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HolidayCheck gets MTTR down to minutes

HolidayCheck was founded in Switzerland and today, it’s a wholly-owned subsidiary of Tomorrow Focus AG, a leader in digital content in Germany. HolidayCheck is available in 10 countries and languages. In addition to its websites, HolidayCheck also offers mobile applications on Apple iPhone and iPad as well as Android devices.

Keeping up with growing traffic volumes 

HolidayCheck experiences 25 million visits monthly to its site, where visitors can browse 11 million reviews and several million user photos and videos about more than 500,000 hotels. While those figures are impressive, they only represent the German-language portal; HolidayCheck operates websites in nine other languages as well. Double-digit yearly growth creates serious challenges for the operations team. As the number of lines of code it supports continues to expand, traffic during travel booking seasons continues to increase, and the changing expectations of customers drive the development and frequent rollout of new features and capabilities.

Previously, the HolidayCheck infrastructure was running on a managed hosting environment, giving the ops team little visibility into application behavior and health. “We only had a few Munin graphs and Nagios checks providing us with limited information,” says Maximilian Schöfmann, head of operations at HolidayCheck. “We had frequent performance issues, small outages, and customer complaints that were difficult and time-consuming to resolve because we didn’t have the right data.”

The HolidayCheck team knew it needed better visibility into performance and deeper analytics to help it resolve issues faster and prevent them from occurring in the first place. Specifically, HolidayCheck wanted to find a software analytics solution that would support multiple development languages, provide end-to-end visibility across its entire technology stack, give development and operations a common set of metrics to improve collaboration, and not burden of the ops team to maintain the solution.

New Relic gives us a visual early-warning system for performance issues. The result: it reduced our mean time to resolution from a half-day or more in the past to a matter of minutes now.

Preparing for peak season travel bookings

New Relic was the answer. Today, HolidayCheck relies on application performance monitoring (APM), infrastructure monitoring, and mobile monitoring to help the dev and ops teams resolve production issues quickly and proactively optimize their applications for a better customer experience. New Relic monitors HolidayCheck’s older, LAMP-based applications as well as new Scala and Node.js services running on Amazon Web Services.

The travel company finds New Relic to be particularly helpful when it comes to handling the seasonal traffic spikes that HolidayCheck experiences. “During the summer when people book last-minute trips and in January when the new travel catalogs come out, we experience three times the traffic we see in other months,” says Schöfmann. “New Relic helps us conduct load testing before the high season and plan our capacity needs accordingly, as well as address any other bottlenecks we find ahead of our peak usage times.”

HolidayCheck believes that one of the biggest advantages of New Relic is the single interface that lets operations, development, and quality assurance teams visualize performance and customer experience throughout the entire technology stack. “For instance, the New Relic plugins let us use the same interface for infrastructure components such as our F5 load balancers, memcached servers, and MySQL databases,” says Schöfmann.Robert Jacob, senior software developer at HolidayCheck, also appreciates the ability to track performance issues wherever they occur. “New Relic saves us time by enabling us to quickly drill down into the root cause of a performance issue, whether that’s in the native mobile application, the backend, or a third-party service,” says Jacob. 

Faster issue resolution and feature releases

For HolidayCheck, New Relic has been a key enabler in moving to a DevOps approach. “Before New Relic, there was figuratively a big wall between developers and operations,” says Schöfmann. “Today, all our teams can look at the same data. New Relic helped us bring together operations and development.”

With its DevOps approach and insight from New Relic, HolidayCheck can now fix problems faster than ever, often before customers even notice. “New Relic gives us a visual early-warning system for performance issues,” says Schöfmann. “The result: it reduced our mean time to resolution from a half-day or more in the past to a matter of minutes now.”

Both Schöfmann and Jacob agree that New Relic helps free up developers’ time for coding new features and proactively optimizing application performance. “New Relic helps us identify, plan, and verify optimizations,” says Schöfmann. Adds Jacob: “New Relic also gives us the confidence to release code often.” Making it easier and faster for customers to book travel is a big part of what helps the company continue to grow and prosper. New Relic plays an important role in achieving that goal today and as HolidayCheck moves to a next-generation microservices environment running on Docker and Apache Mesos. With New Relic’s Docker monitoring, HolidayCheck can take advantage of the additional flexibility and speed the new environment provides while still ensuring a great customer experience.