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Hivebrite: Giving online communities the tools to stay connected, engaged, and supported

About Hivebrite

Hivebrite gives communities of all sizes the tools they need to build deeper connections with members, share resources, and strengthen engagement. The platform is fully customizable and scales with each community’s evolving needs.

Industries: Technology
Location: France

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About Devoteam

Devoteam has guided 1,300 clients in 10+ countries through digital transformation, winning Google Cloud Reseller Partner of the Year in 2019.

Hivebrite migrated to Google Kubernetes Engine for world-class app performance and scale. It can now securely manage global community networks of more than one million users.

Google Cloud results

  • 100,000 community members can be contacted simultaneously in under an hour, a task that previously took several hours
  • Simple documentation on Google Cloud enables new DevOps hires to be onboarded three times faster than before
  • Supports the creation of improved fundraising forms to process donations 10x faster for causes that communities care about
  • Features and improvements delivered faster, thanks to being able to generate development environments in minutes, not days

Connecting communities of more than 1 million people

After graduation, newly-minted university alumni scatter back to their hometowns and to new lives. Catching up with campus friends goes from weekly get-togethers to monthly phone calls, to well-meaning text messages, promising that you’ll see each other again soon. Loneliness and loss of friends is common among university graduates. So, how do you keep in touch with friends, old and new, when life gets in the way?

Hivebrite, a French community management platform, is designed to solve this problem. It enables people to build connections with other members and offers features to strengthen community engagement. From job boards where alumni can recommend each other for opportunities, to online donation drives for community fundraising, to finding nearby people in the same network via GPS, Hivebrite is continually enhancing how it brings communities closer together. And its efforts have not gone unnoticed. The company counts Notre Dame University, Princeton University, the New York Stock Exchange, and CERN as happy customers.

The idea for this popular platform came from the experience of Hivebrite’s own founder, Jean Hamon. “While studying for my MBA, I got to know lots of great people from different backgrounds, but after graduating, it was tough to keep those relationships going,” he shares. “Existing social platforms didn’t give me the sense of community I was looking for, so I decided to build something I would prefer to use, and that’s how Hivebrite was born.”

“We were running the platform at full speed all day, every day, but we were missing periods where we could have let the ‘sports car’ rest. We wanted to optimize for the peaks and troughs in traffic. This is the main reason why we decided to move to Google Cloud.”

Florent Julien, Product Director, Hivebrite

Initially focusing on helping alumni associations keep in touch, Hivebrite soon found that its users wanted more from the platform. In addition to keeping in touch with their fellow alumni, members also wanted to stay connected to their professional networks, their favorite non-profit organizations, and other communities that played a part in their lives.

To meet this need, the Hivebrite team quickly expanded the platform’s focus to a host of other communities. But as the number and scale of its communities grew, optimizing performance was a key technical challenge. Today’s consumers are quick to turn away from platforms that aren’t super fast and super responsive, and the underlying infrastructure for any app needs to be optimized to handle both high traffic and high variability. Peak loads called for sports car-like power from Hivebrite’s existing cloud provider, but keeping a sports car revving 24/7 is wasteful and inefficient when it’s only used for two hours of the day.

“Today, we’re close to having four millions users (+86% YoY). So, coming in and out of our peak Monday morning traffic peak, our servers need to be able to adapt in real time,” says Florent Julien, Hivebrite’s Product Director. “We were running the platform at full speed all day, every day, but we were missing periods where we should have let the ‘sports car’ rest. We wanted to optimize for the peaks and troughs in traffic. This is the main reason why we decided to move to Google Cloud.”

Peak performance, anywhere in the world

Identifying Google Kubernetes Engine (GKE) as the best technology for app performance and scale, Hivebrite began using GKE on virtual machines on its existing servers. When Hivebrite took on major clients in the US and Switzerland, data localization requirements meant that the servers needed to be in those locations as well as France, which meant that Hivebrite was now running GKE on three separate GKE servers. With three development environments, Hivebrite needed to test new features in all three before release, as bugs that occur in one environment don’t always occur in others. This led to duplication of work for Hivebrite’s developers and days spent managing environments instead of working on new features for users. It was clear that Hivebrite needed a new cloud solution to optimize location, performance, and scale in a single, uniform environment.

Reaching out to Google Cloud Premier Partner Devoteam G Cloud, which has extensive experience building PCI-compliant infrastructure, Hivebrite began planning its migration to Google Cloud. The teams decided on a three-stage transition to Google Cloud, spanning 18 months. Stage one, design, and stage two, migration, took place over 12 months, while stage three would cover six months of monitoring and optimization. Underpinning it all was the goal of completing the migration in good time for its latest million-strong community to join the platform.

Multilayered, world-class security features

Besides scale, Hivebrite was looking to enhance security for its enterprise clients, who need to protect the data of both themselves and their users. These clients are often subject to data localization laws, requiring that a user’s data is stored in the user’s own country. In addition, fundraising and event sales require a PCI-compliant payment system. The larger the community, the greater the security concerns, so Hivebrite looked to Google Cloud for a solution.

The company was on a tight deadline to get its infrastructure PCI compliant before a top American university came on board. With the help of Devoteam G Cloud and its security expertise, Hivebrite was able to make its infrastructure compliant before the PCI certification audit at the end of August 2020. The company is using a wide range of Google Cloud security products for its migration. From Security Command Center’s threat detection and risk management, to Cloud Identity and Access Management’s (IAM) granular control of who can access what, customer and user data is protected at multiple levels.

“A year ago, we’d meet clients who would say, ‘We have a million users, can your platform handle that?’ and we would answer no. Today, with Google Cloud, we’re confident about scaling for clients with not just a million users, but more.”

Florent Julien, Product Director, Hivebrite

New environments created in just a few clicks

Moving to Google Cloud has brought huge savings for Hivebrite’s DevOps team. With Devoteam G Cloud’s support designing the infrastructure, the transition has become an opportunity for the DevOps team to instead focus on creating, simplifying, and standardizing documentation for infrastructure, communication protocols, application features, and best practices. Working within a single, uniform Google Cloud environment, developers know that their released features will perform consistently. This frees up their time to work on value-adding tasks instead of debugging and setup.

The simpler documentation and development environment have led to faster onboarding times for new DevOps staff; onboarding used to take three months, today it only takes one. The DevOps team also sees big time savings in other areas, for example, new environments for QA, testing, and staging can be created in just a few clicks, taking minutes instead of several days.

“With Compute Engine, we made our online donation system 10 or 20 times faster. Notre Dame University was able to raise 30% more during its giving campaign than with its previous system. It raised millions in a couple of days, including a record number of donations from young alumni.”

Florent Julien, Product Director, Hivebrite

Performance benefits passed on to customers

Before the migration to Google Cloud began, Hivebrite’s largest community had close to 300,000 users, and that was its maximum capacity. Today, Hivebrite can accommodate many communities with millions of users. “A year ago, we’d meet clients who would say, ‘We have a million users, can your platform handle that?’ and we would answer no,” shares Florent Julien, Hivebrite’s Product Director. “Today, with Google Cloud, we’re confident about scaling for clients with not just a million users, but more.”

Enabling communication across communities of millions was a challenge for Hivebrite’s previous cloud provider, with actions such as exporting user data, querying a database, or starting an email campaign often taking huge amounts of time and computational effort. Before, when preparing an email campaign for 100,000 users, Hivebrite users would have to wait up to three hours to dispatch all the emails and display the analytics on a dashboard. With Google Cloud, Hivebrite has reduced the wait time to less than an hour.

As the migration continues, the company expects to see similar reductions in processing time for other bulk actions, such as sending invitations, modification of user data, and export. Community managers will be able to reach out to and manage their communities faster than ever before.

While smoother performance itself is a benefit for Hivebrite’s users, it is also a foundation for other important benefits. “With Compute Engine, we made our online donation system 10 or 20 times faster,” says Florent. “Notre Dame University was able to raise 30% more during its giving campaign than with its previous system. It raised millions in a couple of days, including a record number of donations from young alumni.”

Always innovating to connect more people, in more ways

Helping people to stay in touch year after year means being aware of how those connections can change. In 2020, COVID-19 lockdown measures around the world changed our workplaces, our places of learning, and our social events in ways we had never experienced before. Hivebrite looked to its users and realized that they wanted a way to raise funds for those working against or affected by coronavirus. To deliver this, the company decided to make its donations feature free to all users.

Meanwhile, it continues to support its communities with a platform that’s highly responsive and available, something many people need more than ever in 2020. It continues to harness Google Kubernetes Engine to build features that meet the unique needs of today. “We used GKE to develop a native integration with a leading video conferencing system and our event module, to take our physical events online during lockdown,” says Florent.

Today, Hivebrite is well into the third stage of its migration project, where it aims to match power needs to its requirements without redundancy. “We have a culture of doing things right, and we want to keep evolving as we see more activity, more people on the platform, and more ways of connecting communities. We see Google Cloud playing a major role in that growth.”

Tell us your challenge. We're here to help.

Contact us

About Hivebrite

Hivebrite gives communities of all sizes the tools they need to build deeper connections with members, share resources, and strengthen engagement. The platform is fully customizable and scales with each community’s evolving needs.

Industries: Technology
Location: France

About Devoteam

Devoteam has guided 1,300 clients in 10+ countries through digital transformation, winning Google Cloud Reseller Partner of the Year in 2019.