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Guest post: How Seenit uses Google Cloud Platform and Couchbase to power our video collaboration platform

July 28, 2017
Dave Starling

CTO, Seenit

Editor’s Note: In this guest post, Seenit CTO Dave Starling walks us through how they use Google Cloud Platform (GCP) and Couchbase to build their innovative crowdsourced video platform.

Since we started Seenit in 2014, our goal has been to give businesses the tools to tell interesting stories through crowdsourced video. But getting there wasn’t simple. What we envisioned for Seenit didn’t exist at the time we started, challenging us to define our product architecture from ground zero. We learned a lot, which is why today I thought I’d share a little on how we’re using Couchbase and GCP to bring Seenit to life.

When we first began looking at what we wanted to build as a platform, we came up with a list of requirements for our database and cloud provider. We chose to run Couchbase on GCP because it offered us distributed architecture that’s highly scalable and available globally. Our clients are typically large enterprises, sometimes in dozens of countries all over the world. We wanted to make sure that everyone, no matter where they are, could get a consistently good user experience.

By applying Couchbase’s N1QL and Full Text Search (FTS) with Google Cloud Machine Learning APIs, our customers can easily filter submissions by objects, words or phrases. And because everything is on GCP, we can duplicate our entire platform within minutes on 12 VMs.

Here’s how it works:


  1. We use Google Compute Engine to autoscale between two and 20 servers.
  2. Google Cloud Storage allows for unified object storage and retrieval. Near-infinite scalability means the service is capable of handling everything from small applications to builds of exabyte-scale systems.
  3. Couchbase’s Full Text Search (FTS) enables us to examine all the words in every document and match them with designated criteria.
  4. Cloud Machine Learning APIs sort clips by objects, gender of speakers and sentiment. The APIs all speak the same language so communication is seamless.
Last year, when we began looking for a machine learning platform, we wanted something that would talk JSON, store JSON and search JSON. We knew a machine learning platform that did all of that would integrate nicely into our Couchbase system. TensorFlow fit our criteria. We love that it isn’t restricted. We can build our own domain-specific models and use Google tools to train them.

Although TensorFlow is an open source machine learning platform, we use it through Cloud Machine Learning Engine. It’s a fully managed service, which is great for us because that way we don’t need to build and manage our own hardware. This allows us to do a lot of manipulation and extract a lot of really interesting data. It’s fully integrated in Couchbase, especially in full text search but also into N1QL, so we can search and extract intelligence and provide value to our customers. It’s a serverless architecture with the advantage of the custom hardware that Google started doing.

It’s also been great that we feel engaged with the community and product and engineering teams. As a startup, it’s important to feel like you can stand on the shoulders of giants, so to speak. The support we get from organizations like Google and Couchbase allow us to do lots of things that we otherwise wouldn’t be able to do with the resources we had.

There’s plenty more to share, but I’ll stop here. If you want to learn more, you might want to check out the joint talk GCP Product Manager Anil Dhawan and I recently gave at Couchbase Connect.

I also recommend checking out Couchbase and other tools on Cloud Launcher. You can use free trial credits to play around and even deploy something of your own. Good luck!

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