Making the customer experience as easy as possible is essential for Bax Music, the online shop used across Western Europe by top musicians, producers, and DJs to find and buy all kinds of instruments and gear. Every year, the business ships more than 1 million packages and offers fast delivery and other guarantees. The web shops are optimised for a demanding customer base who want extensive product information, high-resolution photos, 360-degree views, and advice from product specialists as if they were visiting a physical store. 

Naturally, technology is critical to how Bax Music creates the best possible customer experience. As Daniel Kraaij, DevOps Engineer at Bax Music, explains: ‘Our development team is focused on constantly improving our services so we can make our customers’ shopping experience and lives even easier. We want to simply create new features that work superbly well and that our customers can benefit from. Key to realising this is how we utilise the latest technologies in application development and modern infrastructure.’

One of the principles for creating an online music paradise is how New Relic helps Bax Music develop and deploy new functions successfully and respond rapidly to any application and infrastructure issues.

Hitting a top note on visibility

To ensure its technology supports the business in reacting to customer demand, Bax Music is evolving its software and infrastructure. 

The online business had been built on a LAMP web services software stack, but Bax Music is migrating towards using microservices that break down the older monolithic application into smaller pieces to make it more manageable. To provide high availability and performance, Kubernetes server clusters with around 45 nodes are used to reduce downtime and avoid outages.

In running the business across multiple shops in multiple countries and languages, it became clear that more flexible and powerful application monitoring was crucial, and the team settled on New Relic for this. The immediate value of New Relic was how it gave the team insight into how their applications were working. 

‘New Relic is an eye-opener,’ Kraaij says. ‘There was immediate observability of how often specific functions were being called, which we hadn’t been able to see easily before. On several occasions, New Relic revealed traces that were going through code that was six or seven years old.’

‘New Relic is an eye-opener. There was immediate observability of how often specific functions were being called, which we hadn’t been able to see easily before.’

Daniel Kraaij DevOps Engineer at Bax Music

Picking up the baton on Kubernetes

Having started with applications, Kraaij and his team then moved onto using New Relic to help run their container infrastructure. 

‘Compared to our previous tool,’ Kraaij says, ‘New Relic Infrastructure gives us much better insights because it correlates specific events between the server and what's going on inside the application. This is incredibly helpful for us.

‘A good example of this was a problem we had with how a script was fetching images from a storage server. It was slowing down somehow and we couldn't really figure out why. New Relic allowed us to easily correlate what was going on between the application and the servers. This led us to quickly find and fix a rogue process running on a machine that actually should have been deployed on a different machine.’

New Relic is integral to how Bax Music is building out its Kubernetes environment. 

‘Our challenge is less about keeping everything up and running, but more about how we implement new projects and migrate old workloads from older to newer clusters,’ Kraaij explains. ‘The Kubernetes Cluster Explorer gives us a complete overview of what’s happening across all our clusters and nodes as we grow. It is a key part of the infrastructure monitoring and alerting.’

Sweet harmony among teams

By providing a single source of truth about how the applications and infrastructure are performing, New Relic is enabling the developer and operational teams to collaborate more successfully. 

‘New Relic helps teams at Bax Music work closer together,’ says Kraaij. ‘We run a database cluster that holds every piece of data and powers all the other platforms. If anyone is doing some heavy work on that database which might impact application performance, the developer and operations teams can quickly get real-time visibility into the applications and infrastructure thanks to New Relic. This means that we can sort out any issues together very easily because there’s such a clear shared helicopter view of everything.’

This collective visibility is important when developers deploy new features and updates across multiple systems. When these go live, this is where the capability of New Relic to simplify and speed up correlation of data is so important. 

‘Correlating data has been a real pain for us in the past,’ Kraaij explains ‘We’ve got multiple linked systems involved in our customers’ journeys. An order moves within and between multiple web shop applications into a warehouse management system and onto the warehouse itself. If our staff or customers are experiencing problems, traditionally we would have had to dig through all sorts of log files to see if we could uncover the issue. But, with New Relic it’s all made much clearer for us and we can delve into the problem immediately.’

‘Correlating data has been a real pain for us in the past. If our staff or customers are experiencing problems, traditionally we would have had to dig through all sorts of log files to see if we could uncover the issue. But, with New Relic it’s all made much clearer for us and we can delve into the problem immediately.’

Daniel Kraaij DevOps Engineer at Bax Music

How the team can correlate what’s happening at the application and infrastructure levels is delivering real results for the business. 

‘We’re solving issues much faster now,’ Kraaij says. ‘I know for a fact that when we didn't have New Relic in place it could take sometimes days, whereas now with New Relic, we can find stuff in hours. If, like us, you have data in separate systems, then you spend way much more time investigating specific issues. So, when New Relic cross-correlates all that data, you resolve issues in a much shorter time.’

Serving a dynamic, creative community and industry, Bax Music needs to be extremely responsive to its customers, which is why New Relic’s visibility is so important to Kraaij and the team. 

‘Summing up what New Relic means for me, is how when I click on my monitor in the morning, I get all the visibility I need,’ says Kraaij. ‘Instead of laboriously going back and forth between tools to tie together what’s happening, New Relic does all of that correlation in one place for me and ensures I don’t miss anything.’

‘Instead of laboriously going back and forth between tools to tie together what’s happening, New Relic does all of that correlation in one place for me and ensures I don’t miss anything.’

Daniel Kraaij DevOps Engineer at Bax Music

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