The cloud stack that helped SendGrid scale to 100 billion emails sent

Jim Franklin is CEO at SendGrid. Jim has also been a mentor for Techstars and the Founder Institute. He resides in Boulder, CO.

SendGrid is built for developers by developers. We’re in the business of making email easy for developers so they can concentrate on their core business. With 20% of commercial email never making it to the inbox, companies are losing valuable revenue, engagement, and brand advocacy from their customers. At SendGrid, we’re here to make sure that doesn’t happen. And there’s no better place for us to do that than in the cloud.

As a company grows and becomes more successful, the more critical email becomes to drive additional growth and to reach new and existing subscribers. But with increased usage comes new challenges in maintenance, delivery, and scalability. This can make email a very resource-intensive operation that strains development resources. SendGrid helps relieve companies of the cost, complexities, and associated redundancies inherent with on-premise email management.

Our infrastructure is hosted with five different cloud providers (Limestone, Steadfast, AWS, Rackspace, Softlayer), which allows for failover and minimizes the risk of widespread outages or security breaches. We also have our own self-hosted datacenter in Equinix for greater control and scalability. In the past we used both Cassandra and HBase, but we now use sharded MySQL to scale to the billions of transactions we currently handle every month. In 2009, SendGrid started with 1,000 customers and today we have over 100,000 customers who together have sent over 100 billion emails.

We couldn’t have reached this volume without the cloud and without the help of these other cloud services:

  • Airbrake "Want to know when things go wrong in your app? Want to know why, and for what users? Look no further than Airbrake. Integration is a snap, notifications are fast and reliable, and reports are incredibly detailed."

  • GitHub "Github is priceless, aside from cleanly and easily storing and versioning our code, we use the web interface for code reviews, notifications, and tracking our work."

  • SoftLayer "We use SoftLayer to provide us with hundreds of physical servers and cloud-based virtual machines which power every part of our infrastructure." io/zendesk)

  • Zendesk "Our entire support team relies on Zendesk for all support issues and handling response to support tickets. They are a valued partner who has enabled us to offer world-class support to all of our customers from the start of our business."

  • Get Satisfaction "Get Satisfaction serves as a community forum for SendGrid employees and customers alike. It allows for open discussion to get ideas flowing and issues resolved."

  • SnapEngage "A fellow TechStars company. SnapEngage powers our live chat so our awesome customers can quickly get in touch with our awesome support agents."

  • Zuora "Our whole business just works because it's based on Zuora. It’s a robust, detailed, billing platform that keeps developers and accountants alike happy." io/google-analytics)

  • Google Analytics "From understanding site visitor web funnels to tracking specific elements on-page, Google Analytics offers us the flexibility we need to report on the various components of website performance as we continue to grow." io/hubspot)

  • HubSpot "A valued SendGrid partner that makes marketing automation a breeze."

  • Concur "We all travel a lot—Concur makes it easy for us to book our travel plans and to easily record our expenses. Expense reporting is no longer a headache for us."

  • Salesforce "Our Sales and Marketing team would be lost without a CRM tool as robust and sophisticated as Salesforce. Deep integrations with our backend and other business tools helps standardize data across the company."

  • GoodData Business Intelligence "With billions of emails sent each month and thousands of customers, GoodData has helped us get our heads around the ocean of data at our fingertips and take action on it."

  • Box "Provides us a seamless and worry free way to share our files."

  • HipChat "Hipchat keeps our offices across the globe in constant contact. It’s the perfect chat option for us."

  • JIRA "JIRA is so customizable and allows you to implement whatever flavor of Agile suites each team. Love seeing automatic HipChat notifications on transitions as well!"

  • Google Apps "We use Gmail for our inboxes, organize meetings with Calendar and collaborate on Docs and Spreadsheets."

To see what other startups and companies are using, check out Cloud Stacks