SugarWOD just got faster, stronger, and more flexible!
Important Note: By January 15, 2017, all your SugarWOD mobile apps must be updated to use our new infrastructure! For iOS users, you must update to version 3.5.0 (released September 2016) or higher. For Android users, you must update to version 2.3.0 (released August 2016) or higher. The sugarwod.com coach's website has already been updated and is not affected.
We recently shared our story about how and why we created SugarWOD. (If you haven’t had a chance, you can read it here.) In short, it's our passion to deliver world-class workout tools for the CrossFit community. In the past few months, we took several big technology steps in pursuit of this goal!
From the beginning, we developed SugarWOD on the world’s largest, most reliable, cloud-computing platform, Amazon Web Services (AWS). This is the same infrastructure that powers the internet's biggest brands including Netflix, AirBnB, Spotify, and thousands of others.
But, like some of you, we initially chose an all-in-one solution to help with the complexity of using AWS. That solution, Parse.com, is a good one—so good that Facebook bought it about 2 years ago!
This all-in-one approach served us well for a while. But, in order to innovate quickly and deliver a stellar experience for our athletes and customers, we knew our development team needed to have best-in-class tools available to them.
So, we are excited to announce that we recently made a huge leap forward in our technology—one that improves the capacity of SugarWOD so we can grow at an even faster pace to keep up with the volume of new athletes and engagement happening in SugarWOD every day. (Have you seen our latest numbers!?!?)
In the spirit of sharing our journey with our customers, we’re going to dive a bit deeper into this latest upgrade to share how and why we made the change we did. Get ready; I am about to geek out.
What Did We Do?
Software infrastructure is bit like insurance; it is a terrifically un-exciting topic until it really, really matters. Given that, we took this project very seriously with a goal of building a platform that will allow us to innovate and serve this community for a long time to come.
Starting this past in May, we invested three months and dedicated two full-time developers (woot Jonathan!) to research, design, and build our new technical infrastructure. This infrastructure now includes world-class components for our database (mLab.com), app hosting (heroku.com), payments (stripe.com), search (algolia.com), email (mailchimp.com), and many others. Each of these components was chosen because of their strength in providing a single important service for our overall workout solution. Each are top-tier solutions in their respective area.
In August, we moved our sugarwod.com website and web app over. In early September we migrated our Android mobile app users (~25% of you). By late September, we had released an updated iOS app and brought over everyone else. Despite a few late nights baby-sitting servers and databases, everything came off without a hitch! Well, maybe a couple of "hitches", but we recovered quickly before anyone noticed 😉
It was important to us to do this update with little or no impact on our customers. This wasn't always easy. Changing the infrastructure of a software product with hundreds of thousands of users it is somewhat like changing the engines on a plane mid-flight!
We're really pleased that very few of you even noticed this entire project happened.
Why the Move?
If you’ve talked to the co-founder of SugarWOD, Drew, about his philosophy on “all-in-one” versus “best-in-class”, you know that we don't like compromises and we believe each component of your gym's overall system should be the very best. So, we took the necessary steps to practice what we preach.
The all-in-one solution made things a bit easier for us since we didn’t have to build integrations between all of our systems. But, when Facebook announced they would be closing the Parse platform in January 2017, we took it as the perfect opportunity to level up our product and create the best user experience possible.
This is all good for you because it gives us more control over the levers and gears that power SugarWOD. This means our service is more secure, reliable and scalable.
For instance, we are now better prepared to accommodate the unique usage patterns of CrossFitters, like the influx of traffic we experience in the evenings (see above), or the increase in workout logging at the beginning of the week.
That means that if you want to log into SugarWOD twenty times, in the evening, to see how many people you beat at the workout today, you can! And, so can all of your friends.
The more traffic, the better!
Drew and the team made all of these changes with no product downtime. Because of the increased flexibility of our technology, we were able to make a huge shift without impacting our users. It’s awesome!
But, it’s bigger than the technology. What I want to express is that our customers are important to us. Our promise to you is that we will continue to build and fine tune the best technology to support you, your coaches, and your athletes. And, we will continue to keep you in the loop as we grow.
If you have questions or are curious to know more about the details of our latest upgrade, let us know.