Basecone correlates data to pinpoint issues
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Basecone is an innovative accounting SaaS provider and part of Wolters Kluwer Tax and Accounting. The Netherlands-based company provides smart processing of paper, digital and electronic documents and matching, approval, and booking of invoices and other financial documents. Today, the digital service is used by more than 100,000 companies connected to 1,800-plus accounting firms in the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, and the United Kingdom.
An ambitious business strategy is driving the new technology choices being made by Basecone CTO Lorenzo Moretti. His company is seeing rapid growth in its current markets and plans to expand into new countries. Keeping pace with such demand depends on how the cloud infrastructure and applications are managed and evolved successfully.
"Our first step, a long time ago, was lifting and shifting our on-premise platform into the AWS (Amazon Web Services) public cloud," Moretti explains. "This gave us far more agility and speed when bringing on new infrastructure. But in terms of real cost-savings and scalability and availability, there's almost no change. You still need to patch your machines, ensure security and build and scale your own machines. That’s why we looked to move to serverless computing to radically change our costs, not just in terms of the AWS bill, but also operational costs."
"Going serverless will give us the robust and highly available implementation of our service that can scale out automatically. This is key, because in growing the number of customers, we can’t as a business significantly increase the number of operations engineers we have."
Correlating data to find root cause
Basecone is using New Relic to help map and navigate its journey towards greater use of serverless computing. It helps that the platform is already key to how Basecone monitors its application performance.
Carlos Teixeira, chapter lead operations at Basecone, explains "We chose New Relic for those small-but-important things, like how it correlated information between our application and infrastructure and then could easily find the root cause of a problem. The very active community of New Relic users was also really important to us in helping us get started."
On a day-to-day basis, New Relic supports the operations team as they observe the performance of the digital service and applications in production. "New Relic is our main source of truth for how our application is performing in the AWS public cloud," Teixeira adds. "It is allowing us to see everything that’s happening. We can root cause analyze any possible issue that might be occurring, or even act preemptively by observing trends. If we can fix something before it happens, that's a lot of time won."
Troubleshooting simplified: Happy customers
Teixeira’s team is focused on assuring the best possible digital experience and high availability of services for customers, whose businesses rely on the efficient processing of essential financial documentation. Any outage that prevents them from processing an invoice could have a serious financial penalty for a customer.
"One of our most important alarms is the unavailability of our infrastructure," explains Teixeira. "We have New Relic configured so that if any of our machines ever lose connections, every single member of the team is automatically alerted. We have architected the infrastructure to be highly resilient and available. When issues have occurred, New Relic has let us act immediately and spin up the machines again. Customers might have felt a small hiccup in terms of performance, but they never lost service."
The end-to-end visibility is also shared with the customer services team, so team members see issues and respond in real time to any problems that customers are experiencing with their online service. "If we have an issue, we can immediately see and fix it, and keep our customers always informed about what we are doing. New Relic helps us to communicate with our customers confidently," says Teixeira, "because the customer service team has the same visibility that the operations team has and it’s in real time, unlike in the past."
The value of New Relic for operations is this capability to ingest and correlate so much data and enable the team to react quickly to any issues or areas of concern. As Teixeira explains: "Troubleshooting is so much more automated for us now. We can use distributed tracing to investigate or create a dashboard [that includes] all the information we need to easily follow the line of the error to its resolution. By clicking on a few buttons, I can have the entire data that I need automatically delivered to me. Understanding what’s happening inside our applications is also so important when I bring on a new team member," he adds. "Time is a very precious thing in our work, so how New Relic lets me explain to them in five minutes or so how to do something is a very big win for us."
From start up to scale up with serverless
New Relic is pivotal to how Basecone is juggling the management of its current operations with the business expansion and technology evolution. As they migrate to serverless computing, the ability of the team to use New Relic has become increasingly important.
"As we need our future infrastructure to align with our customer growth and deliver a great digital customer experience," Moretti explains, "New Relic will be a big part in predicting how we grow our infrastructure in terms of comparing our current performance and where we are going. We know New Relic is a platform that can support us in the years to come. It is vital for us to scale up our systems to serve new customers in new markets without service interruptions and with a seamless migration to serverless. These are all things that you can do only if you have a solution like New Relic to support you."
A single source of truth
The insights that New Relic gives are also creating an appetite for performance data across the business. Across the Basecone office, there are banks of monitors broadcasting to the rest of the business the latest status of how the service is performing for customers. This, and how the observability data from New Relic is being proliferated, is helping to increase the speed of communication among the many different teams and leaders within the business.
As the CTO, the ability to share insights extends to interacting with the rest of the C-suite for Moretti. "New Relic dashboards are actively used by my colleagues. The CMO uses it to understand customer trends and churn, and our CFO draws on data generated by New Relic to help evaluate business growth and budgets." As the business grows, Basecone is leaning more and more on New Relic to be the observability platform to support the strategic imperative of maximizing truly cloud-native, serverless computing to drive revenues, superb digital service excellence and seamless expansion into new markets.