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SermonAudio had the proverbial good problem

The good: their business was growing quickly. Their audio hosting service was adding thousands of new sermons each week and downloads of these audio files by subscribers was increasing as well.

The problem: their storage and delivery infrastructure was struggling to keep up and getting more and more expensive to maintain with each passing day. Instead of developing new features and enhancements for the subscribers, the development staff was pressed into maintenance mode.

Ian Wagner and his team decided it was time to get ahead of the problem and find a storage solution that could grow along with SermonAudio.
SermonAudio Logo
SermonAudio is “the largest and most trusted library of over 1.3 million free audio sermons from conservative Christian churches and ministries.” Ian Wagner is a Senior Developer and part of the team that decides on IT solutions at SermonAudio.
Each day thousands of churches and ministries upload their sermons to the SermonAudio website to be shared with the community of subscribers.

In the past, audio and video files were uploaded and stored on local storage servers and delivered as requested to subscribers via download or streaming services. As the amount of uploaded content grew SermonAudio would rent more storage servers to add to their infrastructure.

Over time, the system become nearly impossible to manage and Ian and his team spent more and more of their time chasing down maintenance and performance issues. Just when things were under control, another storage server would arrive and the cycle would start again. In addition, the cost of each storage server was adding up to “thousands of dollars a month” just to rent the equipment.

Ian and his team evaluated different solutions: buying an in-house SAN, hosting their equipment in a data center, and using cloud storage. They decided on using cloud storage as it got them out of the business of managing and maintaining their own storage servers. With that in mind, they defined key criteria for the cloud storage service they would use.

After evaluating all the leading the cloud storage solutions, they selected Backblaze B2 Cloud Storage. Backblaze met all of the criteria and in Ian’s estimation B2 was 50% less expensive than their current in-house solution.
Backblaze Data Center
Backblaze B2 was 50% less expensive than the current in-house solution.
SermonAudio used the B2 API to connect their in-house subscription system to B2 Cloud Storage. The effort took only a couple of weeks to code and test. Now, they use B2 to store the audio and video files, and they also use B2 as the distribution source for all subscriber downloads and streams, currently 50 terabytes per month.

Free from having to constantly maintain their in-house system, Ian and his team developed a clever way to manage their download costs. Through a combination of tools combined with the B2 API, they were able to slice highly requested sermons into 5 MB chunks and cache them in B2. The chunks are delivered on-demand to the subscribers. For example, if someone only listened to the first few minutes of a given sermon, only one or two chunks are downloaded from B2 versus the entire sermon. This saves SermonAudio on download costs without impacting the subscriber experience.

B2 is used by subscribers to download and stream over 50 terabytes of data per month.

The next challenge for SermonAudio is video. More and more churches are video taping their services and want to share them with the ever-growing SermonAudio community. Ian and his team are busy implementing the B2 large file API to handle the larger video files and are reviewing the byte-range request option to augment their in-house caching solution. Testing begins any day.

Audio Editing Equipment

Like many organizations, SermonAudio was saddled with a local storage infrastructure that was not only costly, but was beginning to impact their ability to grow. With Backblaze B2 they are able to store and deliver their audio and video files in a timely fashion, scale the system as they need, and still save money doing it. Their good problem now has a good solution.

Backblaze B2 Cloud Storage

Amazingly affordable

Store anything

Easily get data in and out

Keep costs down

Secure, available, reliable

Other goodies

No gotchas