Adjusting to rapid Marketplace growth—and preparing for the future

Over the last several weeks some of you have reported slowdowns or delays in the app approval and publishing process. You’ve also said App Hub feels slower. We’ve been investigating, and today I want to explain why this is happening and more importantly what we’re doing about it.

This is the first in a series on our evolving Marketplace service that I plan to write in the months ahead.

It turns out App Hub had become less responsive. And our certification turnaround times have increased—by one business day, on average, from January through late March. Why? In short, growing pains. In three months the number of apps in Marketplace has grown by 60 percent, to nearly 80,000. During that period we’ve also nearly doubled the number of customer stores around the world, so there are now 54 markets to sell your apps. The addition of so many new markets and apps so quickly has slowed our backend systems.

So what are we doing about it? There is a long-term and a short-term plan. We’re already in the process of developing a more robust and scalable Marketplace service that will address current problems and pave the way for the even more rapid growth we’re expecting in the years ahead. But engineering work this significant doesn’t happen overnight. Our plan is to have it complete by late summer.

Until that work is done, we’ll be taking short-term measures to shore up the current service and relieve some of the strain on app certification and publishing. Some of these changes started rolling out about 10 days ago and include:

  • Adding more server capacity to better handle the increased load.
  • Streamlining our processes to accelerate the rate at which apps can be ingested, certified, and published.

Unfortunately, you probably won’t see dramatic results until Marketplace’s next generation service is deployed later this summer. But the average app certification wait has now fallen to 2.6 business days, or about a half-day improvement over the last 10 days. (You might experience different wait times depending on the app you’re submitting.)

We’ve also deployed some bug fixes that are helping to improve App Hub responsiveness.

I’m well aware there’s more work to do. But I wanted you to know that we take your feedback and concerns seriously and are attacking the problem on multiple fronts. I’ll have more to say on short-term plumbing upgrades—and planned long-term improvements to Marketplace and App Hub—in future posts. In the meantime, please let me know what’s on your mind.