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Why New Relic

Leadership in the Rails community

Highlights
  • New Relic allows Uken to boost productivity and optimize staff
  • Metrics-driven company finds New Relic analytics creates foundation for company growth
  • Performance issue root causes identified with New Relic

Canadian Gaming Company Uken Counts on New Relic Performance Analytics to Help Build Global Gaming Business

As our business becomes even more international with growth in Europe, Russia, and Asia, we work really hard to make sure that all our gamers are getting a great experience and New Relic is invaluable in that pursuit. It's core to our company's success.

Environment

Ruby on Rails, hosting partner, SoftLayer, has over 70 Uken dedicated servers.

“As our business becomes even more international with growth in Europe, Russia, and Asia, we work really hard to make sure that all our gamers are getting a great experience and New Relic is invaluable in that pursuit. It’s core to our company’s success.”

Mark Lampert Co-Founder

Challenges

Uken has eight games in production that in combination have been downloaded more than 20 million times. The games are browser-based applications that push the limits of browser capabilities. The company processes about 800 Million requests each month. All common processes needed to run its games and business, such as user authentication, notifications, payments, analytics, and an ad platform, are pulled out and made into one of the twelve internally shared services.

Although the majority of Uken gamers play on mobile devices, about 20% play on their desktops. Players can start a game on either, and easily move back and forth. Because the games have thick clients, end-user response time is only useful for the initial load of the game.

With self-imposed performance goals, Uken used basic tools and a few small Rails plugins to monitor and manage performance before they installed New Relic. This approach meant the team was spending valuable time performing manual work to determine what was going on and why some users were experiencing slow response times. The company quickly recognized that it needed some additional help. New Relic was already a strong player in the Rails community with their ‘Scaling Rails’ blog series. The game was on!

“Most of the time, we don’t even have to go into our own code or our own logs because New Relic has done the work for us. It has so much detail and points us to exactly what we need to look at. As our New Relic usage has increased, it has allowed us to eliminate other tools we were using. By having all the information in one place, it saves us lots of time.”

Mark Lampert Co-Founder

Solution

New Relic made it easy to try the product. After an effortless installation via the Ruby gem, Uken found the SaaS solution immediately useful.

Everyone at Uken uses the New Relic Dashboard since it aggregates all performance information into a single view and is displayed on TVs around the office. The team pays special attention to application server response times and their Apdex score. If the Apdex score drops, the team digs into the Transaction Traces or the slow transaction logs. Uken starts at the overview level and drills down to the game level to see what’s going on. They also look at the length of time the Apdex drop has been occurring, check to determine if the negative spike is already over, etc. New Relic allows the team to see if the issue is specific to an app server or if it relates to a specific transaction.

For example, Uken wants to ensure that all their gamers have an excellent experience, no matter where they are located. If the Apdex score falls in Russia, the team sees it and gets on it right away. The falling Apdex score may point them to their Content Delivery Network (CDN) that services Russia so they can quickly determine the source of the performance issue and fix it.

The Slow SQL Log allows the team to identify slow queries by time and frequency. The ability to review the last seven days of data makes it easier to understand precisely what else happened during the time of the slow query.

For example, the team can quickly check Disk I/O utilization.

When there is a slow transaction, New Relic breaks it down to time per component so the Uken team focuses on optimizing transactions with the slowest average response.

As Uken Co-Founder Mark Lampert says, “Most of the time, we don’t even have to go into our own code or our own logs because New Relic has done the work for us. It has so much detail and points us to exactly what we need to look at. As our New Relic usage has increased, it has allowed us to eliminate other tools we were using. By having all the information in one place, it saves us lots of time.”

“Using New Relic has helped us grow from a 2 person and 1 server company to a company with over 30 people and over 70 servers in just over 2 years… New Relic has helped in that we have one systems administrator and one half-time Dev Ops person. The specificity provided by New Relic is such a huge productivity boost that we’ve been able to run our business very streamlined.”

Mark Lampert Co-Founder

Results

New Relic has helped Uken tremendously. “Using New Relic has helped us grow from a two person and one server company to a company with over 30 people and over 70 servers in just over two years,” Mark comments. “And unlike most startups, we were profitable from almost day one. Beyond a small seed round, we are self-funded so profitability was and is essential to us. New Relic has helped in that we have one systems administrator and a halftime Dev Ops person. The specificity provided by New Relic is such a huge productivity boost that we’ve been able to run our business very streamlined.”

Uken continues to add more players, more games with additional features, and increasingly larger databases. New Relic helps the gaming company detect problems before players see them. It allows the company to stay ahead of the curve and be proactive rather than reactive. And that’s the objective: identify problems before they become noticeable to their gamers.

Mark adds, “We are a metrics-driven company and New Relic supports that approach. The New Relic Dashboard and charts provide the top level information we need, and the other New Relic features make it easy to dig deep quickly to find and correct the source of the problem. As our business becomes even more international with growth in Europe, Russia and Asia, we work really hard to make sure that all our gamers are getting a great experience and New Relic is invaluable in that pursuit. It’s core to our company success.”

Uken deploys new content and game updates on a weekly basis. One of the most powerful results of using New Relic is being able to see exactly how those changes affect their users. Mark sums it up this way, “Developers are much more aware of the impact of their changes. New Relic makes it easy to spot the source of the problem, which, in turn takes us right to the developer. Developers take even more ownership of their code and how it performs. It’s good for our team, for our gamers and good for our business!”

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