Since we opened our doors, VendAsta has built its solutions on Google App Engine. What it’s given us over the years has been the ability to focus on the end user solutions without having to worry about the serving hardware infrastructure. It’s allowed us to provide a redundant, reliable and infinitely scaleable solutions that our biggest clients can count on. The following write-up appeared on the Google Cloud Platform Blog, and was drafted by Jason Collins, VendAsta’s chief technical officer.
When we founded VendAsta in 2008, we had great ideas about helping millions of small local businesses manage their brands and local reputation. At the same time, we knew that we didn’t want to go through the headache of building our own data center – some of us had done that before at a real estate startup and it was painful. With fortunate timing, Google App Engine launched at the same time we founded VendAsta, and it was an easy decision to use Google’s infrastructure for building and testing applications. As Google added even more features to App Engine and made it a better product, we knew we’d made the right decision.
In fact, our very first lines of code were written on App Engine. We liked not worrying about server redundancy, data replication, peering relationships, power backup, cooling systems, application scaling, or data backups. We could simply focus on the business logic of our applications and what we wanted to deliver to our end users. Focusing on the product got us where we are today – our platform monitors the web for any mention on over 200,000 local businesses, analyzes the social content, and helps them figure out what they need to respond to and take action on. Once a business understands its online reputation, it can take steps to improve it, attracting more customers and increasing revenue.
Large architectural strides can be made when you commit to a platform and align with the platform’s vision. VendAsta has made that decision, and we’re realizing the benefits of using the full Google Cloud Platform feature set. Today, we have about 75 applications running on App Engine and Google Cloud Datastore, including Social Marketing, a tool that helps businesses share content across social channels, and Reputation Management, which shows businesses what customers are saying about them online.
We’re leveraging several other parts of Cloud Platform as well: we use Google BigQuery for structured analysis to perform multi-location analyses for large brands. With BigQuery, we can build data analytics “hypercubes,” using data from thousands of local businesses – like a chain of thousands of car dealerships that wants to compare the reputations of East Coast locations against those on the West Coast. We use BigQuery to analyze the data, then we use Google Cloud SQL to generate the reports that clients need. Our large number of applications are able to communicate reliably with one another using Google Cloud Pub/Sub as an asynchronous messaging system.
Running our business on the cloud gives us the scalability we need to remain competitive. We have the freedom to seek out more partners who will buy our platform and bring it to their customers, without being concerned about our ability to handle customer requests to onboard thousands or tens of thousands of accounts. And all that time saved by not worrying about our infrastructure has helped us bring more and better product features to the small and medium businesses that rely on VendAsta.