“A lot of us here at Surfline, before we get out of bed in the morning, we roll over and check the surf and the cameras on our iPhones. The idea of seeing a video on a mobile device was a dream for people for a long time. And that time is now.”
Director of Technology
Catching waves in the palm of the hand.
With 150 live-streaming cameras positioned at key surf spots around the globe and a sophisticated software system designed to predict wave conditions even a week in advance, Surfline.com is a surfer’s paradise. That’s why 1.5 million unique web users—and 500,000 more on mobile—use the site every month.
To help keep Surfline functioning glitch-free, nonstop, Scientific Product Manager Graeme Rae uses iPhone.
“The surf doesn’t stop,” he says. “And with iPhone, I can reboot a server from the beach. I can reboot a server from bed. I can even reboot it from work.”
Minding the store, away from the store
iPhone has given Rae mobility and agility, two qualities he needs in a company that runs around the clock. “Safari means I can browse our website,” he says. “So if I get a call or an email saying that a particular page is broken or a service is down, I don’t need a computer. I can bring it up on Safari and see the same things they’re seeing.”
And Rae can usually fix the problem right from iPhone. “A lot of the tools we use to run our site are web-based. There are admin pages, and we have a powerful content management system that we can access from our iPhones. So if it’s as simple as going in and correcting a typo, or if it’s as complex as using our version control system to send up some new software, I can pretty much do all of that through Safari.”
In addition to Safari, Rae has a tech-heavy lineup of apps on his iPhone home screen. TouchTerm gives him access to Surfline’s servers. SiteCatalyst provides a quick overview of Surfline’s page views and visitors at any given time. Zendesk, the internal support ticket system at Surfline, has an iPhone app that offers access to new trouble tickets as they come in.
For Rae, there’s no doubt about the impact iPhone has had on his work experience. “My job is easier,” he says. “I’m not tied to a desk. No matter where I go, people can reach me. And I can do almost anything I need to with iPhone.”
Surf news goes mobile
Surfline’s users are passionate people. As soon as iPhone came out, they wanted an app. Surfline was already on top of it, working together with sunglasses-and-apparel giant Oakley to develop Surf Report, one of the most popular sports apps for iPhone.
Surfline developed Surf Report with the goal of extending the website’s reach, and results have been overwhelmingly positive. “About half of our mobile traffic comes from iPhone users,” CEO Jonno Wells says. “And that’s not really reflective of the mobile market. So our customers on iPhone are rabid users.”
Vice President of Sales Robin Walker should know. He whips out iPhone whenever he gets the urge to hop on a board. “I had my first iPhone epiphany when I found myself not even rolling out of bed to turn on my computer, but grabbing my iPhone and navigating to the camera at 56th Street in Newport to see the waves.”
Jonno does the same thing. “Because iPhone is always with me, I can check the conditions right from my hand,” he says. “So it’s a perfect marriage of our product and the accessibility that iPhone provides.”
Exchange, VPN, and an office in sync
Director of Technology Brian Mezger is responsible for helping deploy iPhone with new employees at Surfline. It’s a pretty quick job. “It takes five minutes to set up iPhone on Exchange and the VPN client,” he says. “Basically, you enter the Exchange server, username, and password. Then away you go.”
With Exchange support on iPhone, Surfline’s employees sync all their email, calendars, and contacts with iPhone. And the VPN client native to iPhone has been “critical,” according to Mezger. “It allows us to access our data center—our servers and databases—from outside the office.”
All of this accessibility has led to an increase in productivity. Mezger sees it in the office, with the tech team, and in the field, maintaining Surfline’s impressive network of cameras. Previously, technicians had to carry a laptop and try to find a wireless Internet connection, often from the top of a building. Now, as they service any camera, they can whip out their iPhones and check its status over the 3G network.
That’s another big leap in efficiency for Surfline, which makes Rae very satisfied. “I’ve used every phone under the sun in as technical a manner as I possibly can,” Rae says. “And iPhone is by far the best.”