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This is a guest post written by Claude Johnson, a Lead Site Reliability Engineer at

The following is an architectural overview of’s core platform and applications. Other systems such as Heroku's Dyno architecture or the subsystems of other products such as and are specifically not covered by this material, although is. The idea is to share with the technology community some insight about how does what it does. Any mistakes or omissions are mine.

This is by no means comprehensive but if there is interest, the author would be happy to tackle other areas of how works. is interested in being more open with the technology communities that we have not previously interacted with. Here’s to the start of “Opening the Kimono” about how we work.

Since 1999, has been singularly focused on building technologies for business that are delivered over the Internet, displacing traditional enterprise software. Our customers pay via monthly subscription to access our services anywhere, anytime through a web browser. We hope this exploration of the core architecture will be the first of many contributions to the community.

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Peter Biddle speaks at the ETech conference in 2007.

Scott Beale

Can digital rights management technology stop the unauthorized spread of copyrighted content? Ten years ago this month, four engineers argued that it can't, forever changing how the world thinks about piracy. Their paper, "The Darknet and the Future of Content Distribution" (available as a .doc here) was presented at a security conference in Washington, DC, on November 18, 2002.

By itself, the paper's clever and provocative argument likely would have earned it a broad readership. But the really remarkable thing about the paper is who wrote it: four engineers at Microsoft whose work many expected to be at the foundation of Microsoft's future DRM schemes. The paper's lead author told Ars that the paper's pessimistic view of Hollywood's beloved copy protection schemes almost got him fired. But ten years later, its predictions have proved impressively accurate.

The paper predicted that as information technology gets more powerful, it will grow easier and easier for people to share information with each other. Over time, people will assemble themselves into what the authors called the "darknet." The term encompasses formal peer-to-peer networks such as Napster and BitTorrent, but it also includes other modes of sharing, such as swapping files over a local area network or exchanging USB thumb drives loaded with files.

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