Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Serving our own Food

Have you heard the phrase "eat your own dog food" as applied to the technology business? If you expect your dog to eat it, you should eat it too. Which means, use your own software, if you expect other people to use it!

We do this, at Five Across, and our business is practically run on the collaboration and file sharing that is provided by our Bubbler Instant Messenger application.

But yesterday we made a more important transition: now we're serving our own dog food too.

We moved our main site from Apache to our own Five Across web server. So the whole site is served by our web server, not just the blogs themselves. It is how we structure the product for our OEM customers, so we use it too.

This is a "transition" because we built out the web site before our own software was ready, so we had two sites (, which was powered by Verio, and, which was our blog hosting server). Now the whole thing is powered by our Five Across Web Platform, and it's performing beautifully. It handles server-side includes. It handles multiple IP addresses per server. It is a total replacement for Apache, yet it does way more. Blogs, file serving, podcasting, instant messaging -- all built directly into the web server itself--compiled C code, blazingly fast. It's THOUSANDS of times faster and more scalable than our competition, scripted things like Moveable Type. Perhaps 10's of thousands. We're planning to do some performance benchmarking soon.

This is getting to be really fun.


Underneath the hood of our "fastest blogging engine in the world" is in fact an engine. We built our own web server from scratch, and it is massively parallel and breathes fire. We weren't sure exactly how fast it was, but we knew it was pretty fast...

One of our OEM's, about to be announced, happens to be expert in web servers, and routinely deploy several different ones--Apache, of course, but also some more innovative high-performance servers. They benchmarked our server with some sophisticated test tools as part of the evaluation process...

Our server can handle roughly 600 times the traffic load that Apache can handle. We were clocking about 6 million hits a second across 20,000 parallel users. That's cooking with gas.

And we don't even sell it as a web server. It's just the engine on which we build lots of innovative services like blogging, podcasting, file sharing, etc.

What I think this means is that if you're considering offering a blogging service, you may need to buy one piece of hardware to run our solution, or 600 pieces of hardware to handle a comparable load with Apache. Except that the test wasn't of Perl scripts running through CGI, it was flat HTML serving. So maybe multiply that number by another 1,000 or so.

If you can't tell, I'm proud of our server. Put simply, it kicks butt.

Monday, August 01, 2005


Last week our new OEM partner launched a great new community site called Livewire, powered entirely by the Five Across Server and our publishing and messaging client applications.

I am especially proud of our web server, which serves their entire site and is wickedly fast, handling large amounts of traffic as well as driving the blog/site hosting. We are benchmarking much, much faster than Apache and able to handle far more concurrent transactions, which is cool. And it runs great on FreeBSD, the OS of choice for our OEM partner.

The Livewire team have a great vision for their service and we're working hard with them to make it a success. I encourage you to check it out.

And if you have a dream of creating and launching a blog hosting service, a social networking site, or giving your customer base a place to comment, share ideas, blog, or communicate--drop me a line. That's what we do.