Go Daddy’s relationship with Arizona State University’s College of Technology and Innovation (ASU-CTI) started three years ago when our then COO, now CEO, Warren Adelman, joined ASU-CTI’s Industry Advisory Board. He knew this relationship could influence course curriculum, and that would be good for our Industry. He also realized it would be the catalyst for an array of interactions that would eventually blossom into a well-balanced program to promote Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) in our local community.
I got involved in the Spring of 2010. Warren arranged the first meet with Executive Dean Chell Roberts, Dr. Kevin Gary, and Dr. Anshuman Razdan. They explained this great program where students, as part of a class, worked with local industry partners on a project. They now call them iProjects, short for Industry Projects.
The money spent is well worth it. Not only could it be considered a donation, but it also helps expose these students to real world issues they could face in the future. Here are a couple of examples of how it’s paying off.
2010-2011 iProject – Hosting Customer Experience Monitoring System
At Go Daddy, being the largest Web Hosting provider*, we have thousands of servers spread across several data centers around the world. As Go Daddy has grown, the task of monitoring, analyzing, and visualizing performance across the Hosting environment has become a “big data” analysis challenge. We had several federated data sources that we wanted to bring together and then provide the ultimate visualization of environment health.
- CA eHealth – polls system performance metrics from all of our servers and network equipment
- Zabbix – polls and stores additional network appliance statistics
- Gomez – polls and stores web application performance metrics
- IP Monitor – queries services for uptime and alerts on downtime
Often, when a problem occurs in our environment, many monitors alert at once and it’s challenging to differentiate between cause and effect. The students from the ASU-CTI team were tasked with creating a visualization of our Hosting Environment to help improve our Network Operation Center’s (NOC) ability to quickly pinpoint problems.
Meetings were held 3 times a week by the ASU-CTI student team. They also met with us once a week to provide status and get feedback.
The students applied Extract-Transform-Load methodology to solve the challenge. They combined MySQL, Mondrian OLAP Schema, and XMLA4JS technologies to create multi-dimensional result sets.
Because the students had limited access to Go Daddy systems, we built a standalone system using Go Daddy VPS Hosting and fed scrubbed data from our eHealth, Zabbix, Gomez, and IP Monitor systems into the centralized MySQL Database. The students took the data from there and manipulated it into the multidimensional result set.
They used FusionWidgets to visualize the result sets in a variety of formats:
Although the outcome of this project didn’t find its way immediately into our NOC, it did kick start and fuel a separate Customer Experience Monitor initiative that is now helping us to more quickly and efficiently meet our customers’ needs.
2011-2012 iProject – Web Application Performance Correlation Factors
With a fresh set of students, eager and willing, we launched another iProject for the 2011-2012 school year. This year’s goal was to determine which Web Application Performance factors were most influential.
The factors examined included Page Size, Number of Requests, CDN use, Expires Headers, Time to First Byte, Activity Time, Etags, and Time to Start to Render. There are more factors; however, these are the ones the students focused on.
We set up an environment of several VM instances on Go Daddy Cloud Servers to collect and analyze metrics gathered from WebPageTest.org. The students reached out to Pat Meenan, the Engineer behind WebPageTest.org, to request an API key so they could execute performance tests in bulk and their request was granted. Thank you Pat!
They then selected several representative sites and executed performance tests against these sites from multiple locations around the world. They pulled the raw metrics from these tests and loaded them into their own instance of ShowSlow.
The following parameters most strongly correlated with Load Time:
- First Time Byte(r=0.61)
- Activity Time(r=0.91)
- Time to start Render(r=0.64)
- Time to Base Page Complete(r=0.63)
- Time to Title(r=0.84)
The Location of the browser also played a significant role.
I wouldn’t call the output of this experiment earth-shattering, but it told us what we already knew: Performance Matters. This project reinforced this principle and gained us experience points using WebPageTest and studying Web Application Performance factors. Also, the students have acquired a skill set that is highly sought after in the Internet industry. Did I mention we have a Performance Engineering department at Go Daddy?
2012-2013 iProject – To Be Determined
We are in the planning stages of the 2012-2013 iProject. We’re very excited to see what these brilliant minds can come up with next!
I’m super happy that Go Daddy has formed this relationship with ASU-CTI. The iProjects have been a great experience and led to more involvement with our local community. It’s important for companies to give back and to promote STEM − we need more scientists and engineers. It’s a real problem and every little bit counts. I encourage you to think about yourself and the company you work for, and ask yourself, “How can we get involved?” Start small and work your way up. It adds up!
*Largest worldwide mass-market hosting provider by annual revenue. Source Tier1 Research, Mass-Market Hosting Report – Winter 2011.