Whether a customer’s motor vehicle force (its fleet) consists of thousands of commercial vehicles or just a handful, Fleet Complete’s mission is the same: to help fleet-owning businesses thrive. The company does this by using Internet of Things (IoT) devices to collect and transmit operation-critical data from vehicles, assets, and mobile workforces (AKA telematics) to provide insights into everything from vehicle health to driver behaviour and more.

Today, Fleet Complete is the fastest-growing telematics provider in the world, serving more than 500,000 subscribers and 35,000 businesses in 17 countries while experiencing tenfold growth over the last several years.

Driving hyper-growth

Not content to rest on its laurels, Fleet Complete plans to continue this rapid expansion well into the future, aiming to grow the business by another factor of 10 over the next decade. Doing so, however, will require an enormous amount of data, since the more fleet information the company can collect, the more value (in terms of insights) it can deliver to customers.

Explains Fleet Complete Chief Technology Officer Alan Fong, “It’s not just about collecting data; it’s about layering that data to provide the best insights to customers. When you start layering different types of data (such as GPS data, vehicle health, and more), you can figure out all sorts of things—like how driving behaviour affects vehicle brake pads, or how potholes (and the speed at which they are encountered) affect vehicle components and life span.”

To process this massive influx of data (much of it stemming from the company’s spate of acquisitions), Fleet Complete built a data-ingestion pipeline, which it initially ran from its data center. It quickly became clear, however, that an on-premise solution simply could not keep pace with the growing number of data points the company was collecting (currently around a billion a day). For that, Fleet Complete needed the massive scalability that only a cloud-based platform could provide.

AWS cloud and New Relic monitoring: A seamless partnering of solutions

Charged with migrating Fleet Complete’s technology platform to the cloud as quickly and as efficiently as possible, Fong turned to Amazon Web Services (AWS) for its cloud platform and to New Relic for the application and infrastructure monitoring that would facilitate the move to the cloud and ensure seamless performance across all systems going forward.

For Fong, the choice of AWS was an easy one. “From prior experience, I understood the breadth of the AWS tools and the global presence of the AWS platform,” he says. “AWS would allow us to use machine learning and artificial intelligence models atop our own IP to improve the information we deliver to customers. Choosing AWS was a no-brainer.”

Getting a single, holistic view into the performance of Fleet Complete’s cloud-based platform, however, proved slightly more difficult due to the complexity of an environment that had grown through acquisition and contained a multitude of disparate systems. While Fleet Complete took a hard look at both the monitoring solutions that were already in place and some that were new to the company, New Relic emerged as the clear winner in proof-of-concept testing.

Explains Fleet Complete Architect Muhamad Samji, “New Relic gave us all the insights we needed—both globally and into the different pieces of our distributed application. For example, we can see what’s going on with the host as well as what’s happening with all the applications that reside on that host. So instead of a closed-off view that only reveals that an app is running slowly, New Relic provides visibility straight through to the host, so that we can understand why that app is running slowly. In addition, as we move data across our distributed system, New Relic enables us to see where bottlenecks are occurring as we call from service to service.”  

New Relic’s tight integration with AWS, its support for the breadth of tools that Fleet Complete employs (including Kubernetes for microservices), and its ability to display all of the analytics data in a single, customizable dashboard (viewable by the entire organization) further strengthened Fleet Complete’s decision to select New Relic. 

Facilitating a swift migration to the cloud

A year after Fleet Complete began its migration to the cloud, 60% of its environments have been shifted to AWS—a swift transition that New Relic played a huge part in facilitating.  

Explains Fong, “We didn’t want to disrupt the business as we migrated to the cloud, so having New Relic APM and New Relic Infrastructure monitoring installed across both our on-premise and cloud environments was crucial to the process.”

Samji agrees: “Being able to load-test on-prem and then use New Relic to ensure that we’re hitting those same numbers in the cloud (and not creating any hidden bottlenecks) has been key to our smooth and swift migration.”

New Relic has also helped Fleet Complete understand AWS usage, allowing the DevOps team to take the Amazon-provided Cost Explorer list of underutilized servers, and then use New Relic to see what’s actually going on in those servers so the company can make optimal use of them.

For Fleet Complete Principal Architect Jeff Hobeck, the seamless way in which New Relic works with AWS has been the icing on the cake. “We can see the AWS information we need in New Relic, and it involves very little setup. It’s almost like New Relic is native to AWS.”

“We can see the AWS information we need in New Relic, and it involves very little setup. It's almost like New Relic is native to AWS.”

Jeff Hobeck Principal Architect, Fleet Complete

Real-time delivery of mission-critical data

With New Relic deployed throughout Fleet Complete’s environment, Fong and team are excited about using it to provide the best possible digital customer experience.

“As the number of connected devices grows, so too does the amount of data flowing through our high-speed ingestion pipeline, explains Fong. “Being able to gather that data and deliver insights back to our customers in real time is absolutely crucial. Whether we’re talking about an emergency services company—where locating an asset and directing services to it can mean the difference between life and death—or a plumber or electrician with just a few vehicles, the information that Fleet Complete delivers is critical to the businesses we support. New Relic allows us to set alerts and triggers based on various KPIs, so that we can get ahead of problems before they occur and keep this all-important data flowing.”

Shifting to a DevOps model

Like many organizations today, Fleet Complete recognizes that a robust DevOps strategy, culture, and practices are essential for achieving maximum success in the cloud. For this reason, Fleet Complete has also been relying on New Relic to facilitate its shift to a DevOps model of development, focusing on continuous integration and delivery.

Says Fong, “Our DevOps team treats every release package that goes into production as a gift. We want to be able to run those packages in our staging environments with New Relic monitoring to ensure that what happens there will be representative of what occurs in our production environment. That way, when a release is put into production using the same tool sets, there are no surprises; we know exactly how it’s going to run and exactly how it will affect the rest of our environment.”

Ask Fong, Samji, or Hobeck to identify their favourite feature of New Relic, and they’ll all say the same thing: the single, unified view into system-wide performance that New Relic provides.

“Now, instead of having to refer to 10 different dashboards or tools to get key information, we can get a unified view of all the pertinent data on a single dashboard,” says Fong. “We simply took the customizable analytics dashboard that New Relic provided and put it up on a big screen, so that now anybody in the organization can view the information and give (or get) immediate insights about how we’re operating.”

Samji agrees: “Now, everyone is playing at the same level. We’re getting away from one team watching the app and another watching the infrastructure. Instead, we’re using New Relic Insights to join that data back together and provide a single view that everyone can monitor.”

Not surprisingly, this type of monitoring has also helped Fleet Complete accelerate its DevOps delivery cycles—moving from once-a-month releases to once-a-week releases since deploying New Relic. Says Samji, “New Relic helps us get to the root cause of problems very quickly and removes the guesswork from any fixes or resolutions that we have to put in place. This makes it easy to speed up our release cycle.”  

That same type of real-time monitoring also helps ensure that Fleet Complete’s connected vehicle platform is always up and running—a must for a mission-critical solution like the one the company provides. Says Fong, “We’ve improved by leaps and bounds in performance and availability, and New Relic has played a huge part in that. Instead of just looking at a bunch of issues, we’re now looking at real availability stats provided by New Relic.”

Best of all, the Fleet Complete team can rest easy knowing that New Relic has their back. Says Fong, “New Relic has been very hands-on with us, and the post-sales support team has been passionate about ensuring the success of our business from a technology perspective. We look forward to continuing the relationship long into the future.”

“We’ve improved by leaps and bounds in performance and availability, and New Relic has played a huge part in that. Instead of just looking at a bunch of issues, we’re now looking at real availability stats provided by New Relic.”

Alan Fong Chief Technology Officer, Fleet Complete