Empowers everyone to work together to optimize the customer experience
Reduces mean time to resolution, freeing up the equivalent of an extra headcount
Builds confidence and supports greater agility for faster iterations and innovation
Supports a DevOps model, helping development and operations team function more cohesively
Trulia Makes Home Search Simpler with New Relic
Since 2005, Trulia has been simplifying home search by giving home buyers, sellers, renters, and real estate agents everything they need to be successful in the process. Through its innovative mobile and Web products, Trulia provides home buyers, sellers, and renters essential information about the house, the neighborhood, and the process while connecting them with the right agents.
By the end of 2014, Trulia was helping 55 million home seekers every month find their perfect place to live and connecting them with one of the more than 77,000 real estate agents who use the Trulia platform to reach consumers.
Trulia currently has over 1,000 servers—both physical and virtual. The company’s environment is primarily open source, with a typical LAMP application stack: Linux, Apache, MySQL, and PHP. Apache Solr is the search platform, and incoming property data is stored in Hadoop clusters. The mobile site is built on Node.js, with mobile apps built in Objective-C and Java.
Maintaining optimal performance in a data-intensive environment
Data is the lifeblood of Trulia. The company tries to use as much data as possible—including neighborhood crime statistics, proximity to the best schools, and home sales history—to give buyers, sellers, and agents the information they need to make the best possible decisions.
With so much data playing a key role in every interaction, maintaining optimal performance is more important than ever. “Our users really appreciate the depth of information we provide, but they’re not necessarily going to wait for it,” says Chris Sessions, director of operations at Trulia. “We need to keep our environment running in peak condition to deliver on those expectations.”
Prior to New Relic, Trulia depended on a number of open source and homegrown monitoring tools to diagnose performance issues, but nothing was elective at helping diagnose the problem. “It was always a needle-in-a-haystack situation,” says Louis Bennett, director of engineering at Trulia. “We would need several engineers to identify a root cause, which could take forever. We obviously needed a better way of doing things.”
Discovering the advantages of New Relic
Then a new team member suggested using New Relic. Deployment was easy, requiring minimal setup and ramp-up time. Before long, the Trulia team was using New Relic to diagnose issues and spot potential problems across a complex environment. “I thought, wow, why haven’t we used this before? This is truly awesome,” says Sessions.
Today, Trulia uses a suite of New Relic products. First, New Relic® APM™ helps Trulia manage the performance of web applications. With New Relic® Servers™, the company can view and analyze critical system metrics— including CPU usage, physical memory, and network activity—across more than 700 servers. New Relic® Mobile™ monitors Trulia’s native mobile apps, while New Relic® Browser™ provides unprecedented visibility into the enduser experience on its web and API products. “We monitor everything we can,” says Sessions. “That includes our main website, our mobile website, the APIs that power our mobile apps, the apps themselves, and internal services.”
Throughout Trulia’s offices, giant monitors display New Relic data so everyone can see how the latest code changes are affecting performance in production. “By making key metrics visible to anyone in the office, we can initiate more conversations between developers, operations, the CTO, and even the CEO,” says Sessions. “We also tie New Relic into our single sign-on system, where any developer can access it without asking for specific credentials. That empowers everyone to see how new changes will behave in production.”
Deepening the DevOps Approachwith Hackathons
“New Relic really gets the DevOps ideologies.” Chris Sessions, Director of Operations, Trulia
Trulia has had a DevOps approach since the beginning, but credits New Relic with keeping the teams cohesive as the company has grown. “Using New Relic gets everyone on the same page so there’s no ambiguity,” says Chris Sessions, director of operations at Trulia.
Trulia’s director of engineering, Louis Bennett, agrees: “One of the most important things for us at Trulia is to make sure that people don’t think of themselves as either a development person or an operations person. That enables us as a team to learn what’s really affecting production performance and most importantly to address and fix things that affect our customers.”
Every week, the engineering and operations teams at Trulia come together for a “performance hackathon” where they identify potential performance issues and ways to make the customer experience better. Bennett explains the format of the weekly meeting: “We’ll focus on a particular New Relic transaction and then using real data we can determine how the site can be faster in production.” Sessions adds, “We’re all going for the same goal and New Relic lets us solve these problems together.”
“New Relic helps us troubleshoot issues so quickly, it’s like an additional member of the ops team. It frees up a lot of time for us to focus on bigger and better things.”
Seeing errors and performance problems in real time
With New Relic APM, a slow database query is no longer a major obstacle. Instead of painstakingly reviewing text logs to find the source, engineers can instantly see how much time a query spends in the PHP layer, database layer, or external HTTP layer. Once they identify the source, they can zero in on a fix. “New Relic helps us get down to the functional level to see what’s happening in our code base,” says Bennett. “I’ve discovered things about our applications that I wouldn’t have understood or guessed otherwise.”
For mobile app releases, New Relic Mobile can immediately identifyperformance degradations within the apps. Monitoring back-end API servers only provides a partial picture of mobile app performance across different devices and operating systems, failing to show what end users are experiencing in real time. “We could pick up our own phones and start testing the apps ourselves, but that’s really not an optimal approach,” says Sessions. “New Relic Mobile gives us a complete picture of what our mobile app users are actually seeing.”
“Quite often, site performance is something that’s hard to discuss in a way that is either eloquent or comprehensible to someone who’s not in the code all day long. But saying we rolled out this release and using New Relic to show a positive step change associated with it has resonated very well with our non-technical staff.”
Focusing on bigger, better, and faster
New Relic helps Trulia be more agile, enabling the teams to iterate faster and further to improve customer experience. “We’re now more willing to make changes and take a little bit more risk,” says Sessions. The Trulia team now has more time to spend on making those changes because New Relic drastically reduces the mean time to resolution for production issues. “New Relic helps us troubleshoot issues so quickly, it’s like an additional member of the ops team,” says Sessions. “It frees up a lot of time for us to focus on bigger and better things.”
New Relic even helps build understanding with non-engineering types. “Quite often, site performance is something that’s hard to discuss in a way that is either eloquent or comprehensible to someone who’s not in the code all day long,” says Bennett. “But saying we rolled out this release and using New Relic to show a positive step change associated with it has resonated very well with our non-technical staff."
As a technology company focused on real estate, Trulia ultimately sees New Relic as “the voice of the customer” reflecting the impact of Trulia’s apps and websites on househunters. Bennett explains: “New Relic helps us take an otherwise complicated process and make it unexpectedly enjoyable.”
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