Kapten: Driving plans for expansion, with tools that put the development team in control

About Kapten

Kapten offers private-hire vehicle services, with more than two million customers and 50,000 drivers operating in cities across Europe including Paris, Lisbon, Porto, and London.

Industries: Technology
Location: France

About Sfeir

Sfeir is a community developed by more than 450 talented developers, offering small and large businesses innovative and ambitious technological solutions.

Kapten migrated its back end to Google Kubernetes Engine and its data infrastructure to Google Cloud for a data lake and warehouse solution to support better processes, customer service, and expansion.

Google Cloud results

  • Automates and optimizes processes on Google Kubernetes Engine to make deployments twice as efficient
  • Leverages BigQuery and Cloud Bigtable for a pipeline that handles large volumes and delivers analyses fast
  • Improves customer service and driver support by reducing request response times by up to 100ms
  • Divides data lake query execution time by more than 200x in extreme cases

Enables 25 daily deployments to keep service up-to-date

According to Reuters, the ride sharing market is expected to achieve a global growth rate of more than 20% by 2025. Standing out in this increasingly competitive marketplace isn’t easy, but French company Kapten has been building its client base by focusing on customer service and driver satisfaction. The company has grown over the past six years to become a leading player in the French market, with Daimler AG becoming a majority stakeholder in 2017. Kapten now also operates in Portugal and the UK.

“At Kapten, we aim to make our services accessible to anyone,” explains Gilles Rasigade, the company’s CTO. “We have a lower price point than many of our competitors, and we also try to have a positive impact in the areas where we operate. That means offering great customer care to people using our service and supporting our drivers.” To provide this high level of service, Kapten has both customer and driver apps on iOS and Android that function in real time, updating the position of drivers every few seconds and handling millions of requests every hour.

“Competition in the ride-hailing market is strong, so it’s important that we offer customers the best possible user experience, while innovating and reducing time to market. From a technology perspective, that means we need to deploy extremely fast, while minimizing the risk of disruption.”

Gilles Rasigade, CTO, Kapten

Kapten had previously built its container-based microservices architecture on another cloud platform, but in order to handle its growing volume of customers and further automate its processes, it decided to switch to Kubernetes. It chose Google Cloud as the right hosting provider to deliver customized container management with Google Kubernetes Engine (GKE), where it now runs 135 microservices. Now that it benefits from the orchestration layer offered by GKE, Kapten no longer needs to spend time developing the tools to manage these microservices and find workarounds.

“Competition in the ride-hailing market is strong, so it’s important that we offer customers the best possible user experience, while innovating and reducing time to market,” says Gilles. “From a technology perspective, that means we need to deploy extremely fast, while minimizing the risk of disruption.”

Migrating with zero disruption to customers or drivers

In order to maximize efficiency and gain the best performance at the lowest price point, companies need to be able to configure their infrastructure to their individual needs. “We wanted to be able to configure everything ourselves, from scalability to availability zones, but our previous solution didn’t give us the control we needed to do that,” explains Gilles. Kapten was already using Compute Engine to run virtual machines for its monitoring stack and had also switched to BigQuery for its data processing pipeline. “Based on the performance of those products, we were confident in expanding our Google Cloud footprint to GKE,” says Gilles.

“Using Google Kubernetes Engine, it’s really easy to scale up and add extra nodes on a cluster. Because you can dynamically adjust the number of nodes and pods, it’s much more efficient. For the same price, we’re able to sustain twice the volume we could previously.”

Gilles Rasigade, CTO, Kapten

To eliminate any disruption to the service for customers and drivers, Kapten rewrote its tools so it was able to deploy in parallel on its previous platform and GKE. It began by migrating its testing environment, then rerouting the network, and finally switching its production completely to GKE. “The Google Cloud team offered us really strong support,” says Gilles. “With their help, our team members are now Kubernetes experts: we understand all the building blocks, and that enabled us to manage a zero-downtime migration so efficiently.”

With GKE, it’s easier for Kapten to implement custom scaling solutions. “Using Google Kubernetes Engine, it’s really easy to scale up and add extra nodes on a cluster,” says Gilles. “Because you can dynamically adjust the number of nodes and pods, it’s much more efficient. For the same price, we’re able to sustain twice the volume we could previously.”

Using Google Cloud analytics for closer monitoring

Kapten also recently finished the migration of its data warehouse to Google Cloud, with the help of Google Premier Partner Sfeir. “At Kapten, we make decisions based on data, so it’s really important to have the most accurate and most recent data available to use,” says Gilles. “It helps us to understand the market and react quickly.” Kapten uses BigQuery and Cloud Storage to manage the high volumes of data, including up to 50 TB of data ingested and 3,000 queries handled every day.

Kapten is also working on a project using Cloud Bigtable, which will enable it to aggregate events in different domains and access information in real time. That will help the company to get access to aggregated events for machine learning services, by carefully monitoring live traffic. It also uses Cloud Armor to protect the system from disruptive DDoS (distributed denial of service) cyberattacks.

“We now have a very efficient data lake that provides access to anonymized and statistically reliable data to every team in the company that needs it,” says Gilles. “Because we can handle larger volumes of data, and analyze faster thanks to Google BigQuery, we can perform calculations that were previously simply not possible.”

“Our system is now created, configured, and managed by our own teams. We’ve reduced the response time for almost every request by around 20%, which means our applications provide a better user experience for our drivers and customers.”

Gilles Rasigade, CTO, Kapten

Feeding company growth with improved customer service

Since migrating to Google Cloud, Kapten has better control of its system parameters, so it’s easier to make improvements to its services. “Our system is now created, configured, and managed by our own teams,” says Gilles. “We’ve reduced the response time for almost every request by around 100ms, which means our applications provide a better user experience for our drivers and customers.” Because it’s easier for Kapten’s developers to work autonomously, the company is able to release more than 25 deployments per day, which means its service is constantly being optimized.

In the next five years, Kapten plans to become a market leader in the European ride-hailing market. To get there, it plans on focusing on the quality of its product and customer services, following a precise road map for expansion to new cities. The Google Cloud network of data centers will support Kapten in achieving this goal. “It’s a real advantage to be able to deploy as close to our customers as possible: we currently use the data centers in Europe, and we will expand our usage as we grow,” says Gilles.

“When we interact with the Google Cloud team, it’s almost like we’re working for the same company,” he adds with a smile. “We have the same goal, which is to find the best solution for our challenges. We want to sustain our current growth rate, and I’m confident that Google Cloud will help us to do that.”

About Kapten

Kapten offers private-hire vehicle services, with more than two million customers and 50,000 drivers operating in cities across Europe including Paris, Lisbon, Porto, and London.

Industries: Technology
Location: France

About Sfeir

Sfeir is a community developed by more than 450 talented developers, offering small and large businesses innovative and ambitious technological solutions.