Genbook: Powering online booking for small businesses with Google Cloud

About Genbook

Founded in 2006 and headquartered in Sydney, Genbook provides a robust online appointment scheduling and small business management platform to tens of thousands of services professionals in the United States and Canada.

Industries: Technology
Location: Australia

With Google Cloud, Genbook is creating a stable platform to support expansion and improving customer experiences with geolocation services.

Google Cloud Results

  • Modernizes application architecture for ease of management
  • Enables cost-effective management of demand peaks and troughs
  • Establishes platform for international expansion and new services

Supports processing of more than 10M bookings per year

Founded in 2006 and headquartered in Sydney, Genbook provides a robust online scheduling and small business management platform to tens of thousands of service professionals in the United States and Canada. In addition, using the mobile Genbook application or website, consumers can locate health, wellness, beauty, and other local service professionals and book appointments in real time with instant confirmation.

"Businesses, typically with 1 to 10 employees, pay a monthly fee to enable consumers to make bookings online through our service," explains Stefan Schmidt, Chief Technology Officer, Genbook. "We have about 6,500 businesses with over 10 million active customers who schedule 850,000 appointments each month."

Genbook's offerings encompass appointment, business, and staff management, as well as the generation of reviews from verified customers; a mobile business application and a mobile customer application; a web presence that enables businesses to connect to customers through search and social media websites; and a payment service.

"Google Cloud Platform gave us the opportunity to use different database types without running them ourselves, and build application caches that delivered sub-millisecond data access."

Stefan Schmidt, Chief Technology Officer, Genbook

Genbook started operations running production systems on leased servers in a hosted environment and what Schmidt describes as a semi-managed database cluster. However, to scale, the business had to undertake a six-week process to negotiate the provisioning of additional hardware and connect it to networks. This forced the Genbook engineering team to over provision infrastructure to accommodate demand spikes.

Reviewing infrastructure options

This lack of flexibility – combined with the cost, time, and resources needed to buy and run on-premises servers for test and development – prompted Genbook to review its infrastructure options. Genbook's engineering team expressed a strong preference for Google Cloud Platform, based on the product's stability and ease of use.

Schmidt's arrival at the business also added impetus to the move. "My previous roles were very cloud-focused," he explains.

"We fairly quickly determined we needed to move to the cloud to improve our infrastructure and to gain access to modern cloud services," Schmidt adds. "For example, Google Cloud Platform gave us the opportunity to use different database types without running them ourselves, and build application caches that delivered sub-millisecond data access."

Earlier this year, the business opted to migrate to Google Cloud Platform, with the availability of Cloud SQL for PostgreSQL to manage its relational PostgreSQL databases key to the decision.

"Reserve with Google displays the locations of participating businesses within a selected range and enables consumers to make bookings from within Google Search and Google Maps through the Genbook platform."

Stefan Schmidt, Chief Technology Officer, Genbook

Genbook then held discussions with the Google account management team about how to effectively translate its existing infrastructure to Google Cloud Platform and to complete the migration with minimal disruption to its 24-hour-a-day, 7-day-a-week business.

Migration completed internally

The business undertook the data migration to Google Cloud Platform region US-Central1 using internal resources and expertise. "We invested considerable time and effort in the database move in particular – including the infrastructure setup and load testing – and this contributed to a successful project," says Schmidt. "We completed the migration a couple of months ago."

Genbook's Google Cloud Platform infrastructure incorporates clusters orchestrated through Kubernetes Engine; one for an operations team undertaking continuous integration and continuous delivery and monitoring, and another to run production applications. The business is also using virtual machine instances in Compute Engine to run Elasticsearch distributed data search and analysis software, as well as a NoSQL database cluster for document storage.

"Using Kubernetes allowed us to move our core applications into a containerized environment for dynamic scalability to manage demand peaks and troughs and address our technical gaps," says Schmidt. "Kubernetes gives us greater flexibility to break down our monolithic application into four or five different services and host them side by side. This is more manageable for our small engineering team and gives us greater velocity."

"We're in a phase where we're looking to escalate our marketing and, with Google Cloud Platform, we have the technical capabilities to back that up."

Stefan Schmidt, Chief Technology Officer, Genbook

Focus on efficiency

With the Genbook Google Cloud Platform infrastructure running for two months, Schmidt is focusing on improving its efficiency and performance. "We've moved our local test and development servers into Google as well, so we're operating a production-plus environment," he says. "As we stabilize, we'll look to optimize our costs by pre-committing to infrastructure resources, while we'll also look to optimize our application and how it interacts with our database."

Genbook has also integrated its services with the Reserve with Google platform. "We've given consumers in the United States the ability to search for a local service provider that meets their needs," explains Schmidt. "Reserve with Google displays the locations of participating businesses within a selected range and enables consumers to make bookings from within Google Search and Google Maps through the Genbook platform."

The business is also expanding its integration with the Reserve with Google platform to allow consumers to make upfront payments to participating businesses as they complete a booking.

Google Cloud Platform has met all of Genbook's availability requirements and provided a sound platform for expansion into international markets. The business is now processing more than $1 billion worth of bookings through the platform, amounting to over 10 million bookings per year. "We're in a phase where we're looking to escalate our marketing and, with Google Cloud Platform, we have the technical capabilities to back that up," says Schmidt.

About Genbook

Founded in 2006 and headquartered in Sydney, Genbook provides a robust online appointment scheduling and small business management platform to tens of thousands of services professionals in the United States and Canada.

Industries: Technology
Location: Australia