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Why New Relic

Integration of New Relic into each workflow ensures optimization of product and platform every step of the way

  • Supported cloud migration, ensuring smooth application transfer and reduction of throughput by 20%
  • Enabled DevOps practice and increased accountability among DevOps organization
  • Saw improved Mobile app rating, from 2.8 to 4.1 stars

How Domain Rebuilt Its Business From the Ground Up

The most important part of any structure is the part that no one sees, but that keeps everything standing strong and tall: the foundation. The same can be said of a business.

With audience approaching 5 million users a month, Domain Group helps potential homebuyers make one of the biggest financial decisions in their life. After the company decentralized from its parent company Fairfax Media in 2012, it decided to completely transform its product development approach. With significant executive support and a boost to its technology budget, Domain’s engineering organization was given the opportunity to rebuild its own foundation from the ground up, re-imagining how it could leverage technology and progressive development methods to build products that wowed its customers.

The result of these renovations? A high-functioning team, with agile development practices, that actively embraces its modern technology stack.

Rebuilding the infrastructure

One way Domain Group planned to wow its customers was to become lightning fast. The company wanted to ship more features, faster than ever before. Every new construction project needs a team-of experienced builders, so the first step was to hire additional developers. The web team quickly grew from 6 developers to over 50. “And with that many people,” says Fabien Ruffin, technology director of the services group, “you can’t just do what you’ve always done. We decided to make changes to the core processes all at once. If we were willing to build new services, we might as well host them in the cloud.”

New Relic, which Domain Group was already using under Fairfax, supported the migration to AWS by providing insight during the application transfer. According to Technology Director Paul McManus, “New Relic allowed us to ensure that, when going from a data centre to Cloud infrastructure, our performance levels were consistent and our users were having the same, and hopefully better, experience.”

"Using New Relic, we were able to identify a single query which was using 20% of throughput to the server. We implemented a cache and it eliminated nearly all the traffic immediately."

Paul McManus Technology Director

During the planning phase of the migration, McManus was particularly worried about the amount of traffic going to and from Domain’s database server. “Using New Relic, we were able to identify a single query which was using 20% of throughput to the server. We implemented a cache and it eliminated nearly all the traffic immediately. It would have taken hours, if not longer, to locate that one query without New Relic and it almost certainly would have affected our customer experience.”

Being hosted in AWS accelerated Domain Group’s deployment process. “If we have a problem with a server, we scrap it and move on,” Ruffin explains, “which saves us time and allows us to focus on providing a great customer experience instead of managing our hosting solution.”

With greater flexibility to spin servers up and down, Domain Group now had the opportunity to practice more agile principles including DevOps and continuous delivery.

Moving faster with DevOps

Senior DevOps Engineer Gonzalo Servat explains that DevOps can often be a “moving target” that means different things to different companies. At Domain Group, it’s about empowering developers to own their code, from start to finish. Improved visibility into this code with the help of New Relic is crucial to this shift in development methodology—a change the team was hungry for. “What I like about the way we do things here at Domain is that time isn’t spent placing blame whenever a problem occurs,” says Servat. “Thanks to New Relic, you get to the root cause and work together to find the solution.”

For Domain, DevOps hasn’t just impacted the development organization and the way it does business; it all comes back to the customer. Says McManus, “The DevOps approach really supports customer experience because it allows us to move much quicker now than we could previously.”

Keeping home buyers happy

Today, the majority of Domain Group’s traffic comes via mobile, explains Android Team Lead Gary Lo, and the company prides itself on being the best real estate app on the market for Australian home hunters. While positive app store ratings are a good indicator of customer satisfaction, Lo knows that you have to rely on more than just reviews to improve your customer’s mobile experience.

Before using New Relic, says Lo, “bad reviews were the only insight we had into our customer experience.” New Relic Mobile helped Domain better understand the technical issues that were causing bad mobile experiences for customers. “New Relic gives us the exact pulse of what crashes are happening in the app to the exact minute. Being able to respond to those crashes by drilling down to the actual issues is invaluable,” he says. In the past two years the company’s Android app rating has risen from from 2.8 stars to 4.1 stars.

But Lo’s favorite feature is the ability to view Domain’s mobile connectivity into external services. “We recently had an issue with one of the Android applications. Turns out, it wasn’t the fault of our app, but a dependency of it,” he explains. “Using New Relic, we were able to find where the issue was and we managed to fix it in less than hour."

What’s next for a company that’s successfully accomplished such an impressive technology transformation?

“The goals for Domain will always be focused on innovating the real estate process,” explains McManus, “As we build new products it's crucial that we know the performance of those features and if they're giving our users a great experience. Key to that, is that New Relic is integrated into our workflow. It gets shipped in every piece of software or every website that we release, and will continue to allows us to optimize our platform every step of the way.”

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