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Why New Relic

Access to powerful out-of-the-box visualizations, helpful alerts, great ease of use, advanced drilldown functions, and a single source of truth across multiple environments.

Highlights
  • Visibility into software performance, customer experience, and business metrics
  • Empowers developers with a single source of truth
  • Improves the accuracy of capacity planning ahead of high-traffic events

Read technical deep-dive MLBAM case study here

MLBAM – Winning a High-Stakes Game with Help From New Relic

It’s the bottom of the ninth. Two on, two out, the home team is down by a single run. Millions of people are watching, in the park, on television, and now, because of Major League Baseball Advanced Media’s (MLBAM) world-class streaming technology operations, on a wide variety of computers and mobile and connected devices. Each fan is glued to the action as the star closer goes into the stretch and fires the ball toward…

What if the action froze or buffered right there for the people around the world watching the streaming video? What if they couldn’t see whether the pitch turned into a game-ending out or a walk-off win? There’d be an awful lot of very unhappy baseball fans.

Those are the stakes for MLBAM, the 16-year-old technology company of Major League Baseball dedicated to delivering world-class digital experiences across all forms of interactive media. Best known for developing the platform that lets fans watch Major League Baseball games on a wide variety of devices, it does much more for Major League Baseball and a variety of other high-profile media partners—all managed with help from New Relic across its entire technology stack.

Baseball’s tech innovation

Born in 2000 to build and run all technology services for Major League Baseball (MLB) and its 30 teams, MLBAM live streams every MLB game among its 10 million live streams daily. MLB.com owned and operated properties drew an estimated 25 million daily visitors and the MLB.com At Bat app logged more than 6.9 billion total minutes used by fans, making it the top mobile sports app in 2015.

MLBAM’s Statcast powered by Amazon Web Services, meanwhile, tracks advanced game and player analytics, which are made available to teams and fans. When the TV play-by-play announcer says a ball thrown from the shortstop to the first baseman traveled at 76 mph and hit the first baseman’s glove 37.4 milliseconds before the base runner got there, that’s MLBAM at work.

And MLBAM goes far beyond baseball: it has dozens of sports, news and entertainment customers, to which it provides over-the-top streaming and app development.

It’s difficult to be perfect at MLBAM’s scale and velocity, but experts credit the company with building a “gold standard” internet video infrastructure. Indeed, by leveraging its marketing-leading expertise in digital media distribution, MLBAM has become “one of the world’s top tech players,” according to CBS News.

"New Relic empowers our developers to experiment and work fast without compromising on the quality of the MLB fan experience."

Sean Curtis Senior Vice President of Engineering, MLBAM

New Relic: Like turning on stadium lights

To achieve that status, MLBAM (insiders use the nickname “BAM”) has embraced a DevOps approach to application development and deployment, moved many of its services to the cloud via Amazon Web Services, and turned to New Relic for shared, end-to-end visibility into how its apps are performing and the customer experience it’s delivering.

The goal, MLBAM execs say, is to identify and fix problems before users complain about them. “The earlier we can find out there’s an issue, the better our ability to preserve the customer experience,” explains Sean Curtis, senior vice president of engineering at MLBAM. “We're competing against the biggest and best platforms in the world, so you have to provide the best customer experience.”

Before New Relic, though, that didn’t always happen. “Information about performance issues often came from users,” recalls Shawn Will Smith, associate director at MLBAM. “Then the engineers would start trying to figure out what was going wrong.”

But with New Relic, “all of a sudden it was just like the stadium lights went on and we could see the whole field. We could see every single play that was going on,” says Paulo Vaca, director of web software engineering at MLBAM. “It was just an awesome amount of visibility into how our stacks were performing.”

MLBAM’s automated scoreboard

Unlike the latest fashion in ballpark design, there’s nothing manual about the performance scoreboards MLBAM built with New Relic. The company relies on a suite of New Relic products in both pre-deployment and production servers.

The rollout started with using New Relic APM™ to optimize the server-side stack by gathering “out of the box” metrics, delivering transparency into performance, and generating alerts as needed. It expanded over time to include New Relic Browser™—at first to confirm if the server side was functioning correctly but eventually for its ability to break out factors like page-load and library-load times across all different browsers, to instrument usage more granularly, and to more easily track down and “squash” JavaScript errors.

New Relic Insights™, meanwhile, helps MLBAM to more easily surface data from other New Relic products. And because mobile app performance is so often affected by factors beyond MLBAM’s own backend, the company is now getting started with New Relic Mobile™ to track performance of its many mobile apps, says MLBAM’s Mike Leonard. New Relic Servers™, and New Relic Synthetics are also playing increasing roles, including for transactional synthetics monitoring, and MLBAM is currently considering generating its own custom metrics. Put it all together, and MLBAM now has access to automated cross-team views and metrics of how its applications are performing.

New Relic is also integrated into MLBAM’s continuous delivery process, where it increases confidence in software deployments, and increases the frequency of new releases and updates. “New Relic empowers our developers to experiment and work fast without compromising on the quality of the MLB fan experience,” says Curtis.

Once applications are in production, New Relic helps MLBAM keep a watchful eye on performance, with New Relic Alerts™ notifying the appropriate technical teams any time a critical threshold is exceeded. “New Relic is normally the first thing that gives us that heads up,” Curtis says. “We can immediately address whatever is going on at that point without necessarily having users call in and complain.”

"New Relic helps the organization collect data across the entire ecosystem that allows us to understand how we're doing and how we can make it better. You can’t make something super high quality until you can measure it, and if you can’t measure it, how do you know it’s super high quality?"

Joe Inzerillo Executive Vice President and Chief Technology Officer, MLBAM

New Relic data helps MLBAM better serve fans

Joe Inzerillo, executive vice president and chief technology officer at MLBAM, explains that “New Relic helps the organization collect data across the entire ecosystem that allows us to understand how we're doing and how we can make it better. You can’t make something super high quality until you can measure it, and if you can’t measure it, how do you know it’s super high quality?”

“We’re very fortunate to work with passionate folks who are true baseball fans,” concludes Krone. “They eat, live, and breathe our products. New Relic gives them the visibility they need to support their passion and build something fans will truly enjoy.” And to help make sure customers won’t be left in the dark during the most important moments of the big game.

For more in-depth technical use cases on how MLBAM uses New Relic, click here.

Major League Baseball trademarks and copyrights are used with permission of the applicable MLB entities. Visit MLB.com

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