Mixpanel: Scalable, high-performance product analytics

About Mixpanel

Founded in 2009, Mixpanel is a San Francisco-based product analytics company that tracks user interactions with web and mobile applications and collects data to build custom reports and measure user engagement and retention. Mixpanel has more than 250 employees and serves nearly 20,000 customers in 150 countries.

Industries: Technology
Location: United States

By moving its service to Google Cloud Platform and using Google Kubernetes Engine to automatically scale its proprietary analytics services, Mixpanel is maintaining excellent performance and reliability while keeping its engineers focused on innovation.

Google Cloud Results

  • Reclaims 30-50% of engineering time for innovation and product development
  • Maintains bare-metal performance in the cloud with sub-second median query speeds
  • Scales to support enterprise customers with increasingly complex queries and very large datasets

Analyzing ~7 Trillion data points every year

With the mission to help the world learn from its data, Mixpanel is democratizing product analytics for developers of mobile and web applications, offering an easy-to-use platform that lets everyone in an organization better understand each user’s journey. By gaining a deeper understanding of how users interact with their apps, product teams and leaders can improve quality and get the most value from their development cycles.

“We wanted a cloud provider that would allow us to continually innovate on performance, functionality, and price. Running our proprietary analytics database on Google Cloud Platform is a significant competitive differentiator for us in an increasingly crowded market because we can scale to serve very large enterprise customers.”

Arya Asemanfar, Engineering Manager, Mixpanel

Mixpanel’s workload is demanding, processing approximately 7 trillion data points every year. The average customer query scans 50,000 events, and queries can reach as high as 10 billion events. As the company grew, it became difficult to scale using hosted bare metal servers. System failures and downtime became more frequent, draining precious engineering resources. Mixpanel also needed to keep its median query speed to under one second at scale to enable real time analytics, a promise it makes to customers.

After closely evaluating leading cloud providers, Mixpanel began moving its production workloads, including a proprietary analytics database, to Google Cloud Platform. Mixpanel uses Google Kubernetes Engine to automatically scale resources and Google Persistent Disk for fast, flexible block storage. To maintain sub-second query speeds, it caches hundreds of terabytes of data on local SSDs on Google Compute Engine.

“All of our applications and our primary database now run on Google Kubernetes Engine. Google Kubernetes Engine gives us elasticity and scalable performance for our Kubernetes clusters,” says Arya Asemanfar, Engineering Manager at Mixpanel. “It’s fully supported and managed by Google, which makes it more attractive to us than elastic container services from other cloud providers.”

Mixpanel ingests nearly 1 petabyte of uncompressed data each month. With the company’s previous hosting provider, adding query capacity took five to seven days. With Google Cloud Platform, Mixpanel can add capacity in minutes, helping it bring on larger enterprise customers with higher data volumes and more complex questions while keeping more of its engineering resources focused on innovation and product development.

“We wanted a cloud provider that would allow us to continually innovate on performance, functionality, and price,” says Arya. “Running our proprietary analytics database on Google Cloud Platform is a significant competitive differentiator for us in an increasingly crowded market because we can scale to serve very large enterprise customers.”

“We saw the pace of innovation as faster at Google, which opens up possibilities for us to do things we otherwise couldn’t do. With Google Cloud Platform doing a lot of the heavy lifting, we can concentrate on making our analytics products the best they can be.”

Joe Xavier, VP of Engineering, Mixpanel

Scaling near real-time analytics

Mixpanel selected Google Cloud Platform because it’s easy to use and scale, offers a customer-friendly pricing model, and provides the dependability the company needs to offer higher uptime for customers and load-balance for global operations. It’s also a more secure platform, encrypting data with the same standards and key management policies used for Google’s own corporate data.

“In architecting our database for the cloud, we connected with engineers at Google to help validate our architecture,” says Joe Xavier, Vice President of Engineering at Mixpanel. ”Google displayed a clear willingness to collaborate with us and helped us move quickly. It’s been fantastic working with the Google Cloud team. Communication is easy, and the team is very responsive.”

Improving product quality

Mixpanel uses Google Cloud Storage to quickly back up its critical data, which is the lifeblood of its business. To send timely and accurate email updates and push notifications to customers, Mixpanel relies on Google Cloud Pub/Sub to publish and subscribe to data events from various services. It uses Google Cloud Datastore to maintain the complex metadata for its production analytics database, and uses Google Cloud Spanner to quickly deploy relational databases. Using cloud services instead of building custom solutions in-house allows Mixpanel’s engineering team to focus on the company’s core expertise: analytics.

“We saw the pace of innovation as faster at Google, which opens up possibilities for us to do things we otherwise couldn’t do,” says Joe. “With Google Cloud Platform doing a lot of the heavy lifting, we can concentrate on making our analytics products the best they can be.”

Connecting a global company

To improve employee productivity and communicate between its offices in San Francisco, New York, Seattle, and London, Mixpanel uses G Suite tools such as Gmail, Google Drive, Sheets, Docs, and Calendar. For face-to-face collaboration, teams often conduct meetings using Hangouts, saving time and reducing business travel costs.

“Our offices run very effectively on G Suite,” says Joe. “We have the tools to keep our dispersed, mobile teams collaborating easily and reliably.”

“Moving to Google Cloud Platform gives us an elastic, automated infrastructure platform that allows engineering to be more efficient. We’re reclaiming 30% to 50% of our engineers’ time to focus on innovation and product development, giving our customers much more value over time.”

Arya Asemanfar, Engineering Manager, Mixpanel

Reclaiming time for innovation

With Google Cloud Platform, Mixpanel has a much more reliable infrastructure, and the company benefits from a variety of cloud services that enable its engineering and development teams to be more productive and effective. As a result, Mixpanel can move toward a culture of continuous innovation, shipping new features faster, responding quickly to customer requests, and enhancing analytics functionality.

“Moving to Google Cloud Platform gives us an elastic, automated infrastructure platform that allows engineering to be more efficient,” adds Arya. “We’re reclaiming 30% to 50% of our engineers’ time to focus on innovation and product development, giving our customers much more value over time.”

About Mixpanel

Founded in 2009, Mixpanel is a San Francisco-based product analytics company that tracks user interactions with web and mobile applications and collects data to build custom reports and measure user engagement and retention. Mixpanel has more than 250 employees and serves nearly 20,000 customers in 150 countries.

Industries: Technology
Location: United States

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Try Kubernetes Engine, BigQuery, and other Cloud Platform products with $300 in free credit and 12 months.

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