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How Rabbit Grew to Reach a Worldwide Audience

In the connected world, the greatest advantage we have is reaching out and communicating instantaneously with friends, family, and coworkers anywhere on the planet. Sharing a moment with a loved one on the other side of the globe is a moment worth cherishing.

Rabbit, the popular social sync-viewing platform, is built for real-time connections wherever people are in the world. Developed and deployed in a unique hybrid cloud environment at MacStadium, Rabbit is designed to grow easily as more and more users around the world share experiences together on the platform.

The specific use case that we’re trying to solve right now is allowing groups of friends to watch movies together—to be together—like they would be if they were sitting in their living room together.

Michael Temkin

CEO, Rabbit

The Challenge

How does one develop for a need that doesn’t exist yet? At Rabbit, that question pushed the small, dedicated team of employees to build something truly original. “Rabbit’s unique feature is giving people the ability to watch anything together independent of physical location,” described Rabbit CEO, Michael Temkin.

Rabbit’s vision for allowing people around the globe to collaborate or binge-watch favorite shows together creates a unique infrastructure challenge. Behind the scenes, creating a platform that handled many customers accessing a seamless interface without breaking user experience under heavy load was difficult. Developing their vision meant first finding an infrastructure provider to host it and meet future demands.

The engineering team at Rabbit tried several popular public and private cloud services, but “none of those provided us the ability to customize the solution and hardware to fit our needs”, noted Tim Zaitsev, Director of Engineering at Rabbit, “…the networking, power, and ability to modify and test the different pieces we needed,” weren’t available at a one-size-fits-all hosting provider to support their Rabbitcast™ feature, the synchronous content-sharing differentiator.

Rabbit’s software was originally developed to run on Apple Mac hardware to take advantage of the high resolution graphics capabilities. The engineers needed a provider of dedicated Mac mini hardware to deploy a scalable development environment for rapid testing and iteration. Growth and direction in a brand new industry weren’t sure things, though, and the company needed reassurances of scalability and platform flexibility wherever they ended up so access to enterprise infrastructure was also beneficial. With these goals in mind, only MacStadium met all of their requirements.

The Solution

“The initial conversation with MacStadium was a very good one in the sense that their team was really willing to make sure that everything we needed was taken care of in the data center,” stated Zaitsev. MacStadium’s innovative engineers, led by founder, Jason Michaud, worked closely with Rabbit’s engineering team to develop a reproducible model for Rabbit’s scaling requirements in early development and testing. “The Mac ‘mini-as-a-service’ model was really helpful for us to be able to focus on creating the solution rather than worrying about the data center, the power, the networking, and that is something that we still value today,” added Zaitsev.

Beginning with a single Mac mini, Rabbit’s developers iterated and built an application that could scale with MacStadium’s unique Mac platform. Zaitsev spoke to the ease of scaling at MacStadium, “We were able to customize the solution and we’ve built it up ever since.”

After successfully deploying on the Mac mini platform, Rabbit reached a limit of scale due to density of service on Mac mini’s as more users accessed the platform worldwide. Complementing the need for additional scalability, MacStadium’s delivery of a traditional non-Mac server infrastructure was an ideal next step.

Rabbit worked with MacStadium engineers to launch a new solution on HP Blade Server infrastructure utilizing the same enterprise-class network but with higher cost density. Zaitsev iterated that, “the Mac mini’s enabled us to move rapidly to create a technology that worked. Since then we’ve been able to upgrade our solution to use blades, both increasing the density and reducing the cost.”

MacStadium’s enterprise class network monitoring and intrusion detection software features industry-leading Arbor Networks® Peakflow Threat Monitoring System. Utilizing direct access to the system through MacStadium, Rabbit can see where attacks are coming from, what servers are being hit, and alleviate any issues quickly by moving bandwidth to stable network segments. All customers at MacStadium are protected by the Arbor® active DoS and DDoS TMS by default. MacStadium engineers are on call 24/7 to work with customers when needed as Zaitsev notes, “we can’t afford to partner with somebody who won’t be there with us in the trenches when things go wrong.”

“MacStadium is an ideal partner for us.”

The Results

With such an innovative application and the potential for a changing user base, adaptability is essential for Rabbit’s software environment. “We wanted a partner who could provide us the flexibility to figure out what the future would look like together,” expressed Rabbit CEO Michael Temkin. “MacStadium is an ideal partner for us. They were really able to just come in and figure out how we can focus on delivering value for our users and free us from a lot of the challenges that would have completely killed us otherwise.”

For a startup innovating in a brand new industry, scalability is paramount to early success and quickly shifting to reach new customers. An on-demand support staff at MacStadium allows for rapid iteration of Rabbit’s testing environments to meet changing application requirements and bandwidth-intensive activities. “The thing that really enabled Rabbit to succeed, in my opinion from a technical perspective, was the ability to have hands that would work on or adjust or replace and provide the networking expertise so we didn’t have to worry about those problems,” confirmed Zaitsev.

Networking expertise infrastructure management tools that can maintain stability during heavy use are essential to the success of Rabbit’s platform. Zaitsev added, “We wouldn’t be where we are if we didn’t have those tools. To be able to see where the network spikes are, to see which switches are overloaded, to be able to mitigate a Distributed-Denial-of-Service (DDoS) attack—we cherish those things.”

The future is bright for both Rabbit and MacStadium as their partnership proves that innovative collaboration to solve scale and technical challenges brought on by rapid growth can create lasting successes and learning opportunities. Temkin agreed, acknowledging that, “it really was perfect timing, a bit of luck, and a bit of hard work from Tim, Jason, and both teams, but Rabbit and MacStadium found each other at exactly the right point for us to push each other ahead in the directions that we planned to go”. Moving forward, Rabbit’s goals are to develop new features to enhance the experience of current users and reach a much wider audience around the globe.