Smooth Transition to Microservices Helps Yodle Craft Better Code [Video]

Online marketing can be a complex beast, even for the professionals. So imagine how intimidating it can be for a small business short on time and technological prowess. When your specialty is tree surgery or chiropractic care, the skills that keep your customers loyal don’t necessarily extend to web design or social media, email campaigns or SEO.

yodle logoThankfully, Yodle is on hand to offer complete Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) online marketing solutions, tailored specifically to small businesses. Leveraging the latest technology, Yodle builds growth-oriented solutions for its more than 50,000 customers.

“Our customers have a particular craft that they’re very good at, and they want to spend their everyday focusing on that,” says Daniel Rolnick, chief technology officer at Yodle. But with a “do-it-for-you or do-it-with-you” approach, Daniel says, Yodle ensures each customer gets the right level of guidance and support for whatever level of involvement the client wants in its online marketing strategy.

Complexity of flexibility

In August 2014, Yodle began migrating its operations to the cloud. It also undertook a shift from a monolithic architecture with large-scale but infrequent deployments towards continuous, on-demand releases. That meant breaking the application structure down into dozens of containerized microservices. “We wanted to give teams the flexibility to build and deploy pieces of our platform on an as-needed basis,” says Cris Stauffer, Yodle’s senior director of test engineering.

cris stauffer yodleThat flexibility is the hallmark of an Agile dev shop, and it’s invaluable for engineering productivity. But it also necessitates a new approach to monitoring to make sure a huge number of deployments—for Yodle, up to 400 monthly across 200-plus microservices—doesn’t lead to an equally huge number of problems.

“Giving so much control to our developers, we needed a very efficient and effective monitoring solution,” says Barak Shechter, Yodle engineering manager and lead engineer for architecture, platform, and tools.

Synthetic transactions, real-time insights

Yodle discovered that solution during a 2015 hackathon. Initially deploying New Relic on an experimental basis, the company quickly decided to roll it out extensively. “We had that moment: New Relic was exactly what we needed, exactly what had been missing,” recalls Cris Stauffer. “So we thought: let’s get it everywhere.”

Today, virtually every team has a New Relic dashboard open on one of their monitors. As he walks around the office, Rolnick can glance at each one, gathering the data and insights he needs to feel confident that each and every deployment is happening safely and effectively.

That’s thanks in large part to the “canary pipeline” that New Relic enables Yodle to operate. Across the pipeline’s three distinct stages of deployment—isolated, partial, and full—real-time application performance data generated by real (New Relic APM) and synthetic (New Relic Synthetics) transactions ensures that any issue, no matter how minor, prompts a rapid rollback. Which means end users never have to know that something went wrong, and service continues undisrupted.

Reaching the next level

The confidence that New Relic provides has allowed Yodle to foster a thriving DevOps culture, and to achieve its goal of continuous delivery. With engineers free to develop and deploy exciting new iterations and services on a daily basis, Yodle’s customers are in turn free to focus on keeping their own clients happy, safe in the knowledge that their online marketing program is in good hands.

Now that New Relic is an integral element of Yodle’s operations, Cris Stauffer is excited to think about the potential for even greater data-driven advances. His vision involves increased automation throughout the deployment process. “That’s the next level for us: making even more intelligent decisions in an automated way.”

For more information on how New Relic helps Yodle track the performance of its modern, microservices architecture, be sure to watch the video below:


Ali Gerrard is a product marketing manager at New Relic. View posts by .

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