Technology Director, Drive
It’s infrastructure savings; it's the total cost of ownership. Commercially, we’re better off with Stellate in the mix.
Technology Director, Drive
Faster p50 API response time
Reduction in Cloud Cost
Less API traffic
Learn how we helped Australia's top source for automotive news and data reduce API traffic while growing its audience. Or if you’re ready to dive in, set up Stellate’s GraphQL Edge Caching for your API.
Drive showcases the best of all things automotive, providing more than 3 million monthly site visitors with news, commentary, and consumer resources covering all brands and areas of Australia's motoring industry.
The publication has steadily grown its readership and authority over the years, offering site visitors a wide variety of entertaining and engaging content crafted by a deep bench of automotive journalists and industry experts.
But limitations with Drive's existing technology and a desire to expand beyond its traditional audience led the publication's leadership to explore new roads and reimagine its website from the ground up.
With a mandate to modernize its entire tech stack, Drive saved 40% of its overall infrastructure costs by using Stellate’s GraphQL edge caching. Here’s how they did it.
Drive publishes thousands of articles annually, including hundreds of videos and vehicle reviews, which often encounter sudden bursts of traffic. Some of the publication's most popular pieces of content are its Mega Test articles, which run multiple times a year
"These are gigantic articles, both in terms of content and imagery as well as the data elements behind them all," said Drive Technology Director Kartik Rao. "Rendering them fully uncached means you're basically going to time out everywhere."
This growing archive of media-rich content had begun to strain Drive’s servers, creating issues with reliability and scalability. At the same time, Drive staff sought ways to expand beyond its traditional audience and speak to a broader segment of car buyers, enthusiasts, and anyone else interested in researching a car.
Technology, however, was a limiting factor, affecting both performance and Drive's ability to grow engagement.
From a publishing perspective, Drive’s existing platform had reached its limits in terms of effectively serving customers and internal teams. Additionally, there had been a considerable increase in the amount of computing resources the publication was utilizing, leading to infrastructure sprawl.
"We went through a period where we were running 32 cores of CPU and 64 gigs of RAM," Rao said. "I used to joke with the team; this is WordPress, not SETI. Why do we need so much compute and so much memory?"
The answer was that WordPress was red-lining, handling far too many requests instead of relying on a multi-tiered caching system that could absorb the bulk of that traffic.
"Today, while our overall traffic has grown exponentially, we run a fourth of that capacity—even on high-traffic days," Rao said.
To get there, Rao and his team took a rigorous approach to performance, rebuilding Drive's website with a unique, serverless and headless architecture that uses AWS Fargate and Lambda for most of its infrastructure and WordPress for content management.
As they reimagined the site, the Drive team also emphasized the need for a robust caching system before going live with the new site.
"For digital publishing, you need excellent performance," Rao said. "You need a proper, multi-tiered caching system across the board that can mitigate the risk of overages and downtime. Very early on, we understood that going live without that would either be extremely risky, extremely costly, or worst case scenario, it would be both."
A sophisticated caching system would also allow the team to protect against load they didn't have a good forecast for and avoid overages associated with spiky traffic.
"That's where Stellate came in," Rao said.
By adding Stellate GraphQL Edge Caching in front of its WPGraphQL APIs, Drive reduced API requests to Wordpress by 85.6%, leading to a 40% reduction in overall infrastructure costs—all while significantly growing site traffic..
That means, for every 100 customer requests, only 8 go to WordPress (instead of all 100, as the site was previously set up). That’s where the savings and performance improvements come from.
"It's infrastructure savings; it's the total cost of ownership," Rao said. "Commercially, we're better off with Stellate in the mix."
In addition to cost, Drive has optimized its internal workflows with Stellate, automating a myriad of cache purges and other tasks that would have otherwise eaten up valuable time.
"Stellate specializes in cache for GraphQL, so it's better to rely on their expertise than hand it to the engineers on my team, who are focused on other areas," Rao said.
“GraphQL caching isn’t our bread and butter, it’s not something we want to build in-house, beyond what we can accomplish with automation,” he added.
And for those automated tasks, Stellate’s platform provides an ideal developer UI and UX, making it easy to manage everything from a single source.
“Our experience using Stellate has been twofold,” Rao said. “It has included infrastructure savings, which makes a clear business case, but when you add the developer experience, you get the complete package.”