eCabs creates a ride-hailing platform for new and legacy cab companies
Partner Development Manager, Google Cloud
Field Sales Representative, Google Cloud
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Ride hailing and cab services have been forever transformed by smartphone apps that digitally match drivers and riders for trips. While some of the biggest names in the ride-hailing industry are digital natives, cab services that have been around for decades are working to modernize and succeed in this competitive and tech-driven industry.
eCabs, a Malta-based digital ride hailing company, started off as a dial-a-cab provider in 2010, working to disrupt the industry with a high-quality, professional, and reliable 24/7 service.
As mobile apps began to be introduced into the industry globally, the company’s leaders began digitally transforming the company to create a tech stack of its own.
“We were keeping our eyes on the development of the international ride-hailing industry from inception,” says Matthew Bezzina, Chief Executive Officer at eCabs. “It was evident that embracing and investing in technology would be critical to our growth and success. We also knew that a powerful combination would come from coupling our hands-on experience of running a mobility operation with a forward-looking technology mindset.”
eCabs built its own tech, creating a platform that could be tailored for other operators and tweaked to accommodate any jurisdiction’s particular needs. The company worked with Google Cloud and partner TIM Enterprise to achieve its vision.
Building a scalable and reliable platform
eCabs initially started with an IT environment built on bare metal architecture but quickly recognized the limitations of this approach.
“Having redundancies on bare metal did not match our ambitions, and we knew that a robust international technology service required a borderless solution that did not rely on the limited connectivity of a European island nation like Malta,” says Luca Di Michele, Chief Technology Officer at eCabs. “The requirement to migrate to the cloud with all the invaluable benefits that came with it was very clear.”
eCabs’ platform was first rolled out in its home country of Malta, which has the EU’s densest road network. This made it an ideal sandbox to test and refine its products. The company’s ambitions, however, always stretched beyond its home’s shores. Redundancies were vital to maximize uptime and reliability, while scalability was necessary to manage the massive spikes in demand common in the ride hailing market.
“Migrating to Google Cloud was a natural progression for us because it offers greater flexibility, scalability, and reliability,” says Bezzina.
“This has enabled us to grow locally and meet the demands of our growing international business. It’s also improved our platform’s uptime and makes it easier to manage spikes in demand as the platform met its planned growth across different markets.”
eCabs uses Google Kubernetes Engine (GKE) to power its microservices architecture that includes unique environments for each of the other international tenants it serves.
GKE makes it easy to replicate environments, which has allowed eCabs to quickly get new customers up and running as its platform becomes more popular across Europe.
“When we have a new potential customer, we can easily build a test environment, deploy it, run the setups in accordance with the prospect’s preferences, and show them the value of the platform,” says Di Michele. “The ability to replicate environments at speed while providing redundancy and disaster recovery capabilities enables our growth and grants our tenants peace of mind.”
Preparing systems to scale through a strategic partnership
Google Cloud partner TIM Enterprise has helped eCabs since the outset of its migration, assisting with provisioning, setup, maintenance, and more.
This helped eCabs get through the more challenging elements of the switch from bare metal to GKE architecture, while opening the door to other data cloud solutions such as BigQuery.
With TIM Enterprise’s guidance, eCabs has effectively begun to use BigQuery for all its data needs across regions, allowing it to offer customers insights on platform use for planning and performance review purposes. Given the importance of data analytics in ride hailing businesses, this checked a critical box for eCabs while setting the stage for the introduction of machine learning and generative AI projects.
Now, TIM Enterprise and Google Cloud continue to share new opportunities and insights into eCabs’ use of cloud computing to unlock savings, improve scalability, and reduce the burden of infrastructure management.
More importantly, TIM Enterprise and Google Cloud have enabled eCabs to protect its platform against moments that would have previously presented significant challenges.
“The ease in which we can scale is crucial, because we have customers of all sizes across regions,” says Di Michele.
“If we can’t scale quickly, our customers could see downtime when their riders rely most on their services like during a major sporting event. Google Cloud and TIM Enterprise have helped to position us as an always-on option, which positively impacts our customers and our customers’ customers.”
Enabling digital transformation across the ride-hailing industry
Given that eCabs is a group that houses a tech company, a 24/7 ride-hailing business, and full fleet, it has real-world experience in the issues legacy operators face and the pains of transitioning to a digital-first operation.
eCabs is enabling digital transformation among legacy cab companies and new entrants into the digital ride-hailing market in Europe and the wider region to compete against the biggest names in digital ride sharing with Google Cloud tools supporting its vision.
“Google Cloud has always been there to help,” says Bezzina. “Google Cloud and TIM Enterprise offer excellent support irrespective of the size of your business. This is a testament to the power of Google Cloud. We know they believe in us and take action to drive our success forward.
Looking ahead, eCabs is continuing its strategy of international expansion as data plays an ever-greater role in the market.
“Eventually, ride hailing platforms like ours will be primarily used as data aggregators,” says Bezzina. “The data we gather and analyze now will eventually be used to inform decisions related to autonomous vehicles, like where fleets should be placed. Google Cloud and TIM Enterprise enable us to support current market opportunities and be prepared for tomorrow.”
Check out more stories on the Google Cloud blog to learn how other companies are using Google Cloud and partners like TIM Enterprise to power their operations.