A division of Latin American media giant Grupo Globo, ZAP is a leading Brazilian classifieds website offering a fast and easy way to search, buy, and sell real estate. From photos and videos to maps and other helpful details, ZAP provides all the information potential homebuyers and sellers need to get exactly the property they’re looking for. In addition to a robust property searching capability, ZAP offers FipeZAP, a unique index of nationwide real estate prices, an online magazine, a prices map, and a number of other real estate services.

ZAP was founded in 2007. Headquartered in São Paulo, it currently has 25 offices throughout Brazil, with more than 400 employees. Approximately 80% of ZAP’s technology environment, including its core products mentioned above, is hosted in the Amazon Web Services cloud.

Gaining visibility into the production environment

Communication and collaboration among ZAP’s various technology teams are critical components of the organization’s success. “We follow a DevOps approach here at ZAP, with everyone focused on building a culture of agility,” says Sócrates Lopes, senior software architect. “In addition to keeping an open line of communication between our technology teams, we are heavily integrated with the business side as well.”

The ZAP website gets about 11 million monthly users, with about 8 million of those individuals being unique monthly users. Such high traffic volumes, while great for business, also create a high level of risk should something go wrong. “It’s very difficult to simulate this type of traffic in a controlled environment,” explains Lopes. “We wanted a better way to understand how our applications, which are developed in a smaller environment, behaved once they went live in production.” The ZAP team’s goal: find a tool that gave every single team member a clear view of how end users were experiencing their applications to ultimately improve agility and ensure a positive customer experience.

End-to-end monitoring across Web and mobile

Initially drawn to New Relic for its server monitoring solution, ZAP quickly realized that the New Relic platform offered not only the application performance metrics it needed, but also the customer experience metrics it wanted as well. “Our infrastructure team was the first group to start using New Relic,” says Tercio Silva, solution architect at ZAP. “We started with New Relic APM, and within the first hour of deploying, we were already identifying mistakes and areas for improvement.”

Today, various teams use New Relic on a daily basis, including Denis Lara, infrastructure and database manager at ZAP. “The first thing I do when I arrive in the morning is look at New Relic to understand how our performance is looking and to see if an application version upgrade, for example, may have impacted our production environment,” he says. Reviewing performance early in the day also gives the team opportunities to identify strange behavior, such as bots crawling their data. In these cases, reviewing historical data is just as important as seeing real-time metrics, as it allows the team to spot trends and odd performance patterns.

In addition to the infrastructure and database teams, ZAP’s mobile team also relies heavily on New Relic Mobile to monitor the performance of the company’s ZAP Pro and ZAP Rent mobile apps. The team finds the crash reporting feature to be particularly useful in speeding up problem resolution, as “the reports are created in a really simple way that makes it easy to identify the root cause of a problem,” says Lopes.

ZAP also uses New Relic to correlate the company’s software performance with specific marketing campaigns. For example, ZAP may run an advertisement that takes place during a TV show. In those cases, it inevitably sees a spike in traffic coming to the site. “We monitor that traffic using New Relic to make sure the environment is under control and working smoothly with all its interconnections,” says Lara. “It’s crucial for us to understand how our application behaves under high audience impact.”

“We’ve always had a culture focused on high performance, but with the adoption of New Relic, it’s turned into a more concentrated effort by allowing us to get insight and analysis much faster.”

Sócrates Lopes Senior Software Architect, ZAP

Fostering alignment across the organization

Now a group of self-proclaimed “data nerds", the ZAP team uses software analytics as a standard for communication among its various teams. “We’ve always had a culture focused on high performance, but with the adoption of New Relic, it’s turned into a more concentrated effort by allowing us to get insight and analysis much faster,” says Lopes. Analyzing why a particular incident happened used to take hours, but with New Relic, those hours are reduced to mere minutes.

At a strategic level, monitoring application performance brings ZAP important indicators to evaluate whether or not the team is using computing resources in the most effective way possible. “This allows us to make adjustments and optimizations in our cloud that ultimately help us reduce infrastructure costs,” says Lara. “It also brings greater alignment between the technology and marketing teams, as it allows us to show the impact of marketing campaigns and advertisements.”

Customer experience lies at the heart of everything ZAP’s technology team delivers. Using New Relic, everyone can keep their eye on the prize and talk about results using the same data. “Since our overriding concern is with the user experience, software analytics is fundamental in allowing us to diagnose problems and continually optimize our infrastructure,” says Silva. “We have details of mistakes and errors, which gives us a certain peace of mind knowing exactly what it is we need to do to fix those issues.”

According to Lara and Lopes, software analytics will continue to play an important role at ZAP. “Selling and buying a property are big steps in a person’s life,” says Lopes. “Sometimes it’s the biggest negotiation that person has in his or her entire life. We take it very seriously. When these people use our services, we want to make sure they have the best experience possible. And for us to ensure that, software analytics will continue to be a great ally.”