Case Study: How Google Saved Love
Case Study: How Google Saved Love
The way we search for love has drastically changed in the past few years. While some people are still meeting their lobsters either through friends, in the dog park, or at work, there’s one category that has exploded during the past few years: online dating.
A recent survey revealed that 20% of the participants met their partners online - and the growth shows no signs of declining.
And for those of you still looking for love, there are plenty of options on the online market.
Traditional dating sites like eHarmony will match you with your future wife by asking detailed questions and pouring the answers into a seemingly foolproof algorithm. While niche communities like Tastebuds.fm, for music lovers, Trek Passions for those who want to love long and prosper, and Clown Passions (I dare you to guess what they are all about...) introduces you to people with similar interests.
However, online dating is not all fun and games. Spend some time on any of these dating apps carrying dual X chromosomes, and you will likely end up with an inbox filthier than the nearest sewer. With no friends or social groups in common, there is less social pressure to keep behaviour in check. And the results? Buckets of unwanted behaviour. One dating app, however, is attempting to combat this.
Founded in Paris in 2014, happn brings people together based on two key concepts: real time and hyper-geolocation. The founders of happn believe that by matching you with people you have recently crossed paths with, you will experience an immediate sense of familiarity.
And indeed it does. Today, the app is available in a total of 15 languages, and it’s accessible in more than 40 countries worldwide, from the souks of Istanbul to the hipster streets of Copenhagen. The app is hyper-geolocalized and instant: whenever you cross paths with another user, their profile will be displayed in your timeline.
And with one quick swipe, the sweet brunette on the 77 bus can be your next girlfriend.
The business grew faster than anyone could have dreamt of.
By the end of 2015, more than 10 million users had been seduced by the possibilities and signed up for a membership. All of them were eager to swipe and scroll their way to eternal love and happiness.
But this had unfortunate consequences - the business was struggling to scale fast enough.
Their original choice of host put limitations on the company’s expansion needs, and the lack of flexibility made happn suffer greatly from growing pains. An additional headache was caused by the fact that happn billed their users a monthly fee which was far from a flexible solution - and especially not when faced with fluctuating consumption.
A third challenge was the downtime users often experienced, as they were suffering from a significant delay between the request for activation of new servers and their operations.
It was clear that if happn wanted to keep on growing, they would need a new host.
The Stress Test
The founders of happn decided to migrate from a fixed infrastructure to a flexible platform. In early 2016, the technical team drew up specifications in order to perform a full-scale test of the behaviour of their key software components: Cassandra, Java, RabbitMQ, and Elasticsearch. For happn, only the best would be good enough - and that’s why they invited three global cloud specialists for a stress test.
Based on samples of the various features and services provided by happn, the prototypes offered by the cloud providers were stress tested during the design, deployment, and production phases. It was a long process, but Google Cloud Platform emerged as the victor.
The Benefits of Google Cloud Platform
“Our audience varies (...) We need power availability to fulfill the promise of our product: real-time updates when our users cross paths,” explains Sebastien Preneta, the Vice President of Engineering at happn. “The business model proposed by Google, which did not require servers instances to be reserved, best met our expectations. The attitude and commitment demonstrated by Google were also determining factors.”
The switchover was carried out seamlessly in 2016. This transfer involved tens of terabytes of data, and happn couldn’t even have dreamt of a smoother transition. As of now, happn has more than 500 servers distributed among Google Cloud Platform data centres worldwide.
Aside from images, all data is stored and backed up in Cassandra, as well as in Google Cloud Datastore and Google BigQuery. Additionally, Google Compute Engine is at the heart of happn’s virtual server architecture. This tool currently provides the following functions:
- Domain name management
- Operation and performance monitoring
- Gateway to the programming interfaces
- User searches
- Cache management
- Load balancing (HAProxy and Google Cloud Load Balancing)
In addition to this, happn also uses a number of analytical tools offered by Google Cloud Platform. “The infrastructure for these analytics services us managed directly by Google. It would have taken us much longer to build an equivalent in an internal infrastructure. This way, we can focus on our business challenges, rather than technical ones”, explains Preneta.
For happn, the flexibility of Google Cloud Platform is invaluable when it comes to deploying their app in new markets. When the app was launched in India in 2017, the technical team chose to double the available computing power as a precaution. Two weeks after the launch, happn adjusted the capacity based on the average numbers of daily downloads and connections.
Google Cloud Platform enabled them to scale up quickly when they needed it - and to adjust their computing power to their actual need.
It goes without saying that launching an app in countries the size of continents will represent both a commercial and technical challenge. With the help of Google Cloud, happn can ensure a consistent quality and simultaneously make sure that the service is available anywhere in the world. Additionally, when looking beyond obvious benefits such as stable computing power and the adapted pricing, Google greatly simplify the technical tasks at hand. The time saved on updates, patches and maintenance means that happn engineers can spend their time focusing on the functional enhancements of the app instead.
It’s safe to conclude that happn and Google is a match made in heaven.
Google Results At A Glance
- Flexible scaling. The adjustable computing power makes Google the perfect host when launching on new markets
- Managed services means that Google will take care of daily maintenance tasks such as patches and downloads, thereby leaving happn to focus on enhancing their app.
- Consistent quality and minimal downtime ensures that happn will always be available to their trusted clients.
Do you want to see what Google Cloud Platform can do for your business? Get in touch with one of our experts today and redeem your free IT consultation.
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