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Fighting aids
with digital


Unique visitors the first day


Panels created every second


Million queue events per second


For the 2015 Quilt, inspired by the AIDS Memorial Quilt, RadicalMedia sought to create a piece of digital artwork created by people all over the world to express their support in the fight for a historical achievement - the delivery of the first AIDS free generation by 2015.

Radical’s goal was to deliver a digital quilt consisting of user submissions (called “panels”) through an interface concept akin to Google Maps.

Plus, more than 50 high-profile celebrities were to be among the first to create and share these panels, which meant an infrastructure engineer’s worst nightmare – scaling an untested new platform on launch day.

"On launch day, the plan was to have over 50 celebrities, some with over 40 million followers, create a panel and tweet their support effectively announcing the quilt’s launch - an engineer’s worst nightmare”

Croscon Work - 2015 Aids Quilt

From the onset, we knew we would have to get creative on how to solve some of the technical challenges.

We built a unique sprite generation engine that would create tiles automatically at various zoom levels in real-time.

In addition we created a system of queues staffed by a dynamic pool of workers that automatically scaled to handle the processing needed to keep the quilt growing. When a submission was received, it would dispatch a sprite job via Amazon’s SQS to a pool of worker machines that would regenerate the appropriate panels.

Once the panels were generated, they would be uploaded to Amazon S3 and served from CloudFront, our CDN facility, which allowed us to deliver the tiles globally within seconds of users submitting their panels.

Croscon Work - 2015 Aids Quilt
Croscon Work - 2015 Aids Quilt

The project was an immense success.

On launch day, we fired up custom-built monitoring dashboards to watch more than 500,000 visitors create over 15 panels per second at the peak. Croscon’s cluster handled the load automatically by adding more than 64 cores of processing power to process 3.2 million queue events per second.

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