In North America, real estate sells quickly, especially in the top markets. For those markets, real estate agents don’t have time to work on infrastructure for their websites and customer relationship management (CRM) software. That’s not their core competency. Real estate agencies in North America need out-of-the-box technology solutions that help them get properties listed online, sold, and out of escrow as soon as possible.
“Our customers, especially the top ten real estate companies in North America, ideally want to be interacting with their clients and selling properties,” says Aayaam Kapoor, Vice President of Product and Experience at Real Estate Webmasters (REW), a leading real estate branding and web development service provider. Some of the challenges that we face are regarding displaying listings almost instantly as they hit the MLS. There is a constant endeavor to improve the underlying ingestion, processing, and display of huge listings datasets on the front end websites. Also, other challenges include ensuring that speed to load is instant despite handling hundreds of thousands of listings and millions of images.”
The REW CRM system is powerful and easy for agents to use. “The REW CRM stands out at automation for critical tasks that matter,” says Kapoor, “including for automated saved search generation based on a client’s search history and triggered (nested) action plan items, which help assist in your workflow. Then you can automate emails after certain logged events and also automate texts if you have the texting module.”
As an enabler, REW delivers a turnkey SaaS offering that’s described as a world-class web UX. “Agents and brokerages can launch an out-of-the-box solution that offers the best real estate website experience in the market,” says Kapoor. “We take pride in our website designs that have won numerous awards for their look but also because they can consume a large dataset and render it on the front end in a highly performant way.”
REW has been so successful with their website offering to real estate agencies that they had scaling challenges while serving an expanding client base with their existing private cloud provider. “The challenge was that as a customer’s website footprint scales vertically, we’re working to scale virtual machines (VMs) horizontally,” says David Jensen, DevOps Developer at REW. “As customer website traffic climbs, they need us to automatically increase resources to meet that demand without downtime.”
In addition to a long-term plan to rearchitect their website solution, REW also faced immediate challenges on their private cloud platform. Storage capacity and RAM were not easy to manage, which affected uptime. “With the private cloud, it was extremely hard if not impossible to resize the hard drive or the partitioned disk space,” says Jensen.
Also, REW found their private cloud platform wasn’t cost effective. They wanted to reduce costs while increasing scalability and flexibility.
To increase horizontal scalability, REW proceeded to do a lift-and-shift migration from the private cloud provider to Google Cloud. There, they set up customer VMs on Compute, leveraging LAMP stacks (i.e., Linux, Apache, MySQL, PHP) as very reliable web hosts for the real estate companies. “As REW onboards new customers, we are able to spin up more LAMP-stack VMs to achieve horizontal scalability,” says Richard De Groot, Customer Care Team Lead at REW. “With the simple lift-and-shift migration, REW has solved our immediate issues, but not future challenges.”
After migrating to Google Cloud, REW wanted a Google Cloud expert to help them plan the rearchitecting of their out-of-the-box website SaaS solution. They needed someone who was more than just a vendor; they needed an extension of their team.
“We were looking at two other companies, but they just weren’t a good fit for us,” says Jensen. “Then we engaged SADA.“
SADA’s done a phenomenal job of not only feeling like a company that we can work with but also they really try to understand our problems. They’ve become our facilitator for solving our legacy issues.David Jensen | DevOps Developer at Real Estate Webmasters
As a first step, REW tapped SADA, a three-time Google Cloud Reseller Partner of the Year, to help make their SaaS solution more resilient. To help maintain or increase the uptime of their solution, REW needed SADA’s recommendations for making it more highly available (HA). “SADA has expertise in the area of HA, and they’ve helped us make our product more resilient,” says Jensen. “Our goal is to improve the performance of our product, even beyond our customer SLAs.”
Additionally, after consulting with their SADA Technical Account Manager (TAM), REW was able to analyze their Google Cloud product usage and identify changes that better fit their needs. Also, using Committed Use Discounts (CUDs) available in their commitment allowed them to optimize their overall Google Cloud spend. “Our TAM identified relatively high-cost products and raised our awareness of some use cases of why we shouldn’t use those versus others,” says Jensen. “CUDs provide an appreciable monthly savings. Following SADA’s advice, we will be able to save even more in the future.”
As a result of working with SADA and Google Cloud, REW has been able to achieve present-day objectives and lay the foundation for longer-term goals.
Immediately after their lift-and-shift migration from the private cloud to Google Cloud, REW was able to spin up more storage and RAM as needed from the Google Cloud Console. “After we moved to Google Cloud, all that’s needed to get more disk capacity or memory is make an API call and a single command,” says Jensen. “It’s easy to add more resources to our VMs on Google Cloud Compute. You can do it on-the-fly as you add more VMs.”
Resilience, as measured by uptime percentage (e.g., 99%, 99.5% 99.9%), has also increased for REW after consulting with SADA on their Google Cloud configurations.
“Our publicized SLA is two nines, but in reality we can achieve two-and-a-half nines,” says Jensen. “With help from SADA, we’re building out our monitoring to better support customer SLAs and then we can advertise we provide two-and-half nines. We’re striving for three nines.”David Jensen | DevOps Developer at Real Estate Webmasters
With two-and-half nines high availability, REW’s more resilient infrastructure now supports on average one billion web hits per month and one hundred and fifty terabytes of data on VMs. That’s only the start, however. REW is looking to leverage SADA’s industry contacts to help them find application performance management (APM) and monitoring solutions in addition to what’s on Google Cloud Marketplace. With their unique requirements, REW has found it useful to explain their needs face to face to potential vendors. Overall, Google Cloud offers REW a flexible platform roadmap.
“Our plan is to move toward a new modern software architecture in two years on Google Cloud. By then, we’ll have been able to educate our teams to become microservices savvy so we can leverage more Google Cloud components, with the help of SADA,” says Kapoor. “SADA has added a lot of value with their ability to advise us on how to make the most of Google Cloud resources. It’s been extremely helpful, especially in terms of cost optimization, saving Real Estate Webmasters 25% or more on consumption per month by going Google Cloud through SADA, on top of other cost savings.”