Only way to get deep insights into end-to-end mobile user experience
Greater agility and faster development
Better understanding of global user behavior
Deeper insight into performance supports optimization and allocation of engineering resources
Shoto Lives Up to Its Promise of Connecting the World Thanks to New Relic
Shoto was founded in 2013 after Sachin Dev Duggal, co-founder and chief wizard, realized that online photo sharing was broken. There was no easy, yet private, way to share images amongst friends and family. With its mobile app for iOS and Android, the company’s vision is to connect the world using the power of shared moments and memories.
“Being a small company, we have to make decisions every day about what to build and what not to build. New Relic provides data that helps us make those decisions.”
Shoto runs eight servers across 16 hosts primarily using Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud. Its deployment stack includes Ruby on Rails, MongoDB, and Redis. The company also relies on Amazon Simple Storage Service for storing photos.
Developing with limited insight into app performance
“Shoto is really exciting because it not only solves the problem of having to nag your friends and family for photos, but it also gets those photos into your hands simply and easily,” says Brian Norton, co-founder and chief hacker at Shoto. The Shoto app uses the meta data within photos to handle all of the hard work of finding undiscovered memories. Shoto groups the photos into albums, suggests friends who were there, and asks if you’d like to privately share.
In the early days of the app, when there were problems or when a network request took too long, Shoto developers used an analytics tool as a “pseudo monitor.” “It didn’t really provide any insights,” says Norton. “It alerted you that there was a problem, but left you with big holes in trying to figure out what happened, why it happened, and how to fix it.”
From the start, delivering a fast, simple, and private photo sharing experience was goal #1 at Shoto. That’s why the engineering team knew it needed better data about the end-to-end user experience – from the app to the backend processes that support it.
Turning to New Relic for a complete picture of the user experience
Norton used New Relic application performance monitoring at a previous company before launching Shoto and knew he wanted to use it again with the new app. Today, Shoto takes advantage of New Relic APM™ and New Relic Mobile™ to monitor its application, main API, and other supporting services such as delivery and copy, AB testing, and analytics.
“When you have a seven-day lead time to get something new on the App Store, it’s really helpful to have a tool like New Relic that lets you be confident in pushing new features out,” says Rohan Patel, lead Android developer at Shoto. Patel finds the crash reporting feature within New Relic Mobile especially beneficial. “Crash reporting is absolutely crucial to any major application,” says Patel. “As a fast-paced start-up, we’ve used New Relic Mobile to identify the areas we need to focus on first.” New Relic provides information that Patel and the rest of the engineering team can use to understand what the user was doing at the time of the crash and what steps were taken to get there.
The powerful combination of New Relic APM and New Relic Mobile gives Shoto the deeper insight it needs into the complete end-to-end mobile user experience, with detailed information from the app through the network and to the backend services powering the app. “Working on the mobile side, I didn’t always have a very clear picture of what was happening on the backend,” says Patel. “I had to check server logs to see what happened when certain requests were made. Now, with New Relic, I can see instantly any errors that the server reported and know if it was something caused by the frontend.”
New Relic Partner Spotlight: Amazon Web Services
“With Amazon Web Services, everything became super-fast.” Brian Norton, Co-founder and Chief Hacker, Shoto
After starting with a third-party, cloud platform as a service, Shoto decided to switch to Amazon Web Services (AWS) because it offered greater flexibility and better integration across Shoto’s deployment stack.
The decision has been a good one for Shoto, which also saw performance improvements with the new environment as well. “We’re able to contact Amazon Simple Storage Service, where we store photos, much faster,” says Norton. “Everything became super-fast.”
Today, Shoto runs most of its primary services on Amazon Web Services and uses New Relic to monitor performance of the environment. “When you start managing servers yourself, getting insight and understanding into what’s going on becomes critical,” says Norton. “With New Relic, we can see exactly what’s happening with each of our instances.”
“New Relic has helped Shoto gain more visibility across the entire development spectrum. It gives the backend staff a little bit more visibility into what’s happening on the frontend, and the frontend more visibility into what’s happening on the backend. That’s helped us develop much faster.”
Gaining visibility for faster development
Agility and speed to market are core competencies for technology start-ups. Norton credits New Relic with helping Shoto become more agile. Patel couldn’t agree more and believes that New Relic speeds development as well. “New Relic has helped Shoto gain more visibility across the entire development spectrum,” says Patel. “It gives the backend staff more visibility into what’s happening on the frontend, and the frontend more visibility into what’s happening on the backend. That’s helped us develop much faster.”
New Relic also helps Shoto better understand user behavior and uptake of new features to inform decisions about development priorities. “We can see whether new features are working as planned, validate assumptions about usage, identify what’s not working, and make adjustments to the app based on that information,” says Patel. Adds Norton: “Being a small company, we have to make decisions every day about what to build and what not to build. New Relic provides data that helps us make those decisions.”
Norton appreciates the global picture the company gets using New Relic. “We use New Relic daily to understand what happened overnight as users around the world interact with our app,” he says. “One of the things we learned is that for countries with high latency and low bandwidth, we needed to adapt our infrastructure to better address those user experiences.” If the past is any indication, Shoto will soon be seeing users in places it hasn’t even imagined yet, and New Relic will be there to help pave the way.
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