Drowned in Sound

Drowned in Sound website

Drowned In Sound (DiS) was started in 2000 by Sean Adams and is one of the largest independent music communities in the UK. In 2009 it was voted 9th out the top 25 websites by the Observer. It has user driven content covering gigs and reviews with an extremely active members board. The site receives around 30K unique visitors daily and has contributors from all over the globe.

The site is built with Ruby On Rails served by a cluster on 8 Thin servers behind an Nginx front end.

Cenatus took on a number of responsibilities:

  • Develop new functionality for the site, including a simplified redesign for the 10th anniversary.
  • Complete existing unfinished development work
  • Configure a proper testing server and workflow to allow signoff before pushing amendments to the live system
  • Troubleshoot performance problems with the system
  • Fix outstanding bugs
  • Document existing systems including feed ingestion, nightly jobs, server configurations etc.

We achieved all the items under our remit and have made inroads to stabilise the system – the site became frequently unusable before our input. Outstanding performance problems have been identified and are to be undertaken later in 2010 along with more of the front end redesign. The site is a mature system which always represents a host of challenges and there’s an extremely large amount of database content which required creative solutions when setting up local and testing environments.

Investigating the performance issues solidified exposure to scalability problems including load balancers, proxies and various caching strategies.

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