"Four months ago we spent more time on maintenance. Now we are doing a lot more innovation. Chef is exceeding our expectations and we are looking forward to leveraging Chef for future projects." Ian Meyer, Technical Operations Manager
Admeld, a New York-based company that processes more than 40 billion ad transactions each month across six data centers around the world, was designing every server it employed and wrote every line of code in house, by hand. As the company grew (and continues to grow), increased demands were made on its infrastructure, particularly in maintenance and manageability. As their infrastructure grew beyond a handful of servers to hundreds, manual updates became an intractable problem. As more servers were brought online, Admeld needed infrastructure automation to handle the sheer volume of updates, file movement and the addition of new developers.
Admeld's Technical Operations department deployed Chef. Chef is a server configuration management automation engine that lets IT managers express the design of the company infrastructure in code, affording the benefits of repeatability, agility and version-control. Further, Chef serves as a centrally managed data store for information about company servers and can execute dynamic, "infrastructure aware," actions across any portion of a given environment. Those integrations enabled Admeld to scale more quickly and better manage its servers (including adding developers), dramatically saving both time and money.
Admeld is a New York-based technology company with ofﬁces in London, Berlin and Toronto. Since its launch in 2007, its goal has been to keep premium publishers on the cutting edge of advertising technology, enabling them to maximize their revenue and sell their inventory smarter and safer. Their platform connects clients with hundreds of Demand Side Platforms (DSP), agency trading desks, and ad networks.
The company custom-designed each of its servers and created all of its own speciﬁc code to provide its clients superior access to demand, audience insight, inventory controls, private exchange and client support. For example, to install a new data package, all property ﬁles had to be conﬁgured manually with a set-up time of two to three days. Even simply adding new developers was a time-consuming and resourcing-draining task.
Ian Meyer, Admeld technical operations manager, had previously used Chef, the world’s ﬁrst and only software-as-a- service (SaaS) platform for automated infrastructure deployment and conﬁguration management. He found them to have “great advances” over other tools, including CFEngine and Puppet, by offering speed, scale, agility and operational elegance.
“Prior to deploying Chef,” said Meyer, “we did everything manually. It generally took me a couple of weeks to get access to the servers I needed and at least a day to add a new developer. With Opscode [Chef], I can now add a couple of developers within 20 minutes. Additionally, when we set up a new ad serving system with data bags, the set-up time goes from two to three days to an hour. This is simply one of those tools that you need regardless of what your environment is.”
Meyer’s favorite feature in the tool arsenal is Chef’s command-line management interface, Knife. “We use Knife to alter the nodes run-list, to update roles and update data bags,” he says. “I’m a command-line person, so this is right up my alley.”
Going forward, the company has its sights set on an infrastructure clean-up and a capacity increase, including the opening of other data centers, fueled by the company’s exponential growth. Even though Admeld operates on a stable infrastructure, Meyer and his department are able to better manage platform conﬁguration, set up new developers, and scale up server growth with ease using Chef.
With Chef, Admeld is poised and ready for the future.
“At ﬁrst the team was reluctant,” concluded Meyer. “And now they see the beneﬁt. Chef speaks for itself.”