When it comes to booking a hotel room and getting the best deal, timely access to a wide selection of inventory is everything. A consumer visiting a travel site to search for and book an accommodation has come to expect real-time information on availability, price, property details, and more. This experience is often delivered behind the scenes by Expedia Affiliate Network (EAN).

As the B2B partnership brand of Expedia Group, one of the world’s largest travel companies, EAN delivers technology and property supply to some of the world’s leading airlines, travel agencies, and consumer and loyalty brands. EAN’s product portfolio is comprised of developer-focused APIs and templates, including the EAN Rapid API, which provides access to data from over 400,000 properties in 25,000 destinations worldwide.

In November 2017, Expedia, Inc., announced it would go all in on Amazon Web Services (AWS) as part of a corporate-wide initiative to focus its engineering teams on innovation rather than hardware procurement and data center management. Today, the company continues to move its 20 years’ worth of core-business workloads, digital properties, mobile applications, and legacy platforms largely from owned data centers to AWS. Within the EAN brand, New Relic is providing a critical layer of visibility to support the migration process. 

Architecting for innovation at EAN

Historically, EAN’s core product suite was architected as a single monolithic application running on-premises in Expedia data centers. EAN realized it could be more agile and prescriptive with how it delivered product enhancements if it broke up the monolith to deliver a logical set of services, using containers and microservices where possible, aligned with customer use cases focused on accommodation listings, availability, booking and payments, and content.  

“By rearchitecting our applications to be more modular, we knew our developers could deliver functionality more quickly without adding additional operational complexity,” says Dale Lovelace, principal engineer at EAN. For EAN partners, modularity translates into easier implementation because they can pick and choose relevant API services depending on business priorities. Refactoring would also allow EAN to take deeper advantage of the benefits delivered by AWS, resulting in more powerful, better-performing products.

Cloud monitoring for success

As the DevOps teams at EAN began the process of rearchitecting its platform, it became clear it would need a monitoring solution better designed to support application delivery in the cloud. EAN’s incumbent APM tool was unreliable and not designed for use by a broad audience, which made communication between IT operations and developers needlessly complex. The tool was also difficult to manage, requiring manual deployment and administration, and it didn’t provide visibility into key components of EAN’s application delivery environment.

“We’ve been an agile development organization for years, which has evolved into a DevOps culture over time,” says Lovelace. “As we moved to a services-oriented architecture, we needed a better solution for monitoring—one designed to support scalable, reliable application delivery on top of a modernized infrastructure.”

Better observability with New Relic

EAN replaced its existing tool with the New Relic platform, designed to support full-stack observability in a cloud environment from both a capabilities and administrative perspective. Armed with New Relic APM, New Relic Infrastructure, New Relic Insights, New Relic Synthetics, New Relic Browser, and New Relic Mobile, both the IT operations team and developers at EAN now have access to data to support quality standards for performance, availability, and reliability for refactored services running in AWS. 

Recognizing how these new capabilities would evolve the DevOps function, the IT operations team implemented a one-day New Relic training program for developers including how to use Insights, covering 90% of the organization. This proved to be a best practice and delivered immediate ROI associated with identifying and resolving issues faster using DevOps methodologies.  

Cloud adoption streamlined

“As we migrated our applications, we instrumented everything before we went into production and then dug into KPIs using Insights to identify issues or performance bottlenecks,” says Lovelace. “Using New Relic, we could pinpoint the root cause of an issue almost instantly. We never had to wonder if the source of an issue was in the application layer or the underlying infrastructure.” 

“Using New Relic, we could pinpoint the root cause of an issue almost instantly. We never had to wonder if the source of an issue was in the application layer or the underlying infrastructure.”

Dale Lovelace Principal Engineer at Expedia Affiliate Network

New Relic APM monitors all application services, providing reporting on error rates, transactional data, application activity, and overall application health. Using New Relic Infrastructure integrations with AWS, EAN has visibility into key cloud usage and performance indicators, including CPU utilization, average server response time, server response status, and more, all delivered through packaged and custom Insights dashboards.

As a result, EAN was able to deploy its refactored applications with much greater speed and agility than if it had attempted to use its previous monitoring tool. “Application refactoring for the cloud without proper observability in place is a recipe for disaster,” warns Lovelace. “You can’t skip instrumentation just to get into production faster. That being said, if your monitoring tool isn’t set up to operate well in a dynamic cloud environment, instrumentation will slow you down.”

With New Relic, instrumenting everything was swift and efficient, helping the team at EAN get its refactored applications into production about 50% faster than if it had used its previous monitoring tool. “New Relic is unmatched in its ability to provide scalable, seamless full-stack visibility,” says Lovelace.

From a planning perspective, EAN also finds New Relic helpful in aligning the right AWS service with the right workload. For example, EAN’s Hotel Content Service delivers over 13 million rich property images and over 7.5 million room images with captions. Because the content is pulled from legacy systems and updates the API using a scheduled batch process, the organization chose a serverless approach leveraging AWS Lambda. Using a New Relic Infrastructure integration, the organization can pull data out of Lambda and view serverless metrics alongside other stack metrics in a New Relic Insights dashboard. This enables EAN to get the compute resource optimization benefits of serverless without compromising on observability.

“New Relic is unmatched in its ability to provide scalable, seamless full-stack visibility”

Dale Lovelace Principal Engineer at Expedia Affiliate Network

Faster deployment, fewer incidents, and better performance

With better support for application delivery in the cloud, EAN is providing a better experience for partners, one that allows the organization to evolve with changing business needs and growth targets. EAN Rapid’s shop API is 55% lighter thanks to refactoring and performance enhancements delivered by AWS, and supported by New Relic.

Overall deployment time has also been dramatically reduced. “Before we migrated, it could take weeks to deploy new instances,” explains Lovelace. “Today, we can spin up server instances, instrument our code with New Relic, and go into production in minutes. Deployment time is a fraction of what it used to be.”

The same goes for mean-time-to-resolution (MTTR). Prior to using New Relic, the IT operations team had to manually pull data to send to developers when an incident occurred or a bug needed to be fixed. “Now developers can access troubleshooting data on their own using New Relic Insights,” says Lovelace. “Issue resolution time is at least 50% faster as a result.”

As EAN continues to lead the industry in delivering technology to provide a better travel experience for people around the world, New Relic will help ensure reliable, scalable, and high-quality software delivery.

“Before we migrated, it could take weeks to deploy new instances. Today, we can spin up server instances, instrument our code with New Relic, and go into production in minutes. Deployment time is a fraction of what it used to be.”

Dale Lovelace Principal Engineer at Expedia Affiliate Network