Sacra Logo

What is the infrastructure stack behind Wistia and what roles do CDNs and Mux play in it?

Ben Ruedlinger

Technical Fellow at Wistia

Ben: Brendan was building the first versions of the systems back in the 2007 timeframe. The landscape was radically different then in terms of infrastructure. S3—Amazon's simple storage service—had been out, and they were just starting to introduce EC2, but it was very limited. There were some other cloud hosting providers that were coming out, but there certainly weren't any of the higher level services that we think of today with regard to infrastructure or video.

What that meant was that, as we wanted to build a video service and build different capabilities, we had to do that ourselves. There was no Zencoder, or Mux, or any of those players back in that timeframe. Even the basic core level video encoding -- which is a key thing that's necessary for anybody doing anything with online video, whether they know it or not -- we have our own encoding service that we've built, extended and maintained for the past 13 or 14 years that is now at a scale that is mind-boggling. Last time I calculated, we process about 1% of the amount of minutes of video that YouTube processes, which for a business video service is pretty impressive given that YouTube is one of the top five internet destinations in the world. So we've had to really scale that.

Same thing with things like analytics. We use Mux's data product for performance data. We were probably one of their first five customers for that product. We use that largely to evaluate performance: how video is performing out in the field to help us debug when we see issues and figure out what's going on.

The other side of analytics is what we would call more customer-facing analytics. I don't know how familiar you are with our analytics offerings, but we track how every person watches every video down to the second. That's a lot of data. We built that out back in 2008/2009 and now have scaled it massively. We've had to build a very advanced analytics data pipeline in order to handle that, make that data available whenever and wherever people need it, and process it effectively in real-time, such that it's available to people and actionable in terms of making business decisions based on it.

On the CDN side, over the years we've used a variety of CDNs and made sure that we had good coverage all over the world. Early on, there was a number of different CDNs that were good at different things. Some were better at domestic delivery. Some were good at international delivery or APAC delivery. Some were good at solving the more "nooks and crannies" problem of people in rural areas in far-away places. Each CDN had a different flavor to it.

As time has gone on, a couple of things have happened. There's been more consolidation in the industry and more commoditization. As that's happened, that has allowed us to go more and more up-market. Today, we use largely a combination of Akamai and Fastly for our CDN delivery. We try to keep things as simple and generic as possible to give us flexibility. We've always used multiple CDNs for redundancy and to give us the ability, if there are any issues, whether it's regional or overall with one of those networks, to dynamically adjust and make changes to support the changing situation on the ground. Back to the commoditization part, it also gives us some amount of negotiating power as we're continuing to grow and increase commitment levels and contract sizes and things like that. The more locked in you are with a single vendor, the more challenging it is to get leverage there and get the best pricing.

Find this answer in Ben Ruedlinger, CINO at Wistia, on the video hosting infrastructure stack
lightningbolt_icon Unlocked Report