Nodeday 2014: The Business Case For Node
NodeDay 2014: The business case for Node
Akbar S. Ahmed | Apr 5, 2014

Node.js helps drive innovation


  • Name: Joe McCann
  • Title: COO
  • Company: The Node Firm
  • Twitter: @joemccann
  • Node is coming up on its 5th year in existence
  • APIs are stabilizing
  • Books exist now

However, Node is experiencing growing pains (as does any technology experiencing rapid growth).

Large and growing community of developers (of various skill levels).

5 key tenets

  • Innovation
  • Productivity
  • Developer joy
  • Hiring/retaining talent
  • Cost savings

Why Node?

Joe started by reading the technical description of Node. His point was to show that the technical description of Node does not get at the heart of why it makes business sense to use Node.

What is Node?

Node’s goal is to provide an easy way to build fast and scalable apps.

Why now?

Companies are tied down by their current tech stack which makes innovation tough. However, the ability to innovate is important to business thrival (my word…combo of Thrive and Survival).

Node gives a company a unique ability to move and adapt quickly.

For example, Uber and Medium are both Node companies. Both have disrupted their markets with hyper-speed.

Success Stories

  • PayPal: cost savings and productivity boost; 2x increase in requests per second; response time dropped 35% or 200 MS; went from 1 to 12 node apps in 12 months
  • GroupOn: serving 50,000 reqs per sec; Node handles same req volume with less hardware (cost savings); page load speeds reduced by 50%; able to make site-wide feature and design changes more quickly
  • Walmart: no servers went down on black friday; CPU utilization around 1% on black friday
  • Yahoo: been using Node for a long time; Dave Glass (key figure); node handles 2 million reqs per min; Yahoo has 200 devs on Node (perhaps the biggest Node team anywhere); 500 internal node modules; 800 external node modules; biggest win = speed and ease of development

Side note: Yahoo has the “biggest x” is used for just about any technology they use. Yahoo has one of the biggest Node clusters, biggest Node teams, biggest Hadoop clusters and so on. Suffice it to say, Yahoo has an insanely good engineering team, and they run at scale.

The Business Case


Node delivers a number of benefits that help drive innovation.

  • Node creates more opportunities to create new products/services due to shorter development times
  • Faster speed to market
  • Rapid prototyping
  • Ability to realize ideas faster and more efficiently
  • Positive feedback loop
  • Node enables this level of innovation


  • Node is modular by design
  • Productivity of developers has business value
  • A productive developer is a happy developer = retention.

It follows that experienced developers are more productive, thus the importance of productive developer -> happy developer -> improved retention.

Developer Joy

Node makes for happy developers. Developers are re-energized with job

Hiring/Retaining Talent

  • Node is considered a “modern technology”
  • Developers are more likely to stay at a company when they get to develop on Node

Cost Savings

  • Reduced cost of onboarding (new developers) due to increased retention
  • Productivity gains === savings
  • Need fewer developers to write apps in less time
  • Uses less hardware
  • Cost savings multiply the more Node gets integrated


Q: I think I heard the same speech about RoR 10 years ago!

A: The reality is that people are winning with Node.

Q: Initial value of Node was high concurrency, but other languages do this well also (mentions Scala). Where is the cost savings really coming from? Is it not correct to say that the value is coming from full stack JS?

A: Yes, there is value in full stack JavaScript. Joe then quotes Gartner: “by 2017 the most required skillset for any dev will be JS”. But he goes on to reiterate the points of his talk and concludes that full stack JavaScript is valuable, but it clearly not the only value.

Q: Lots of enterprises have long standing Java developers. What are the talking points for getting Java developers to switch languages?

A: Education to get people to understand Node / JS.

Q: How many of the success stories are a mixed stack?

A: Mixed stack is very common.

Q: You mentioned LinkedIn. Where does Node fit into their stack?

A: Node is used for their mobile services (i.e. LinkedIn uses Node for the API that supports their mobile products).

Q: What about maintainability?

A: Answered by Dav Glass @davglass from Yahoo:

  • Maintenance is easy when modules are kept small
  • 100% code coverage.
  • Use semver!
  • Focus a lot on code quality

Q: Are there any failures? Are there any learnings?

A: (Answer was from someone at Amazon…sorry did not catch the name) Amazon has had slow Node uptake. They have a preexisting service architecture. Lots of huge framework stuff. Failure stories are that some packages don’t exist yet.

Q: Can Node be used for Big Data? Use cases of NodeJS and Big Data?

A: Someone in audience mentioned use of JavaScript (in general) and not Node specifically for things like Map Reduce in MongoDB, RethinkDB, etc.

My $.02. Use Java (or a language that targets the JVM) for Big Data as the entire ecosystem is built around this. Hadoop, Storm, Spark, etc. are all JVM 1st environments. Plus the BD developer community is heavily skewed toward JVM languages so you’ll get more support. IMO, JavaScript is not the right tool for the job where Big Data (querying, transformation, analysis) is concerned.

Q: What are some cases where Node is not ideal?

A: Standard (server-side) CRUD applications can be written in any language, so this is a case of go with what you know.

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