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Q&A with Hal Higdon

Each week, coach and author, Hal Higdon answers your questions about running. Here's the latest:

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Wednesday
Aug152012

Gear's Thoughts: Scaling For The Future

In case you haven't noticed, we've been experiencing some growing pains. I wanted to inform everyone on what's going on and explain why we've experienced some downtime recently.

In a nutshell, we're growing fast, we've done some internal reorganization of teams, and parts of our IT infrastructure were reaching their limits. We decided to make a major change in our technology in order to keep up with our growth.  It is a multi-faceted approach, but for those that want to know, we're transitioning our device-file storage to a new database technology called Mongo, while also moving our servers and infrastructure to a cloud-based provider.  These are changes we have to do now in order to ensure better service, scalability, and reliability for the future.

Unfortunately, when there are so many moving parts in a system, and a lot of new team members and transitioning roles and responsibilities, it becomes difficult to avoid hiccups. We've had our share of glitches recently, and I am sorry for the frustration that it has caused to you, our customers. You've been incredibly patient and appreciative of the steps we're taking, and I sincerely thank you for your understanding. That said, we've hit a few bumps in the road as our cache provider, auto-failover systems and network communications haven't wanted to play nice as we handle the "in-between" mode of the transition. But, we're good at wrangling penguins and bits, and the trust we've built over the years is the most important asset we have; as stewards of your data, we are taking great care to make sure things go smoothly. You can rest assured that your data was never at risk, lost, or missing.

We've had to change and migrate technologies many many times in the past 12 years, it's part of the territory when you are a web cloud-based software provider - this process is part of what's known as "paying off technical debt." Our staff has grown considerably also, making for a two-fold challenge.  As internet technologies and networking platforms have matured considerably over recent years, we've chosen to take advantage of these better systems now rather than wait and hit a major roadblock in the future that leaves us dead in the water. It's all about scaling for the future: both our technology and our company. 

This process will continue for some time, and while we will always do our best to provide uninterrupted service, I humbly ask for your continued patience as we work through the changes. We know our customers, being all over the world and being as serious about your training as you are, are in the system 24/7. We know you rely on it to complete daily, weekly and yearly training goals. We'll minimize downtime as much as possible, and keep diligent watch over the systems to catch possible errors before they get to you. 

Finally, you'll also notice that we're slowing down our pace of new development in order to focus on bug fixes and performance for a few months. Bug squashing and regression testing efforts have been incorporated on a weekly schedule with cross-departmental efforts to improve your user experience. Our plan is to make sure we deliver the best and most reliable service possible to our customers - nothing short of what you would expect from us. 

I really appreciate your patience and as always, if you want to know more or have questions or comments, feel free to leave them here or email me directly: gear (at-sign) trainingpeaks (dot) com.

-Gear

Reader Comments (6)

Gear,
Thanks for the explanation. I've wondered what was going on. Please do your best to keep it running on Sundays. That's when we post the training plans for all of our athletes, and we've always been able to keep our promise of on-time plans.
Bes,
Ashley Halsey
Kinetic Motion
kmotionsports.com

August 15, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAshley Halsey

As a coach with a number of athletes, I decided to use TP, and it is not a simple step to take, as I have had to make quite a change in the way I operate my business. I think if you are going to make fairly large scale changes, it would be a good practice to warn your customers that their is the possibility of an interruption to service. I find the comment "You've been incredibly patient and appreciative of the steps we're taking, and I sincerely thank you for your understanding" a little comical, as it is not like we had a choice in the matter, and I certainly did not appreciate having no warning, or having my work severely interrupted.

August 15, 2012 | Unregistered Commentertonyoh

@Tonyoh Unfortunately, we don't have warning either, the outages have occurred not during maintenance periods, rather, unplanned issues arose for various reasons.

August 16, 2012 | Registered Commentertrainingpeaks

Gear, Thanks for keeping us in the loop and thanks for continuing to work on improving TP. Speeding up the site will definitely have a big effect on my ability to service my clients better, so I'm looking forward to the upcoming improvements.

August 20, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKevin Coady

Agile, Big Data, Cloud: a 21st-century company in the making! I have faith in your capability to pull off this transition. And if you do, you will succeed in future-proofing your services, just as you say.

August 20, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMark V. McDonnell

Why did you release something that was not ready? I agree with tonyoh - this is very unprofessional that you did not tell us or give us a warning. I don't buy it that you had no warning yourself that this change was not going to impact the end user. Really? I guess the proof will be in the pudding if we stick around for future upgrades.

August 30, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterBrentCA

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