Want to go from Lisbon to Warsaw? How about Edinburgh to Oslo? Ryanair can get you there—and just about anywhere in between. With 600,000 flights per year, Ryanair is Europe’s number one airline for low prices and high punctuality.
After launching its first route in 1985 with a 15-seater aircraft, today Ryanair carries nearly 120 million passengers annually on more than 1,800 daily flights, connecting more than 200 destinations in 34 countries.
With prices like $6.23 (€5.76) for a one-way fare from London to Strasbourg, it’s no wonder that more than 1.3 million people visit the Ryanair website every day. For Declan Costello, infrastructure and operations manager at Ryanair, the website is one of his team’s top priorities. After all, if something isn’t working correctly on the Ryanair site, passengers can’t book flight segments, check in for flights, rent cars, or print boarding passes.
Inside view needed
Not too long ago, Costello and his team had little insight into performance and troubleshooting for the website. By looking at load times for webpages, the team of four responsible for the site could tell that something was wrong but not much else. ‘We knew the site had slowed down or stopped, but we didn’t have a clue where the problem was, nor did we have the data to figure it out’, he says.
The Ryanair website interfaces with the company’s own backend systems as well as third-party services such as those for car rentals, hotel booking, parking, and other travel offerings that Ryanair also sells. So when something happened anywhere in that ecosystem, Costello’s team had to try to deduce what was happening. ‘We’d go into a frenzy and start testing the site to try to figure out which page was slowing everything down or erroring out or timing out’, explains Costello.
Getting real-time data, every minute of every day
An architect on Costello’s team heard about the New Relic platform and decided to test it on the Ryanair mobile website. New Relic passed the test with flying colours and Ryanair quickly deployed it on the main website as well. It soon became the single source of performance data for not only Costello’s team, but across IT and the business.
‘We turned off the other monitors we were using because New Relic is our single, global source of truth for the website’, says Costello. ‘I use New Relic every minute of every day.’ One wall of the Ryanair office shows New Relic real-time dashboards on nine different screens, plus there are other screens across the office also displaying useful real-time data from New Relic Insights.
Besides operations, all of the developers at Ryanair also have access to New Relic. Costello explains that ‘every environment is fully instrumented in the same way as our production environment, all the way through development, integration, user acceptance testing, pre-production, staging, and production environments.’
Visualising the metric everyone wants to know
What is everyone watching when they look at the New Relic dashboards? The top metric across the company is the number of seats or segments sold. ‘Everyone watches that number, from the commercial yields team to the C suite’, says Costello. ‘They’re watching it day in and day out on their mobile phones and one executive has it on his wall.’
Before New Relic, getting that figure required taking data from an email that came from the backend booking engine every 30 minutes and then entering the figure into a spreadsheet. ‘Someone would build that spreadsheet hour by hour throughout the day’, says Costello. Now, the information is available at a glance in real time.