Case Study

Linode solves Sensr.net's bandwidth, load balancing, and uptime challenges for one-third the cost of AWS.

Sensr.net's cloud-based video monitoring platform makes it easy for people to view, share and store video feeds from Internet-enabled cameras. With Sensr.net, a user can monitor webcam feeds from anywhere on any Web-connected device. Motion-detection algorithms are applied to each feed, providing an automatic form of surveillance. Sensr.net can notify individuals through text message alerts if a monitored area—such as a store window or back door—has been opened. Sensr.net also provides a social element to its service that enables users share camera views on Twitter or Facebook. Sensr.net even provides a widget that allows users to easily embed a live stream of their webcam on their website or blog.

The company is the brainchild of CEO Adam Beguelin, who came up with the idea for the company while monitoring his Nevada home over the Internet during a yearlong sabbatical in Vietnam with his family.

Around the world, homeowners, municipalities, businesses such as Mission: Cats, Norway Boats, and Miami Kiteboarding, and even competitions like The Great Pacific Race have used Sensr.net. Pangea Real Estate, for example, uses hundreds of cameras on Sensr.net to monitor its apartment complexes in the United States. Moreover, the Pangea IT team uses the Sensr.net API to build custom interfaces for those cameras.

Challenge

Sensr.net needed its virtual servers to be able to handle large amounts of traffic and incoming data with minimal downtime, while being able to scale its servers on the fly. It needed assistance as needed from a responsive customer support, and predictable pricing.

Solution

Linode provided Sensr.net unlimited bandwidth for incoming data, customized DNS options, scheduled backups, immediate cloning, and an intuitive API to facilitate server allocation and scaling.

Results

Linode has exceeded all Sensr.net's performance, service and support expectations and done so with predictable pricing.

"Linode's performance is amazing and is improving all the time…(it is) an even more affordable choice and an invaluable resource for our business." Adam Beguelin, CEO Sensr.net.

Situation:

Sensr.net captures video 24/7 from thousands of cameras across the globe. Its tech-savvy customers generally deploy several cameras, some setting up as many as 800. From those cameras, Sensr.net handles 70 million uploads every day and accordingly needs to process a great deal of video—nearly half as much as that processed by YouTube. For every two terabytes of incoming data Sensr.net processes, four gigabytes of data is sent out. Handling this digital load can be a challenge for any server.

All of the visual data necessitates abundant bandwidth, especially for incoming feeds. The most recent 30 days of video for every customer is stored in the cloud, with still-shot screen captures that enable users to quickly sort through and review footage. In 2008, as Beguelin and his colleagues began evaluating solutions for their Web-hosting and cloud-computing needs, they determined bandwidth capacity as mission critical.

Challenge:

Initially, Sensr.net considered ramping up its own on-site servers to manage the hosting themselves. Sensr.net quickly deemed this idea impractical because it would have demanded constant oversight and diligent maintenance and commensurate costs. With the expected growth of the business, Sensr.net needed a cloud host that not only could handle huge amounts of incoming data and traffic, but also could allow Sensr.net to scale server needs on the fly while guaranteeing minimal downtime, providing responsive just-in-time support with affordable, pay-as-you-grow pricing.

"We considered using Amazon Web Services (AWS) for cloud hosting but we ultimately found it to be too complicated and expensive to use," said Beguelin. "AWS didn't seem to meet Sensr.net's needs as a small but growing company, so we looked elsewhere. We found that we get more performance and value out of Linode, and it's much easier to use."

Solution:

In January 2009, Sensr.net chose Linode to handle its hosting needs. Linode offered comprehensive cloud hosting, a proven track record, an affordable price, and perhaps most important, unlimited incoming bandwidth. Because of this latter advantage, going forward, Sensr.net would be able to effectively allocate its server capacity. This negated the concern over the variability and risk typically associated with handling disproportionate amounts of incoming video from customer webcams around the globe.

Knowing its infrastructure needs were met, Sensr.net was soon up and running. "Linode's API is excellent," said Beguelin. "It's very intuitive and we were able to set up what we needed very quickly with minimal fuss. This was especially helpful when deploying our new servers, allowing us to scale as much as we needed."

The fact that Beguelin and others at Sensr.net have a strong background in Linux was an added bonus. "Linode lets you choose which version of Linux to run," he said. "This meant we didn't need to learn a new programming environment. If you have a favorite version of Linux, you can use that, so we were able to simply carry-on as usual."

Sensr.net appreciates many of the features that come with Linode's hosting solution. To accommodate its many customers and their thousands of webcams, Sensr.net requires custom DNS options and takes advantage of Linode's DNS service. Sensr.net also values the ongoing backups that ensure data remains safe. Another important feature to Sensr.net is cloning. "The ability to clone servers essentially gives us ‘servers on demand," said Beguelin, "so we can instantly scale our hosting efforts whenever necessary."

Linode's customer support team and its multiple datacenters located in North America, Europe and Asia have further contributed to Sensr.net's solution,. "You can allocate servers for traffic based on location, which minimizes latency issues. It's really helpful," Beguelin said.

Linode's control panel and various tools also give Sensr.net insight into its servers' needs. With these metrics in hand, Sensr.net optimizes system performance and averts crippling downtime by using redundant servers and NodeBalancers, which smartly distribute incoming traffic.

Results:

According to Beguelin, Linode has exceeded all his company's expectations, including performance, price, service and support. Beguelin estimated that compared to AWS, Linode has saved Sensr.net at least 33 percent on operational costs.

"Using Linode has pretty much guaranteed our site is operating at all times - running smoothly and efficiently," said Beguelin. "Linode's performance is amazing and is improving all the time. In fact, our cost-per-camera has fallen, making Linode an even more affordable choice and an invaluable resource for our business.

"We have grown our company from the beginning with Linode. It's the perfect hosting solution no matter what size your company is. Performance and support are exceptional and Linode makes it easy to scale resources as your needs grow, meaning that there are no unexpected surprises when it comes to price. Anyone looking for an excellent and reliable hosting solution need not look any further than Linode."