Scalability In Action: And Why Buy Beats Build!
One question that we’re often asked at Swrve is “why don’t I build this myself?”
Although I’ve often wondered why nobody asks the same question about word processors, spreadsheets, hardware and office space, as SaaS vendors we just have to accept that this kind of enquiry comes with the territory and deal with it. And to be truthful, there are some reasons why the question does make sense, or perhaps more specifically there’s one: you get to specify exactly what you build.
But in amongst the many, many reasons why you’re better off buying a solution (like Swrve!) is one that is often ignored but might just be the one that matters most: the ability to handle scale.
This was brought home to me dramatically when we launched a title (which shall remain nameless) with a major international app business recently. This app went from zero to 2.5m DAU in a matter of days (and is now in fact over 4.5m DAU), which is both impressive but also not unheard of. It is the kind of growth that a mobile marketing automation system needs to be able to handle.
And that’s not the whole story. A mobile marketing platform is only as effective as the information it collects, and in this particular case that means 3.5 billion events per day - which is 40,000 events per second! That’s a lot of data to collect, process and store, but it’s precisely because this data is collected that the app is then able to monetize so successfully. Right now this title is seeing users on average making an in-app purchase (with virtual currency) ever 10 seconds.
As an enterprise system ready to handle these volumes without any loss in service or performance, we were able to grow with this title and ensure that at no stage did the platform act as a limit to growth. But would that be true of an in-house system? The answer is almost certainly not. We know from lengthy experience that whilst creating features is (relatively) easy, getting those same features to scale is most definitely hard!
What you’re often likely to come across is the nightmare scenario - just as your title takes off in the way you had always hoped, you find the infrastructure supporting it falls over. Although that won’t necessarily take your app with it (in fact it very much shouldn’t) it has the potential to mean that all that traffic is essentially for nothing - you have neither the insight nor the ability to do anything about retaining and monetizing those users.
Worse again, organizations in the situation of suddenly having such success tend not to have the time to focus on getting their analytics and marketing back up and running. It’s not the last thing on the list, but it’s somewhere close to it. That’s why it pays to be sure you are ‘ready to scale’
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