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Mercari: Faster and more efficient development with the help of Google Cloud

October 22, 2020
The Google Cloud content marketing team

A key part of launching and running services on a cloud platform is the support of experts that fully understand a customer’s unique challenges. At Google Cloud, we do this through Premium Support and Technical Account Management (TAM), which pairs Google engineers with customers to design effective cloud strategies and provide long-term support during implementation. 

In October 2018, Japanese ecommerce company Mercari Group began building and operationalizing the infrastructure for its Mercari marketplace app and Merpay smartphone payment service. Although they’d adopted a microservice architecture for system infrastructure using Google Kubernetes Engine (GKE) in 2016, by 2018 they realized they’d need to run multiple services, like Merpay, on the same infrastructure. As a result, they turned to Google Cloud’s TAM.

Working with TAM to launch Merpay

“Around the time of the Merpay release we were holding weekly meetings with people from Google, and they worked closely with us and provided support for things such as capacity planning and security,” says Junichiro Takagi of Mercari’s SRE Team. “We also had meetings set up for us about Google Cloud products with the product managers, and it was great to be able to directly convey our requests.”

“Since the cause of many problems simply can’t be understood from the outside, having TAM and working with Google Cloud technical experts to identify the cause is very helpful,” says Shingo Ishimura of the Solutions Team. “For feature requests as well, working with TAM has made a big difference. We appreciate the information sharing ability that TAM has, which incorporates a product-like approach and provides information such as whether or not there have been any similar requests from other companies, whether there are any workarounds, and how the product manager reacted to the issue.”

TAM has helped Mercari in ways the team didn’t even expect. “We once put a request on GitHub about the default delay time for the Cloud Spanner client library being too long,” says Ishimura, “and after we did that, TAM actually set up an opportunity for us to speak directly with the relevant staff members at Google Cloud about it.” The result of this interaction was a reduction of the original two-second delay time down to 20 milliseconds, and the TAM team also caught requests the Mercari team elevated to support cases.

After the launch of Merpay in 2019, TAM also implemented capacity planning that took into account the significant increase in traffic that results from large-scale campaigns, TV commercials, and similar events. By sharing Merpay’s architecture with the support team in advance, it also put in place a structure to swiftly deal with any problems that occur, and as a result, the service has not experienced any significant failures since it was launched.

Getting a helping hand with troubleshooting from Google Cloud Premium Support

To guarantee a stable service environment, Mercari has also taken advantage of Google Cloud’s Premium Support in addition to TAM. This means they can rely on a swift response to a failure, should one occur.

“Our system has a range of layers comprising multiple applications, GKE and networks, and Cloud Spanner, so in some cases it’s difficult to identify the cause of a problem,” says Takagi. “In such cases we isolate the problem with Google Cloud support engineers, but in cases with low reproducibility this can sometimes drag on for a long time. With Google Cloud, support engineers from Google in Japan form the main point of contact when this happens, and we’re able to jump on a meeting with them, which is very helpful. TAM also coordinates any misunderstandings in the communication, which is very reassuring.”

How using TAM has benefitted Mercari globally

TAM is also contributing greatly to the creation of microservice architecture that Mercari is undertaking at a global level.

“Something that TAM did for us that was amazing was facilitate an exchange of information between us and a certain global company that had used Google Cloud to achieve a microservice architecture. We were really grateful for the opportunity to meet directly with engineers from this company and get very practical information from them,” says Taichi Nakashima of Mercari’s Microservices Platform Team. “We were also given the opportunity to talk to the engineers who actually develop GKE. It was really nice to have Tim Hockin, one of the engineers leading the development of Kubernetes, attend a meeting with us and give his advice.”

Similar meetings were set up proactively not only in Japan but overseas as well, says Mercari US Director of Engineering Naoki Shimizu. “For example, TAM provided support by connecting us with the Enterprise Team for reCAPTCHA, which is used for authentication, and thanks to this, we were able to learn about reCAPTCHA’s latest products and the best practice for them. Furthermore, when we subsequently found a technical problem with the reCAPTCHA Enterprise SDK, TAM escalated it to them and we were able to obtain an updated SDK within a week.”

Shimizu says the global presence of TAM, with its holistic perspective of Mercari’s business and solutions in both Japan and the US, will deliver new value to the business by facilitating the sharing of solutions and practical information between the two countries.

Nakashima and the Microservice Platform Team are now working on a project to migrate the monolithic system that is still on premises entirely over to Google Cloud. “And in these circumstances,” says Nakashima, “I think there will be quite a few problems that we won’t be able to deal with by ourselves, which is why we’re so grateful for the support from TAM.”

Mercari was founded with the mission to make it easy to sell, or buy, almost anything. With Google Cloud, Mercari is also simplifying how it builds the technical foundation for its business.

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