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Why New Relic

Designed to provide end-to-end visibility across services and applications, from data sources to the customer experience

  • Delivered insight into areas of potential optimization, saving the company more than $300,000
  • Supports agile development and developer operations with in-depth performance data
  • Helps FlightStats to identify and block scrapers on its web properties, and redirect that tra!c to its paid APIs, reducing scraper traffic by 50 percent

New Relic Helps FlightStats Improve the Travel Experience of Millions of Travelers around the World

FlightStats is the leader in global flight data services and solutions to travelers and the companies that serve them. The company provides real-time global flight information which includes about 90,000 global flights per day, serving airlines and airports, travel agencies, developers, consumers, and others. More than 6 million unique visitors per month rely on FlightStats’ real-time flight and airport tracking tools to optimize their day of travel. FlightStats delivers nearly 100 million monthly impressions to travelers around the globe, across the web and mobile devices.


FlightStats has a two-tier Java-based technology stack with more lightweight services being written in Node.js. On the client side, FlightStats uses HTML5, CSS, and JavaScript. The company maintains its own private cloud infrastructure, as well as utilizing public cloud services from Amazon Web Services.

Helping travelers optimize their experience

FlightStats’ mission is unique: they want to transform the travel experience through data, helping travel industry participants improve the experience for travelers through better visibility and through solutions that mitigate the impact of disruptions.. “We have data on 90% of the major commercial flights in the world.” says Chad Berkley, chief technology officer at FlightStats. “The data we have can be applied to dozens of use cases that rely on real-time or even predictive information.”

“Our competitive advantage is not simply having great data, but also our ability to manage, analyze, and distribute that data,” says Tod Hutchinson, chief executive officer and co-founder at FlightStats. Essentially, FlightStats recognized a big data problem that it wanted to solve. Hutchinson explains, “We needed to gain better visibility into our data sources as well as understand how our users are interacting with our products. We wanted better visibility into how our customers were using our services and our data.”
That understanding is critical in helping FlightStats to meet its goal of building the highest quality data services and solutions with timeliness and speed to market. “We iterate often, use continuous deployment and continuous integration,” says Berkley. “But we’re constantly seeking ways to shorten our time to market even more.” That’s why Berkley and his team began to seek out a solution that would provide “a transparent view into who was using our data and what they were using it for.” They believe that such insight will help FlightStats to make smarter product decisions, faster.

Gaining new insight into the customer experience

Today, FlightStats relies on the entire New Relic Platform®, including: New Relic APMTM, New Relic BrowserTM, New Relic InsightsTM, New Relic MobileTM, New Relic PluginsTM, New Relic ServerTM, and New Relic SyntheticsTM. New Relic is embedded throughout the FlightStats technology platform and used across the engineering, operations, business, and customer support areas of the business. FlightStats uses New Relic for full-stack monitoring across more than 95 percent of the company’s products.

Hutchinson and Berkley agree that New Relic is now a core part of the FlightStats solution and integral to the day-to-day workflow. Adds Berkley, “We have screens running New Relic all over our office, with dashboards to give people quick, heads-up data about what is going on at any given moment. Plus, we are literally creating more New Relic Insight dashboards on a daily basis.”

New Relic Insights has given FlightStats greater visibility into exactly how its data is being propagated and how it affects the customer experience. “The New Relic Platform helps us understand and have visibility into all of the data sources that we source and process, says Hutchinson. “At the same time, it’s giving us good insight into our user base.”

Thomas Burke, software engineer at FlightStats uses New Relic Insights to understand how professional users and casual travelers make use of the website and FlightStats data services and solutions. “It really helps us make better decisions into which features should be available for our data solutions, website and mobile applications,” says Burke.

A smooth landing for businesses and travelers

Using New Relic, FlightStats can respond quickly and act faster to issues that impact the customer experience. “New Relic helps us to understand what is potentially breaking in the environment more quickly, sometimes even before it happens,” says Alex Witherspoon, software engineer at FlightStats. “With New Relic Insights, we can see exactly how efficiently our systems are running and determine if there’s a problem worth pursuing,” says Witherspoon. “We’ve already realized $300,000 in savings this year thanks to optimization and we’re not done yet.”

The FlightStats team also appreciates that New Relic is designed to provide a unified tool that supports the company’s DevOps approach. “There’s less friction now that we have New Relic,” says Witherspoon. “It has allowed us to have a common language across the company, whether we’re talking to a developer, an IT engineer, or someone in marketing, sales, or management.”

The insight provided by New Relic also helps FlightStats keep tabs on unpaid commercial use of its data. “We use New Relic Insights to monitor and detect scrapers who are using our data without permission,” says Berkley. “We can then redirect that traffic to our paid APIs.” Thanks to New Relic, FlightStats has experienced a 50-percent decrease in scraper traffic to its website.

For a company with data at the core of its value proposition, New Relic has been a natural fit for FlightStats. “If I were to start my own company tomorrow, the first thing I would do is to monitor all of my applications with New Relic,” says Berkley. “I would start from the ground up using the metrics and data from the New Relic Platform to inform decisions that would really affect the business.”

"With New Relic Insights, we can see exactly how efficiently our systems are running and determine if there’s a problem worth pursuing. We’ve already realized $300,000 in savings this year thanks to optimization and we’re not done yet."

Alex Witherspoon Software Engineer, FlightStats

"If I were to start my own company tomorrow, the first thing I would do is monitor all of my applications with New Relic. I would start from the ground up using the metrics and data from the New Relic Platform to inform decisions that would really affect the business."

Chad Berkley Chief Technology Officer, FlightStats

With worldwide data and coverage, FlightStats needed to have a global data center presence as well. The answer was Amazon Web Services. Today, FlightStats operates a hybrid cloud environment, with public cloud resources from Amazon Web Services complementing the company’s private cloud. The global presence helps improve the customer experience for users around the world while public cloud resources help FlightStats to handle large amounts of data quickly and cost effectively.

New Relic was instrumental in helping FlightStats move to Amazon Web Services and optimize its usage of Amazon resources. “With New Relic, we were able to move workloads to Amazon Web Services quicker, determine which workloads would benefit the most from migrating, and make better decisions about provisioning for those workloads,” says Alex Witherspoon, software engineer for FlightStats. “For instance, the New Relic plugin for Amazon Web Services gave us data that helped us understand how our Amazon Relational Database Service instances were scaling and showed us where we were oversizing.”

Decreasing latency for users of FlightStats’ applications and services is another benefit the company is seeing with Amazon Web Services and New Relic. “With Amazon Web Services, we can move API endpoints closer to our geographically diverse customers to decrease the overall latency that they experience,” says Chad Berkley, chief technology officer at FlightStats. “For example, New Relic helped us identify a slow API endpoint affecting one of our customers. By moving our services closer to that customer in the cloud, we eliminated 200+ milliseconds of latency.”

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