You may not realize it, but whenever you search for something on Google, pay your bills online or update the news on your eteamz site, all you're doing is connecting to another computer. Yep, a computer just like yours, although usually a bit more powerful. They might be running Windows (like us), or Linux, or some other operating system, but they're still just computers.
A computer that just sits there giving out webpages (like eteamz, Google, Yahoo, etc.) is usually called a server (it "serves" web pages, get it?). Most servers on the internet sit in buildings called data centers. A data center has big juicy connections to the internet that can hold a lot of data, as well as backup power supplies in case something goes wrong. Some even have their own power generators nearby so they can run for weeks if their local power plant were to go dark! This is why companies put their computers in data centers -- they provide a lot of redundancy and protection in case something goes wrong, and it's typically too expensive to get that kind of protection in your own building.
Those boxes you see on the right are known as racks or cages and they typically hold a few dozen servers each. Last night eteamz moved a few feet from one cage to another. Which doesn't seem all that impressive until you learn that the bandwidth (the amount of data that can be moved around) in the new cage is 10 times greater than the bandwidth in the old cage! For the techies out there: the new cage has a 1000 megabit backbone (1Gb), the old had 100 megabits. This is a huge step for us since it will allow us to expand exponentially going forward.
I'd like to thank our IT department who worked until almost midnight last night to make sure the job got done right and that it wouldn't impact our users. This is a big step for eteamz and will give us plenty of elbow room for the forseeable future to expand our services and make sure the site stays quick and responsive.
You already got a big welcome from David so I'll just cut to the chase! My name's Rob Cameron and I'm the Lead Developer for eteamz. Since coming aboard in June of this year I've been amazed by the dedication and support of those that work on eteamz. I'm proud to join them and will do my best to make the site a more enjoyable experience for you and your teams!
What have I been working on? My first major project for eteamz was snazzing up the Snapshotz area, adding a submission form, and creating a new backend tool for our customer service folks to sort through all of your photos and choose a winner each month. You'll never get to use this tool yourselves, but I included a screenshot of it below. Next was the new Shutterfly features that I'm sure you're all enjoying. Currently I'm working on re-coding the home page, simplifying the registration process, and thinking about tweaks to the administration screens to help streamline the process of configuring and managing your site.
[submission form|http://active.typepad.com/.shared/image.html?/photos/uncategorized/snapshotz_screen.jpg] [Snapshotz Admin]
A little bit about my background ... I've been designing web pages since 1996 and working with dynamic, database-driven websites since 2000. My main interests are user interface design and usability -- making sure you guys can use the site and that it has enough features so that you can get your job done, but not so many that it's overwhelming. My personal site is ridingtheclutch.com -- it's got some of my photographs and snippets about stuff I'm working on. I know, it hasn't been updated in quite a while, I need to get back to it! For more of my photography, check out my Flickr account. I've also got several side projects going on at any given time -- Cube6Media, ColdFusion on Wheels, HadronForge, SuddenViolence.com...the list goes on.
All right, I should get back to work. I'll do my best to give you a sneak peek at what's going on behind the scenes from a technical standpoint, without using phrases like "database replication" or "query optimization." I feel like we're about to enter eteamz' Golden Age and we want you along for the ride!