At long last…

It took a lot of planning, prototyping, testing and trial runs, but we’ve finally completed our migration over to amazon/aws.

What does this mean for you? It means significantly lower chances of down-time (our systems are waaaaay more fault-tolerant now), plus tighter security (we were always secure, but now even more so).

On our end we get to breathe easier knowing that our systems are fully redundant and scalable to meet demand, and we can start deploying new updates with confidence.



The rest of this post is a bit inside baseball, but I thought I’d share some details as we get asked about our setup quite often in support-land and at tech meetups.

About a year ago we began bumping up against walls that impeded our ability to move forward. These fell in to three broad categories: scalability, agility, and (as a result) marketing. Arguably these are good problems for a company to have (well, maybe not the marketing part), and while we had theoretical solutions for everything, the practical matter of implementation took quite a bit of time, a lot of learning and a few leaps of faith.

On the infrastructure front, our production architecture at Linode, while hyper-optimized (running arch+nginx), did not lend itself to easy scalability. Given a team of sysadmins we could have overcome this, but we’re app developers at heart. Enter aws: eb, ec2, rds, ses, s3 and route53 to save the day. While we still have a few things to tweak, we couldn’t be happier with the move. Major props to the boys at TriNimbus for giving us a hand.

On the agility front, our inability to efficiently work on isolated feature development was killing us. Branching-and-merging is not an area where svn excels. We’re now git across the board and cannot believe we waited so long to switch. We still use beanstalk for our repo origins because, well, they’re awesome. On another note, we made the mistake, in hindsight, of outsourcing some of our mobile app development. We were running low on internal man-power (as our time was getting sucked into putting out fires), but in the end having a portion of our development outsourced really killed our iterative release cycles. As we were unable to synchronously release feature updates across all platforms we got stuck in the mud. So we’re bringing development back in-house. All of it.

On the marketing front, being in a scalability bind we weren’t in a position to bring hoards of new users into the mix — though we did welcome thousands of new users through organic / word-of-mouth referrals. Now that we have the infrastructure in place to support rapid growth, we’ll be kicking things up a notch to more aggressively get the word out.

All of which is to say that it took the better part of a year to dig ourselves out of the hole we made for ourselves. Building good software and running a solid business both involve continual improvements and course-corrections, and it’s nice to be back on a path with daylight again. We’re all pretty stoked for what comes next.


  1. Andrew

    Great to hear that – congratulations on making it through such a long journey. Looking forward to seeing how things develop.

  2. David Drake

    Congratulations! Still here and supportive and looking forward to a bright future for Nirvana.

  3. Brian

    Good to hear about the move and looking forward to seeing your energy put into making improvements in the app. I also look forward to seeing more frequent and substantive communication.

  4. Fernando

    I recently, after one year of trying all other stuff hanging round, I return to Nirvana. There is noting in the market like Nirvana for an effective way of implementing GTD through a web app.
    Hopefully in a short time we’ll get an improve web app (with much more shortcuts and possibility of file attachments) and an iPad app.

    Look fw to see that after this new announcement 😉

  5. David Drake

    ipad app, iPad app, iPad app! Need this so much!

  6. Relevart

    Great news! I have returned to Nirvana a few months ago and very happy with the choice.

    For some reason I and as I see a lot of GTDers like to try out all the apps on the market just to be sure that I am using the best software out there.

    For this reason I have been back and forth between Nirvana and other software. But I can easily see that I was the most productive when I was using Nirvana.

    Looking forward to what comes next.

  7. Mike

    Kudos on the “on the chin” post Elbert. I always held out hope Nirvana was still around and in there somewhere, even though it didn’t seem like it there for a little bit. Sounds like you faced a big challenge, and the hard work paid off. I’m definitely optimistic for the future.

    @David – Come on man, not even 24 hours after this post and you’re already clamoring for stuff.

  8. David Drake

    I really was just joking, Mike. But good point. Sorry, Elbert.

  9. Very happy to hear about the stability improvement. Thanks for the communication, and congratulations on the successful migration.

  10. Anders

    Congratulations to a successful migration. Really good to here that things now are about to move on. Like many others I have scanned the market and tried alternatives but in the end you still come out on top – keep up the good work 🙂

  11. Thomas Nichols


    We’ve just embarked on the same (dedicated to AWS) migration – with added for extra entertainment – and so far we’re very happy with it. I’m very relieved to see such a clear identification of Nirvana’s problems, and am completely depending on you to address them, and build a business as excellent as your product. The only thing out there that comes close to this level of GTD Power is the Hipster PDA — and my Nirvana addiction is now so complete that I don’t think I could face going back there 😉

    — Thomas

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