BQ: Powering mobile innovation

Travel most anywhere in the world and you’ll see people using smartphones for work, for play, and to stay connected with friends and family. As global demand for mobile technologies continues to soar, smartphone manufacturing has become an ultra-competitive business dominated by highly visible, global brands.

Just a few years ago, the idea that a small European company could compete with industry giants seemed unlikely, but that’s exactly what BQ did. The company realized that many people in Spain felt that they were paying too much for their phones and offered cost-conscious consumers what they wanted: excellent service and a high-quality devices at a more affordable price.

The strategy worked, and demand for BQ products and services increased significantly across Europe. The company also found new ways to grow, becoming one of the top three 3D printer manufacturers in Europe. Suddenly, BQ went from providing services to several thousand local customers to having to provide reliable service and updates to millions of devices—a challenge difficult to manage using an IT infrastructure built on individual virtual machines.

To scale quickly, BQ began migrating services to Docker containers running on Google Container Engine--built on the open source Kubernetes system. With Container Engine, BQ has a managed orchestration platform for Kubernetes to keep its small team focused on innovation rather than IT maintenance.

“Since we moved to Google Container Engine on Google Cloud Platform, our development is much easier. There is no extra work for our team in having to manage our extensive environment, allowing us to ship faster and to focus on more strategic projects.” - Pablo Moncada, IT DevOps Team Lead, BQ

Better service at a lower cost with Google Cloud Platform

In addition to streamlining management, BQ wanted to reduce costs while maintaining high availability. Google Cloud Platform helped solve both problems.

By using preemptible (highly affordable, short-lived) Google Compute Engine instances with automated container management for fault tolerance, BQ gets the best of both worlds: highly affordable compute instances and high availability. It can therefore operate at a significantly lower cost and provide better service to customers and employees. Instead of running each cloud service on a separate node, BQ now runs 350 services on just 20 nodes.

The company also relies on Google Cloud SQL which provides fully managed database services, freeing up BQ engineers from operational tasks and performance optimization. With the help of Cloud SQL, the company engineers can improve development cycles and gain more time to work on projects that provide value to its customers.

“By moving Google Cloud Platform, we were able to scale from 15 services to 350 services while reducing our cloud hosting costs by approximately 60%. A team of three engineers is all we need to keep our environment running smoothly. Without Google Cloud Platform, we would need three times as many people,” says Pablo.

Rich insights with Google BigQuery

BQ also uses Google BigQuery to quickly analyze information from millions of devices and application logs. Engineers and product development teams can then visualize metrics with Tableau and build custom reports and dashboards using Google Data Studio and glean valuable insights that influence product development and customer services.

“We are constantly improving product quality based on user experience data analyzed with BigQuery. For example, we can tell if a hardware component such as an antenna is affecting smartphone performance, or understand how a software update is impacting battery life. To gather this intelligence, we query across multiple databases containing large stores of data, which would be impossible to do cost-effectively without BigQuery,” says Pablo.

Transparent and connected with Google G Suite

From day one, BQ built its business processes around G Suite, using Google Drive for an open, central storage platform; Sheets, Docs, and Calendar for transparent collaboration; Gmail for fast email searches and reliable message delivery; and Hangouts to maximize staff contact while saving on travel, video conferencing, and telecom costs overall.

“The combination of G Suite and Google Cloud Platform empowers our small team of engineers to effectively serve BQ’s employees around the world. There’s instant, reliable collaboration between our teams worldwide. The G Suite products are especially optimized for mobile use, so any employee at any time can effectively communicate product challenges or opportunities that we can address to ensure continued delivery of world-class services,” says Pablo.

Staying one step ahead

With Google Cloud Platform and G Suite, BQ can increase its market share and pave the way for future innovations. The company regularly collaborates with Google’s Android team and is currently testing the Google Cloud Machine Learning Engine with the goal of enhancing its products with artificial intelligence.

“With its expertise in a rapidly evolving technology landscape, Google is the perfect match for us in a world that demands constant improvement in services. Our goals align nicely with Google’s: we want to empower people with the right tools to work and play their best,” adds Pablo.