Case Study: CancerCare – Coding for a good cause and delivering great online service

Founded in 1944, CancerCare offers free, professional support for anyone affected by cancer. The national non-profit assists more than 100,000 people each year with counseling, support groups, and financial assistance. Its website is a central place for users to conduct research, ask questions, and to get help navigating the healthcare system.

By 2009, CancerCare’s website was receiving over 600,000 visitors annually and was growing quickly. The site needed a complete redesign to make it faster, easier to use, and more reliable. The development team decided to migrate the site from PHP to Ruby on Rails and to replace Google Analytics performance indicators with a real-time tool that would help them improve performance across their entire environment.

That’s when the team found New Relic. They were quickly sold on the tool’s ability to identify potential bottlenecks. Before long the team was hooked. “New Relic was my primary source of information about how our app was running …” said Steve Grossi, Senior Coordinator of Online Projects. “This knowledge has been indispensable and makes development easier and more enjoyable.”

Steve knows the importance of gaining a complete understanding of the site’s performance so he can spot potential issues before users do. To do this, he and the team use Apdex reporting to get aTTSummary snapshot of the overall health of their website and  error alerting to get email notifications when the site’s error percentage is rising. One feature they found very useful was transaction tracing. Steve says that with the feature, “Not only can I see at a glance which pages are slowing us down… it shows me at the most granular level what’s holding each transaction up and how to fix it.”

Since implementing New Relic, the web team’s productivity and efficiency have skyrocketed. They can now prioritize their workload so they can concentrate on the highest impact items first. “Now we are always on top of things,” said Grossi. “Using New Relic has removed the guesswork.”

See the full case studyto see how CancerCare has taken advantage of the full capabilities New Relic offers.

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