Exponea: Scaling when it matters most, with Google Cloud

About Exponea

Exponea transforms data into customer relationships. Built on top of a customer data platform (CDP), Exponea's marketing execution channels are fueled by AI-supported decision-making. This enables the world's top brands to deliver a personalized, omnichannel experience throughout the entire customer life cycle.

Industries: Technology, Other
Location: Slovakia

Exponea built a scalable, AI-enabled digital marketing platform with global reach that can withstand the Black Friday peak with ease.

Google Cloud results

  • Scales infrastructure to handle more than double the normal load during Black Friday with minimal cost
  • Speeds up development of new features and bug fixes, deploying in seconds rather than minutes
  • Empowers developers to go beyond test environments and take responsibility for the full life cycle of their products

Processes around 7 billion events per client

For companies with an online presence, connecting with customers is one of the biggest challenges, but also among the most rewarding. If a company can combine the convenience of online shopping with quality service, it has the potential to create a genuine connection with its customers. Exponea's customer data platform, with built-in marketing execution, helps ecommerce retailers, and increasingly, banks, telecommunications, and healthcare companies, interact more effectively with customers through its online platform. "We help our clients scale the personalization of their customer experience, using AI modules to deliver the most relevant content and offers," says Lenka Gondová. "With the Exponea platform, clients take total control of their customer experience, automating the message over multiple marketing channels, at each stage of the customer life cycle."

"Every time we gained more clients, we lost development velocity because we were managing the infrastructure ourselves. We needed a new infrastructure with managed services that could help us scale up without compromising on agility. For us, that was Google Cloud."

Szabolcs Balogh, VP of Technology, Exponea

Since its launch in 2015, Exponea's progress has been spectacular, almost quadrupling in size since then. By late 2017, the growth in customers began to strain the company's bare-metal IT infrastructure. With GDPR regulations on the horizon and a global client base, Exponea had to prepare for a more complex security environment. Its existing infrastructure was simply not capable of handling what was coming, so Exponea turned to Google Cloud.

"Every time we gained more clients, we lost development velocity because we were managing the infrastructure ourselves," says Szabolcs Balogh, VP of Technology for Exponea. "We needed a new solution with managed services that could help us scale up without compromising on agility. For us, that was Google Cloud."

Scalability, flexibility, security with Google Kubernetes Engine

As Exponea grew, the company began to reach the limits of its bare-metal infrastructure. It wasn't just development that was affected but stability as well. "We had servers go down, and then the backups at our data center provider didn't have good connections," says Lenka. "We didn't ever want to be in a situation where our service was affected." By late 2017, it was clear that the company needed a more scalable, stable, and secure infrastructure.

After testing the leading cloud vendors, Exponea chose Google Cloud for its new solution. "It really stood out from the competition because of its ease of use," says Szabolcs "We knew we could quickly migrate to a Google Cloud solution without too much trouble." The global reach of Google Cloud also meant that Exponea could respond to its clients' different needs. "For GDPR, some of our clients wanted to keep all their data in Europe. Others wanted to keep theirs in the USA. With Google Cloud, we could do both easily," says Lenka.

"Google Cloud integrates its products very well. If you get some data, you can store it in Google Cloud Storage until you need it, and analyze it in Google BigQuery in just a few minutes. You don't have to spend a day setting up new infrastructure."

Szabolcs Balogh, VP of Technology, Exponea

As Exponea began migrating to Google Cloud, it saw the value of a service-based infrastructure, and began to redesign its architecture around containers rather than just virtual machines. "It wasn't like changing the wheels on a car," says Szabolcs. "More like replacing the car with a plane!" Google Kubernetes Engine (GKE) was the backbone of the new infrastructure, orchestrating the stateless services that Exponea used in its platform. For the few stateful services that Exponea needed, such as databases, the company used virtual machines with Compute Engine, which it could spin up and shut down as needed. For Exponea's AI platform, Cloud Storage held the data sources, which had been processed with Cloud Dataproc, and GKE was used to train and deploy the prediction models. Over the course of 2018, Exponea worked to refine its infrastructure even further to make more effective use of Google Cloud products, using BigQuery for data analytics and Stackdriver for monitoring and logging.

"Google Cloud integrates its products very well," says Szabolcs. "If you get some data, you can store it in Google Cloud Storage until you need it, and analyze it in Google BigQuery in just a few minutes. You don't have to spend a day setting up new infrastructure."

Peak performance, flattened costs

The big test for Exponea's new infrastructure came on Black Friday, 2018, the busiest retail event of the year for much of the world. The load on servers for Exponea was often much bigger than the previous year's because the company was not only winning more customers, it was winning bigger customers. "In 2017, our average customer would generate around 500 million events monthly," says Lenka. "In 2018, that number was more than 7 billion."

"Google Cloud really helped us to make better use of their products and save money. As a result, we could dramatically increase our CPU and memory usage while keeping costs flat. We could deliver a stable service to more customers without having to pass the cost on to them."

Lenka Gondová, Chief Information Security Officer, Exponea

Over the course of the year, the company worked extensively with Google Cloud to optimize its architecture for the unique challenges it faced. Opting for the premium level of support from Google Cloud meant that Exponea could discuss its goals in depth with technical account managers who could recommend the best products and implementation strategies. Thanks to Google Cloud, Exponea's platform more than doubled its usual load in just two weeks and delivered a reliably smooth service to its customers.

"Google Cloud really helped us to make better use of its products and save money," says Lenka. "As a result, we could dramatically increase our CPU and memory usage while keeping costs flat. We could deliver a stable service to more customers without having to pass the cost on to them."

The migration to Google Cloud has also helped Exponea's IT team to work in much faster, more efficient cycles. "In the past, deploying new versions could take between 20 minutes and an hour and the more customers we had, the longer development would take," says Szabolcz. "With Google Cloud, we can deploy in under 20 seconds, and this doesn't change, no matter how many new customers we've added." Using managed services in GKE and other Google Cloud products has helped to empower developers to take on responsibility for new projects and not have to wait on DevOps staff to set up new infrastructure.

"It's really changed the culture of our development," says Matúš Cimerman, an engineer and Google Cloud professional at Exponea. "Now every developer is responsible for the entire lifecycle of the products they work on, and they're not just focused on how it performs in the testing environment. It's helped to make us better developers overall."

As Exponea goes from strength to strength, it continues to look for new ways to improve its platform. The company is currently exploring Google Cloud machine learning and AI tools to see what insight can be gained from its internal monitoring and how that can be converted into even greater efficiencies. Exponea's close relationship with Google Cloud has been key to solving both the problems of the present and mapping out a path for the future. "We've been able to concentrate on growing our business and we look forward to more of the same with Google Cloud at our side," says Lenka.

About Exponea

Exponea transforms data into customer relationships. Built on top of a customer data platform (CDP), Exponea's marketing execution channels are fueled by AI-supported decision-making. This enables the world's top brands to deliver a personalized, omnichannel experience throughout the entire customer life cycle.

Industries: Technology, Other
Location: Slovakia