thousands of people online, answering questions, writing answers to a db to keep score etc. But, they wouldn’t be spread out — everybody would hit at the same time, and then be idle for 10 minutes, and then hit again, on and off over the course of the day. You could build for estimated peak capacity, but then be idle for 90%+ of the time…effectively paying for nothing most of the time. Or, you could use cloud — and a cloud technology + well engineered app that scales up when you need it, and then back down when you don’t, so you only get charged for what you use.

So Sony chose Google App Engine, and I was lucky enough to be the architect and main programmer. I shared my experiences building this app at dotScale in Paris. Check out the video above, or read the case study to learn more about the stats!