Sometimes, it takes a wrong turn to help set you on the right path.
That’s exactly what happened at Advanced Micro Devices, Inc. (AMD), a worldwide semiconductor company based in Sunnyvale, Calif. When the company realized it needed a highly responsive website that didn’t have a lot of overhead for getting content on the web, it believed that implementing web software and hosting it in-house was the way to go.
The company quickly learned it needed to adjust its approach.
“It turned out to be a crazy set of challenges,” says Jim Trudeau, Senior Manager of Developer Outreach at AMD. The team uses its site developer.amd.com to present information to developers and to host software packages. The site is used to market and promote developers and software development tools, but hosting it all in-house was just too much to handle.
The problem, Trudeau says, was finding a way to get large downloads distributed globally. And, to have those downloads be available on a site that AMD didn’t have to maintain.
It is a two-fold lesson for IT managers and leaders. The first lesson revealed that sometimes, taking on too many tasks with in-house servers demands too much employee effort for a solution that is just adequate, at best. Second, if you don’t get a solution correct the first time around, it’s never too late to reevaluate your course and take a new approach.
With self-hosting, AMD had to do all the IT heavy lifting on its own. For example, its IT administrators had to address backups, security, website performance, website scaling and upgrades to the web software, when it would have been more productive for these IT folks to focus on projects that could really move the company forward. The site also went down frequently, which disrupted workplace productivity.
“We found the challenges that came with hosting a service was just not a priority,” Trudeau says. “Making sure the network was working for us was becoming a distraction.”
Trudeau says AMD also needed a solution with more power behind it. Its site was getting 250,000 to 300,000 unique visitors each month and a lot of people were downloading software. “Our content delivery network was clearly insufficient,” Trudeau says.
After comparing several vendors and possible solutions, they turned to WP Engine, a hosted service provider specifically tailored to WordPress websites and applications, which reduced the company’s cost for hosting and providing infrastructure by 50 percent. Furthermore, AMD’s content delivery network improved drastically and helped it focus on supporting and cultivating software development.
To be sure, there are still occasional glitches with the hosted service provider, Trudeau says, but the way these are handled, with instant notifications and quick remedies, speak volumes for the solution. The company also routinely offers up solutions to problems before a customer might have an opportunity to request one, Trudeau explains.
AMD recently switched from a single server to a couple of load-balanced web servers and hasn’t been disappointed. In fact, when the company saw traffic reach five times its normal volume, due to favorable coverage of AMD’s technology in the bitcoin mining world, the website continued on without a blip.
“We simply could not have done that with our internally hosted servers,” Trudeau says.
Renee Morad is a freelance writer and editor based in New Jersey. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, Discovery News, Business Insider, Ozy.com, NPR, MainStreet.com, and other outlets. If you have a story you would like profiled, contact her at [email protected].
The IT Innovators series of articles is underwritten by Microsoft, and is editorially independent.