One of the key rules of having any service online is the ability to measure everything. Metrics like number of users, requests, where the requests originate, most frequently requested data and many more play an important role in not only fine tuning your services but also give a good measure of what it is going to cost you to run your online business as you scale up. SMSMyBus, a mobile telephone application that lets you find real time bus arrivals for the Madison Metro (WI) has just completed a year of existence and has published a report exactly of that.
SMSMyBus, which is powered by Twilio and Google App Engine is developed by Greg Tracy, who is also the founder of Asthmapolis that we had covered earlier. Users of SMSMyBus can get information by sending Text Messages, Email, via Twitter Direct Message, Google Talk and even by dialing in. It even has an SMSMyBus API to allow developers to build on top of the transit data. In a blog entry, Tracy has provided an analysis of his application logs that gives interesting insights like number of users, total number of requests along with unique stops requested and most popular stop requested. The blog post also demonstrates interesting visualizations of the application usage.
What is particularly interesting to note is that Tracy estimated what it cost him to run the site. The ballpark figure mentioned is $75 for the Twilio communications platform that powers the SMSMyBus application. Developers who are looking to understand what it costs to run a service online will appreciate numbers like this which, present a real world application scenario. One should be able to extrapolate from these numbers to see what it will cost as the service scales up in usage.
Tracy has done a great service in putting up these numbers and more reports like this will help developers understand the cost of having these services running. It also underlines the importance of having the ability to analyze the data that is moving in and out of your application. If you have an online service, can you share your experience, too?