Live Blogging with Amazon S3

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Live Blogging with Amazon S3

Yesterday’s live blogging of the WWDC keynote was a big success. Within the span of about 2 hours we received 20k visitors. Tyler did a great job of posting text and photo updates as they happened, thanks to his Verizon Wireless V740 ExpressCard.

Our main objective was to test the viability of using S3 as a platform for live blogging of events. Having watched sites like Mac Rumors struggle with this kind of service, we were curious to see how Amazon Web Services would handle the load, and how much it would cost.

We built a simple administration tool for managing Tyler’s text posts and image uploads. Every time Tyler would post new information, it would rebuild a local copy of the html files, then upload them to S3 into our live.sitening.com bucket. The live blog page contained a javascript timer to refresh the text and image content every 15 seconds, which allowed for smooth updates, as well as keeping in line with the Google Adwords terms of use, which restrict the use of auto refresh on ad pages.

Event Stats:

  • 7 pictures
  • 130 text posts
  • 20k visits
  • 50k pageviews to the page
  • 5M requests – this includes the 15 second content refresh and the images.
  • 47GB of transfer
  • content was 17k, images were 200k.

Cost for the event: $10.

We saw absolutely no performance degradation. The content remained quick and responsive throughout the event. S3 is an obvious choice for live blogging, given its capacity and cost effectiveness. Because it was so successful, we are continuing development of our live blogging platform, which we are expanding to support low framerate video with javascript and rapid image uploads.

Update 6/15/07

Macrumorslive did a fantastic job this year, my reference above was to previous events by many sites where providing this type of service has been a challenge. Macrumors is currently using Amazon web services, and they have handled up to 390,000 visitors with their current system. Great job!

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