BetterCloud: Scaling for success on Google Cloud Platform

About BetterCloud

BetterCloud is the first SaaS application management and security platform, enabling IT to centralize, orchestrate, and operationalize day-to-day administration and control for SaaS applications. Every day, thousands of customers rely on BetterCloud to centralize data and controls, surface operational intelligence, enforce complex security policies, and delegate custom administrator privileges across SaaS applications. BetterCloud is headquartered in New York City with an engineering office in Atlanta, GA.

Industries: Technology
Location: United States

Google Cloud Platform allowed BetterCloud to scale up its SaaS application management and security platform, the first of its kind, to manage the massive complexity and data loads required for cross-app operations.

Google Cloud Platform Results

  • Builds a powerful platform that manages multiple SaaS apps and billions of data objects for cross-app management
  • Improves speed of services by 20X
  • App scans are now continuous, versus just daily

Manage billions of data objects for millions of users

BetterCloud, founded in 2011, began by creating a security and management tool for organizations using G Suite. IT professionals in thousands of organizations turn to BetterCloud every day to automate complex workflows, enforce security policies, alert team members to key incidents and issues, and delegate granular privileged access roles, all through BetterCloud’s centralized interface.

In late 2016, BetterCloud introduced the first ever SaaS application management and security platform, extending this functionality beyond G Suite to support other SaaS applications like Slack, Salesforce, Dropbox, and more. This new platform can take action in any connected application in an effort to enforce an organization’s policies. For instance, if an IT department needs to offboard 20 employees leaving the company, they can automate that entire process through a workflow in BetterCloud. The platform can detect a change to those users’ profiles in G Suite, and then automatically transfer their Drive files, secondary Calendars, Sites, and more to their manager, hide those users in the directory, delete their future calendar events to free up calendar resources, and take similar actions in other SaaS applications like Slack and Salesforce. BetterCloud can also respond to events in the system based on activity thresholds or illegal actions across apps and platforms.

“You can’t beat the performance of Google Cloud Platform. We can stand up instances in seconds, not minutes, and deploy highly available databases across multiple zones in minutes, not days—we’ve been developing on it since the start, and we put a lot of faith in it.”

David Hardwick, CTO, BetterCloud

As an early adopter of Google Cloud Platform, BetterCloud focused its initial product on G Suite. Its early products relied heavily on Google infrastructure, as well—using Google Cloud Storage to handle data and Google App Engine for development and test environments. The first version of BetterCloud was released in just six months.

“We wanted to devote our energies to building a compelling product, not managing servers. Google App Engine allowed us to do just that,” says David Hardwick, CTO at BetterCloud. “You can’t beat the performance of Google Cloud Platform. We can stand up instances in seconds, not minutes, and deploy highly available databases across multiple zones in minutes, not days—we’ve been developing on it since the start, and we put a lot of faith in it.”

Handling scale and complexity

As BetterCloud grew into a cross-application management platform that could handle highly diverse IT environments, the team realized they were doing something unique, on a colossal scale. Other vendors were making tools for a single application or application suite, like Atlassian or Zendesk, but no one was trying to solve security and management problems across multiple SaaS apps. Accomplishing that required handling a massive array of users, user groups, files, and other elements, each of which has its own attached rules and privileges that may differ across applications. With this unique challenge, the BetterCloud team needed to address complex problems.

“The speed, reliability, and cost of the platform are some of the biggest benefits of using Google products. From a functional perspective, Google Compute Engine is so simple, for both VMs and persistent disks; that’s been amazing and saves so much time.”

Andrew Teall, VP of Platform Services, BetterCloud

“Our platform manages 5 billion data objects. It makes 900 million API calls per day. You can imagine what kind of resources we need to power that kind of scale and complexity,” says Andrew Teall, VP of Platform Services at BetterCloud. Google Cloud Platform can seamlessly handle that scale, and that is an important reason why BetterCloud continues to develop on Google. “The speed at which we can get mixed writes on a MySQL cluster—between 15,000 and 20,000 writes per second—really blew us away,” says Andrew. “It gave us confidence that Google would be able to handle the scale we needed to grow.”

In short, Google Cloud Platform has allowed BetterCloud to level up in both scale and complexity without passing the costs on to developers or customers. “The speed, reliability, and cost of the platform are some of the biggest benefits of using Google products,” says Andrew. “And from a functional perspective, Google Compute Engine is so simple, for both VMs and persistent disks; that’s been amazing and saves so much time. Thanks to Compute and autoscaling, we’ve been able to cut costs by 20% and time by 50% when keeping up with our customers’ SaaS data changes.”

At the same time data grew, performance actually increased. BetterCloud used to synchronize data between applications only about once a day. Now synchronization is continuous, and admins find out about incidents as they happen.

Enhancing security and availability

It’s crucial to keep all data as secure as possible. “When we access a customer’s SaaS environment, we have to get highly privileged access to retain the metadata we need to take corrective action. When customers ask just how secure their data is, they are happy about our work with Google because they already know Google’s reputation for high security,” says Andrew.

Because BetterCloud is tightly coupled with the tools customers use to get work done and keep their workplaces secure, it needs to work all the time. BetterCloud uses Google Cloud CDN to help ensure high availability for its application’s front-end. On the backend, BetterCloud leverages Google-powered load-balancing and autoscaling, this allows the team to deploy the application to three different availability zones, supporting failover and minimizing downtime.

“Thanks to Compute and autoscaling, we’ve been able to cut costs by 20% and time by 50% when keeping up with our customers’ SaaS data changes.”

Andrew Teall, VP of Platform Services, BetterCloud

Learning from growth

As BetterCloud scales up, it’s always considering improvements that will improve efficiency and get products to customers quickly and reliably. Internal teams currently use Google BigQuery for business insights on operational data, so they can make the right decisions to keep the company on track. BetterCloud already uses Docker for containerized apps, but is currently evaluating Google Kubernetes Engine to make containerization less costly and more efficient. “Kubernetes is amazingly flexible, but it’s also challenging to configure,” says David. “Given Google’s pricing per cluster-hour and the head start we’ll get from having all the best practices baked in, it’s a very easy decision.”

In the future, BetterCloud is looking to use Google to investigate its enormous data set in ways that could help customers even more. “We’re not ready for Google Machine Learning quite yet, but there’s a lot of strategic value in knowing what’s normal for a given customer,” adds Andrew. “We could learn about those norms from the data, alert them when there’s a divergence, and make strong recommendations.”

About BetterCloud

BetterCloud is the first SaaS application management and security platform, enabling IT to centralize, orchestrate, and operationalize day-to-day administration and control for SaaS applications. Every day, thousands of customers rely on BetterCloud to centralize data and controls, surface operational intelligence, enforce complex security policies, and delegate custom administrator privileges across SaaS applications. BetterCloud is headquartered in New York City with an engineering office in Atlanta, GA.

Industries: Technology
Location: United States

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