Business Plan Pro now takes advantage of the robust nature and high speed bandwidth provided by Amazon S3 to serve its web updates. Palo Alto Software gets a smaller bill for bandwidth and one less feature running on our server farm to have to maintain. While at the same time, our customers get reliable, high speed service for our downloads. It’s a win/win situation for everyone but our ISP.
Business Plan Pro has a great feature that allows users to opt to automatically check for updates to the software every time they run the application. This ensures they will always have the latest and greatest version of our software on their machine and helps minimize the impact of bugs our developers and QA missed. Yes, I know it’s hard to believe that even our world class team of developers and testers still release software with bugs from time to time ;) And with the time it takes a CD ROM to enter production and make it to the shelves of our retailers, it’s more common than not that there will be a newer version available on the web at the time the user first runs the application. So the auto-update saves the day, allowing users to never be the wiser about bugs already having been fixed but still lurking in the software they were about to run.
Business Plan Pro, by virtue of being the decisive leader of Business Planning software in the world — applaud goes here ;), has great demands on bandwidth for its updates. Without disclosing confidential figures on the size of our user base, I can tell you that thousands of updates are served per week. And each update ranges anywhere from 4 MB to 40 MB. This kind of strain accounts for a significant portion of Palo Alto Software’s total outgoing bandwidth needs. Therefore, moving the services to Amazon S3 is a significant change.
The good news is that because of the way the web update feature was designed, we were able to seamlessly move our updates to Amazon S3 mid product lifecycle. Business Plan Pro hits a web service on our ISP which returns the URL to download the software thru. Easily enough, going live was as simple as modifying the web service to issue Amazon S3 Urls to the client instead. All the changes to implement this feature were server side and so now customers get even better update service without having to get an update first .
Senior Software Design Engineer
Palo Alto Software