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Why New Relic

Provides an easy-to-use SaaS solution for monitoring application performance and user experience

Highlights
  • Optimized performance through more in-depth monitoring
  • Facilitated DevOps approach through increased collaboration and testing
  • Saved significant sys admin costs

simplesurance Uses New Relic to Improve Performance of E-Commerce Insurance Platform

Thanks to a good idea, great software, an innovative platform, and a wealth of insurance and technology expertise, Berlin-based simplesurance Group has gone from low-budget start-up to hugely successful cross-seller of e-commerce product insurance in just a little over three years. Straddling the $4.5 trillion world insurance market and the $1.5 trillion world e-commerce market, simplesurance wants nothing less than total market dominance—or in the words of its own mission statement, “to be the world’s leading e-commerce provider for product insurances.” With operations in five Europeans countries and plans to expand into the United States and Canada shortly, simplesurance is making its move.

Ensuring uptime for partners and customers

Although simplesurance started small—with a traditional data center and a single monolithic application—its rapid growth soon demanded a different approach to technology. With investors loving the idea of cross-selling insurance for everything from smart phones to travel at the point of sale in e-commerce, the company raised a significant amount of money during its first year. Suddenly, the team realized it needed to rethink its IT infrastructure.

“Once we saw that the business was going to grow bigger every day, we knew we had to make some major technology changes,” says simplesurance co-founder and chief technical officer Ismail Asci. The first of these was moving its cross-selling platform to the cloud (via Amazon Web Services) so that it could scale with ease and automate deployment. With that move, simplesurance also began converting to a more serviceoriented architecture. Today, the company has smaller, more maintainable applications written in a variety of languages.

Since Day 1, however, uptime has been of the utmost importance—since if simplesurance’s platform is down, its partners’ transactions are disrupted as well, resulting in a lot of angry customers. In the early days, simplesurance relied on the free version of New Relic to monitor its servers, but with the new infrastructure, the team wanted to be able to dig even deeper into performance, in order to identify bottlenecks in both its own applications and on the client side to improve customer experience and better serve its partners.

“With New Relic, we’re able to constantly upgrade the user experience because we’re always testing and monitoring, and we’re always looking for ways to increase performance. As a result we’re able to reduce response times and eliminate bottlenecks before they impact customers.”

Ismail Asci Co-Founder and Chief Technical Officer, simplesurance

Optimizing performance by measuring every layer

Although Asci and team looked at other solutions, it didn’t take long for them to come back to New Relic. “I looked at cheaper alternatives,” says Asci. “But I couldn’t find anything that could compete. New Relic APM is easy to install, simple to use, and completely reliable. Plus, someone else maintains it, so we don’t have to spend time and money on that. This is a hard combination to beat.”

A year-and-a-half after deploying New Relic, simplesurance is using New Relic to monitor and analyze every aspect of its IT environment—starting with the all-important AWS cloud. Says Asci, “New Relic APM and New Relic Servers allow us to measure the performance of each layer of our AWS cloud—from Amazon Relational Database Service (Amazon RDS) to our Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) instances and load balancers."

If there’s a problem at the AWS level, we can see the performance bottleneck immediately through the associated peak in New Relic’s main graphic. This makes the issue instantly identifiable and actionable for us.”

simplesurance has gained this same kind of visibility into the client side of things with New Relic Browser. Explains Asci, “We have a client-side application programming interface that does the insurance-productmatching. In the past, it was very difficult to pinpoint client-side problems because we couldn’t tell whether they were coming from our website or our partners’ websites. New Relic Browser has eliminated that problem. As a result, our front-end developers are able to keep improving the application.”

“With everyone looking at the same data, there’s no disagreement as to the source of problems. New Relic contributes hugely to the collaborative process, and to ensuring that bugs are eliminated before anything goes live.”

Ismail Asci Co-Founder and Chief Technical Officer, simplesurance

Constant monitoring for a constantly improved user experience

For Asci, the biggest benefits of New Relic are the constant improvements they facilitate. “With New Relic, we’re able to constantly upgrade the user experience because we’re always testing and monitoring, and we’re always looking for ways to increase performance,” he says. “As a result we’re able to reduce response times and eliminate bottlenecks before they impact customers.”

New Relic has also enabled simplesurance to get to the root of some thorny problems that it would have otherwise been hard-pressed to solve. For example, when the platform went down after experiencing serious spikes in traffic following the airing of some new TV commercials—even though it should have been able to handle the increased load with ease— the simplesurance team used New Relic to pinpoint a problem in the cache handler on the website. Says Asci, “This was one of the most critical discoveries we made with New Relic—and one we may not have gotten to the bottom of without it.”

New Relic solutions have also facilitated the test-driven development critical to the DevOps approach and processes that simplesurance has adopted. “With everyone looking at the same data, there’s no disagreement as to the source of problems,” says Asci. “New Relic contributes hugely to the collaborative process, and to ensuring that bugs are eliminated before anything goes live.”

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