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Technology / AI and automation

Case study: F5 technology provides the right ingredients for recipe website

Esmee Williams

A recipe website that gets 700 million hits per year says it can provide a fast, reliable service over a variety of platforms because of F5 technology.

Washington-based Allrecipes.com is the world’s largest digital food brand, with sites and apps serving more than 34 million home cooks in 22 countries every month.

Allrecipes.com relies on F5 products to manage its high amount of traffic and to provide high availability and fast-loading web pages.

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Business Challenges

The website is a global community and social network with 20 million unique users a month searching and share recipes, photos, entertainment ideas, and food advice.

The site contains user-created and shared recipes, and the organisation maintains websites in 17 countries and also creates food apps for mobile devices, a fast-growing market due to the significant increase in tablet computers and similar devices.

To stay ahead of its competitors and continue attracting new users, Allrecipes must ensure high availability and fast page load times around the clock worldwide for its sites. "We provide easy access to content to people reliably, at all hours of the day on all types of devices, so they’ll keep coming back to the site," says Esmee Williams, VP of brand marketing for Allrecipes.com.

Prior to 2006, Allrecipes.com maintained availability and performance by providing network load balancing functionality through ArrowPoint devices.

But when ArrowPoint was bought by Cisco, Allrecipes.com decided it was time to explore new technology solutions.

Solution

The company settled with F5, calling it the industry standard, and in late 2006 implemented two or more F5 BIG-IP Local Traffic Manager (LTM) devices in each of its four data centres.

The organisation then implemented two F5 BIG-IP Global Traffic Manager (GTM) devices in two of the data centres.

BIG-IP LTM gives Allrecipes.com intelligent traffic management and high availability for the multiple servers housed in its four data centres.

The devices perform health checks for the organization’s web servers and route web traffic based on network and server conditions.

"It would be impossible to serve our customers without BIG-IP LTM and BIG-IP GTM," explained Scotty Carreiro, IT project director for the website. "These devices enable us to deliver our website without problems 24 hours a day."

Delivers updated content fast

Allrecipes.com offers users high performance, in part because it can offload tasks from its servers to the F5 devices, reducing the processing load on the servers. The website can also use iRules to redirect IP traffic and further speed up response times.

This helps it cope at peak times, such as Thanksgiving in the US and the month of December, when people share and search for recipes and party ideas for Christmas.

Carreiro said: "We need to have the right technology infrastructure to handle all of our seasonal traffic spikes.

"If our pages aren’t loaded in one second, users are already hovering over the back button in their browser.

"Anything more than that and they’re probably back to Google to do a new search. We can’t allow that to happen if we want to provide the best user experience possible.

"Whether home cooks are accessing Allrecipes on a laptop in Seattle or on a smartphone in Asia, they are getting the same fast, reliable experience because of F5 technology."

Offers easily managed environment

BIG-IP LTM and BIG-IP GTM also contain a web-based graphical user interface (GUI) designed to simplify configuration and ease management of the products.

"Both BIG-IP LTM and BIG-IP GTM are very easy for me to manage," said Carreiro. "The GUI gives me excellent visibility into traffic consumption, and I can also easily distribute configuration information to the web server teams. It makes my job simpler."

Additionally, he benefits from F5 support. "F5 is a leader in the field not only in terms of the technology but also the great 24/7 support," he said.

"That combination gives us the confidence we need."
This article is from the CBROnline archive: some formatting and images may not be present.