It's common for operators of high traffic websites to tout their industrial-strength infrastructure. But at least one owner of a hugely popular site prefers to boast about his frugality and ability to keep his site running with minimal infrastructure. Markus Frind is something of a legend among entrepreneurs who use Google's AdSense program to monetize their web sites. Frind operates the free dating site Plenty of Fish, which just moved into the top 100 web sites, as ranked by HitWise. As a result, Frind is featured in an article in today's Wall Street Journal.
Frind, who runs Plenty of Fish with help from his girlfriend, says the site generates as much as $10,000 per day in AdSense revenue. According to Frind, this is accomplished with minimal server infrastructure:
I'm now using a server with 2 Quad Core Intel chips(Zeon X5355 @ 2.66Ghz), 8 Gigs of ram (only using about 800 megs) and 2 hard drives using Windows x64 Server 2003. Total cost was a couple of grand. The system works a lot better when going over 2 million page views an hour. All outbound data is being Gzipped and even then only 30% CPU usage. To clarify I have only 1 webserver that serves all those pageviews. Most of the 100 million plus image requests a day are running through Akamai. This server does serve 10's of millions of image requests directly, but most of those images are in ram so its not much of a load.
While that's likely the most modest setup of the top 100 sites, serving hundreds of millions of images through Akamai is not entirely cheap. Frind says that using a CDN is essential because of the global reach of his site (which has a large user base in Australia) but says his largest expense is his storage area network. Some on the Web have been skeptical of Frind's claims about his traffic and infrastructure, but the HitWise data is the latest in a series of metrics to have validated the traffic growth of Plenty of Fish.