What was your process for selecting 3wks to work with?
We were looking for a partner with a start-up mentality. Traditional technology houses couldn't cope with the degree of unknowns we started with. Agencies couldn't help us with the heavy-lifting technologies. Neither could move at the speed we required with all these unknowns. 3wks immediately stood out as specialists in a new field: the art of committing to delivering to real users at lightning speed before you know what it is!
Why did you decide to build your application on Google App Engine instead of similar platforms?
We chose Platform as a Service (PaaS) over the traditional Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) because we estimated a 40% lower project cost. This was based on previous experience with both platforms. With IaaS, we need system administrators, database administrators, network specialists, application server specialists, and network security people. With PaaS, we avoid these costs (and more importantly the time delay and dependencies) because world-class resources at companies like Google have already solved all of those problems. We effectively get them for free.
This also reduces our operating costs dramatically because PaaS is elastic, which means that we don't have to have 40 servers just because we need them on one day of the week. We pay for what we use, which has turned out to be a massive cost reduction for us. We chose Google Cloud Platform over Amazon's Web Services because Google's PaaS offering was more mature and pre-integrated for building web and mobile apps. They have a host of convenient, built-in services. For example, Geo search, big data services, and the Google Prediction API. We didn't waste time choosing and integrating these services from third parties. With the Google Cloud Platform, we started building real features for our customers on day one and had them in users' hands within three weeks of the project starting.
Can you tell me about the scope of the project?
We built five separate web applications in the classifieds genre. Each one had a different customer base, branding, and architecture. Some of these were deliberate throw-away market tests (micro-investments) in local geographies before we built for the national market, like Traderoo. Our project team was fully self-sufficient with a blend of marketing, technical, and business support skills.
What parts of the project was 3wks involved in?
3wks provided a fully managed service in the early stages of the project. From branding, design, and technical build through to technical support, quality management, and customer support in the early stages. We were able to focus on the business strategy and executing our marketing plan. This allowed us time to establish a team of world-class resources over a more controlled period. We now fully support and extend the platform with internal resources, with peak cover from 3wks.
What areas were you able to develop in-house?
Due to the time pressures on these projects, we held to a specific strategy of avoiding changes to internal systems wherever possible. The only changes we made internally were for system integration, which was surprisingly pain-free. We were able to leverage investment in internal technologies made in the previous year.
What technologies were used?
We choose to use Google App Engine (Java)
- Built-in task queues
- Built-in distributed cache
- Built-in page speed cache
- Built-in A/B testing facility
- Built-in "backends" and CRON jobs
- Built-in Geo IP headers
- Built-in distributed logging log query feature
- Built-in warm-up requests
- Data Store
- Geo Search on Data Store
- Search API for full text search
- Big Query
- Blob Store
- Cloud Storage
- Maps API
- Prediction API
- Google Apps
- Domain hosting
- Mail hosting
Can you give us a sense of the size of the initiative in dollar terms or person months?
Sorry can’t discuss that.
How recent was the project finished?
This is effectively a startup business within our existing enterprise. It continues to evolve at a rapid rate and we continue to make significant investments.