As one of the top people-search platforms in the United States, Spokeo is all about connecting (or re-connecting) people with ease and speed. It should come as no surprise, then, that its website needs to be lightning-fast.
Simply enter the name of the individual you want to find, and in seconds Spokeo delivers a preview of the information you need—age, places lived, family members, relatives, and more. You can then go ahead and pay for the service to reveal the complete data.
Easy? Sure—for the user. But what goes on behind the scenes is much more complicated. To serve the more than 18 million users who visit its site each month, Spokeo must aggregate massive amounts of publicly available data and make it available instantly. For that, the Pasadena, Calif.,-based company relies on a database of more than 12 billion records—along with cutting-edge technology to process those records at breakneck speed.
Of course, none of this could happen without every piece of Spokeo’s IT environment—from applications to infrastructure—performing optimally at all times. Increasingly, Spokeo relies on New Relic monitoring to ensure that they do.
From application monitoring …
Spokeo uses Ruby on Rails as the application framework for its web stack and leverages an assortment of internally created microservices to drive underlying operations ranging from payment processing to handling large data sets and more. Not surprisingly, Spokeo initially deployed New Relic APM to monitor its most basic, all important metric: application performance.
Explains Spokeo Co-Founder and CIO Eric Liang, “Whether it’s improving our ability to ingest and process data or to efficiently serve that data back to the user, we’re always looking for things we can do to add value for our customers. New Relic APM has been hugely beneficial because it allows us to monitor our applications in ways that we couldn’t do ourselves. In the days prior to New Relic, we couldn’t see bugs until something actually broke. Now, with New Relic, we can actually see errors in our code and debug problems much faster.”
… to infrastructure monitoring
As happy as Spokeo was with New Relic’s app monitoring capabilities, the company realized that application performance was only part of the performance equation. “While New Relic APM provided a lot of insights into potential problems on the application side,” says Liang, “some of our issues were more readily noticeable through system-level metrics such as CPU or memory usage and available disk space.”
With its IT infrastructure running in the cloud via Amazon Web Services, the Spokeo team was already employing a variety of open-source tools in addition to Amazon CloudWatch to collect and track metrics on its AWS resources. The company was also using a plug-in to import CloudWatch data into New Relic. But it still needed a more efficient, integrated, granular view of application and infrastructure data—and all of their dependencies—to make it easier to get to the root cause of issues more quickly.
So, Liang and team leapt at the chance to deploy a beta version of New Relic Infrastructure. They wanted the ability to monitor the company’s underlying systems and display those metrics in conjunction with its application metrics, all in one place.
A single integrated view of performance
Liang is especially excited about New Relic’s new Health Map visualization tool, which gives Spokeo a high-density, color-coded view showing both the health of its applications and the health of the infrastructure through which those applications are deployed.
“Now that we’re using APM and Infrastructure in conjunction with Health Map, we’re able to create any sort of filter set that we want on the fly and then view those metrics instantly via big-screen monitors,” says Liang. “This makes it very easy to identify problem areas—a big change from the past when we might know that CPU usage was high but would then have to check out a plethora of other tools to figure out why. Now, in contrast, it’s all right there in front of us, and we can easily see which resources are tied to which application.”
Continuous delivery, increased agility, and a better user experience
Thanks to New Relic monitoring, Spokeo is now able to spot and correct bugs before they impact production systems—which helps the company continuously release new applications and services that set its platform apart from the pack.
Going forward, with the thorough understanding of application and infrastructure performance provided by New Relic, Liang and his team are confident that Spokeo’s platform and infrastructure can flex to meet new customer demands.
Says Liang, “At this point, our IT environment is ready to accommodate whatever marketing drives they throw at us. Sudden spikes in traffic are not a problem, because our New Relic monitoring solutions are able to scale with the business.” That has helped reduce the time that it takes to pinpoint problems, Liang says, improving customer experience and giving his team more time to work on innovative new features and capabilities.