Deezer: online music streaming service

Deezer: online music streaming service

Deezer was created in 2006. Deezer is a music-on-demand service that allows you to create and share playlists from a catalogue of over 13 million free tracks, and access your favorite artists, tracks and albums.
Interview with Daniel Marhely, founder of Deezer

Daniel, where did you come up with this idea ?

“I first of all created Blogmusik in June 2006 from a very simple idea: not wanting to lug around my MP3 player at the time, I put all my music on a server so that I could simply access it at home, at work, or at my friends’ places. I then decided to turn it into a business, but the concept was completely illegal! That’s why I decided to strike a deal with SACEM to be able to legally stream music over the Internet. Blogmusik was then renamed to Deezer. The site’s aim is still the same, granting access to a music catalogue of 13 million titles, at any moment, no matter where you are.”

How did you create Deezer?

“We started in 2006, using only one server for the first 8 months – during 6 of which I had to manually restart the machine, as it wouldn’t do it automatically. The day that Blogmusik became Deezer, we had found a ‘serious’ hosting provider. We went to Iguana Solutions USA, following recommendations from Dailymotion.
Stéphane Cohen, the CEO of Iguana Solutions USA, believed in our project and betted on us before we’d even raised the funds. He helped us to finance some of the machines (4 in total) to allow us to launch in the first year. Growth was rapid and we had to expand the architecture as a result.”

What did you expect from your hosting partner ?

“We started the company as a team of 3, 2 of us being developers. We had the application we wanted to develop and zero time to handle the technical and systems architecture. From the very beginning, we were explicitly looking for a company that would take care of the administration and information management for the entire hosting side of things. A host that had the capacity to handle the issues presented by growth, and that would give long-term support. This is why we started off at Iguana Solutions USA.

From that moment, and to this very day, everything is integrally managed and info managed at Iguana Solutions USA.”

What types of service do you currently use?

“We are currently clients of dedicated hosting and information management services. In France, we have just over 130 servers in the Vitry datacenter, which corresponds to 14 bays.

In California, Iguana Solutions USA info manages around 7 machines: following a deal with Facebook this summer, we have locally deployed an architecture so that they can easily carry out testing with a good quality of service. Since the creation of this service, we have reached bandwidth peaks of around 20 Gbps, all whilst working with Iguana Solutions USA on optimizing our transit. In order to guarantee a maximum quality of service, we also use CDNs.”

What do you think of Iguana Solutions USA’s infrastructures ?

“In 4 years, we have dealt with several migrations, and changed datacenters 3 times – we inevitably had some incidents, but they were handled perfectly. Moving from Global Switch to Vitry was an operation that took several months. Everything went well, and had been all thought out, since we had no service interruptions, in spite of a slight worry at the beginning.

In terms of network, there’s nothing to say – they have an excellent network quality and overall no real problems. We have never had any user complaints in France about it. In terms of datacenter stability, we experienced a shortage at Global Switch, which hit us 3 times (power cuts and problems with climate control), but for the 2 years we have been at Vitry, the SLA has been 100%, and there have never been any problems, on an infrastructure or equipment level. In terms of overall service quality, I am very satisfied.

In terms of skills, Iguana Solutions USA knew how to build the Deezer platform, but also grew and learned from it over their years of work with Deezer – we grew and, I think, succeeded together.”

What are your thoughts on the information management service ?

“There are 2 or 3 of us who interact with the Iguana Solutions USA teams, and there are no problems in terms of responsiveness – they answer us within hours. For the last 8 months, our exchanges have been even more constructive. We now have visibility in terms of planning, and on certain different points: we organize meetings, technical conference calls with the Iguana Solutions USA teams on a bimonthly basis. We also have a permanent relationship with Skype, which gives us almost-live support, which is a great advantage to us, perhaps indispensable, even.

I see Iguana Solutions USA as an excrescence of Deezer; they are part of the Deezer team, and vice-versa. We work in tight collaboration, and today, if I couldn’t have that kind of closeness, it wouldn’t be able to work. You can’t take risks with a service that’s as big as Deezer.”

Has Iguana Solutions USA lived up to your expectations?

” Iguana Solutions USA provides real guidance for Deezer. There are a lot of exchanges between my teams and teams from Iguana Solutions USA on the problems they encounter, and we also try to anticipate the future in terms of load. It’s these exchanges that allow us to make choices, and avoid coming up against serious obstacles in the future. Iguana Solutions USA is able to manage these predictions.

Deezer and Iguana Solutions USA test new technology together, and we share out the work. When we are restricted, in terms of service growth, we hold meetings to put into place the objectives we want to meet. After that, both companies propose technological arbitration – Deezer on the development/service side of things, and Iguana Solutions USA on the architecture/systems side. Once this has been done, we then ready ourselves and predict what the service load will be to see it through. This happened, notably, where the service network was concerned, when we had to send a part of our traffic over CDN, and also after changing our SQL.

Consequently, Deezer learned to work in a very optimized kind of a way. We try to go all the way with our technology, to be constantly optimizing our resources. Today, Deezer is a French service, and all things considered, we actually have very few machines. If we compare ourselves to other competitors or other services of a similar size, we only have a small architecture – small, but highly optimized. Iguana Solutions USA also really ‘tuned’ things on the machine and service side of things. This was possible because of our exchanges – we share access to monitoring, statistics, log files, and we get regular alerts from Iguana. We have real visibility, and with it, the possibility to optimize a wide variety of things.

For several months now, the service has been very stable and we haven’t had any technical issues, which allows us to develop a lot more serenely. When we have had problems, we’ve had to focus resources onto optimization and on how to deal with the problems.

Today, we are a lot more focused on our product. We also have the freedom to say to ourselves, ‘we can sleep soundly’, there are people taking care of it. Everybody has their own vocation, their own expertise: music is at the heart of our work, not information management. We could have chosen to internalize that side of things, but looking back, we’ve found that Iguana Solutions USA have really got the know-how. We’ve got a product to develop, an expertise in music, and we work with different experts in different domains.

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