PubNub: The Real-Time Network

PubNub powers a global, real-time network, enabling developers to build real-time applications as easily as building a web page.

It might be true that I have spent too much time playing multiplayer online games. Being a gamer, though, is like spending time in the future of the internet. So when I originally met the team at PubNub and they told me that future applications would be both global and real-time, the idea landed in tilled soil and took root. Today, we are excited to announce our investment in PubNub.

A couple of years ago I spent many hours trying to cobble together a chat component for a Rails application. Implementing the basic functionality using an early version of the open-source library and a Node.js backend server proved to be fairly easy. Scaling up to even a paltry hundred users, some connecting over patchy 3g wireless networks in Indonesia, turned out to be very challenging.

Creating a real-time experience for a global audience is not for the faint of heart. It is difficult to support a complex matrix of devices, network protocols, and firewalls and the problem is compounded by the need for load balancing and performance monitoring as the application scales to millions of users. We believe that a real-time network will be a component of every modern application and that this is not functionality that every engineering team should have to re-invent. 

PubNub abstracts away all this complexity into its global cloud infrastructure by providing the key building blocks for delivering a real-time application. The service establishes a reliable, always-on connection to every device and allows developers to push data in real-time, either on a one-to-one basis or a one-to-everyone basis. PubNub also provides a host of other capabilities like presence, detecting when a user connects and disconnects, as well as storage, playback, and real-time analytics.

As I used PubNub's service I was impressed both by the ease of integration and the simplicity of the API. A few lines of code allowed for support across all desktop and mobile environments. This theme resonated throughout our reference calls with customers. Many of the developers I spoke to had migrated from other open-source solutions because they had struggled to get them to scale; the nature of real-time applications is that they fail at the worst possible time and the root cause is difficult to diagnose. PubNub relieves developers and operations teams of real-time anxiety.

Technology giants like Facebook, Google, and Zynga have spent millions of dollars incorporating real-time capabilities into their products. At ScaleVP, we love companies that democratize access to cutting-edge technology. PubNub will enable the next generation of real-time applications at a fraction of the cost. Their early customers have already built a diverse set of applications with real-time components: multi-player games, 2nd screen synchronization, real-time collaboration, location tracking, and live dashboards. I m excited by the possibilities and look forward to seeing the modern applications that future PubNub customers bring to market.

Originally published September 17, 2013.