Podo: powering up with Google Cloud Platform

About Podo

Podo offers its customers control of their utility bills by providing a fully online interface and an easily understood payment plan tailored to its customers’ needs.

Industries: Utilities
Location: Spain

With Google Cloud Platform, Podo built a scalable, reliable infrastructure able to withstand high traffic spikes for a fraction of the cost of using physical machines.

Google Cloud Platform Results

  • Cuts server costs with flexible pricing and per minute billing
  • Scales up and down quickly and easily through the console
  • Enables comprehensive logging and monitoring with Stackdriver

Combining a slick, fully online interface with machine learning expertise in the back end, Podo offers its customers a simple way of managing their electricity and gas with payment plans tailored to their specific needs. Since its launch in July, 2016, Podo has won customers from all over Spain, eager to streamline their utilities bills and not have to spend hours waiting on the phone. As a startup, Podo needed to minimize costs and stay agile, but if it was going to compete with Spain’s biggest utility companies, it also had to build a robust infrastructure capable of rapid scaling. To do that, it turned to Google Cloud Platform (GCP).

Handled a thousandfold spike in web traffic after a national TV advert.

“We were very clear right from the start that we wanted to work with the best and, for us, the best was Google Cloud Platform. We didn’t just want the platform, we wanted the full stack of products like APIs and G Suite and all of the innovation that comes with that,” says Alberto Hernandez, Digital Platform Manager at Podo.

“What we've achieved with Google, is going from very small to very big with a fraction of the cost of using physical machines. The short development times, the scalability and the flexibility of the platform is what changed the game for us. The innovation is important for us as well. It’s not only about what Google has now but what it looks like it will have in the future. With Google, you're good now, you'll be better tomorrow.”

Alberto Hernandez, Digital Platform Manager at Podo.

High scalability, high flexibility

The utilities industry in Spain has strict regulatory requirements, which has resulted in complex legacy systems from providers. Podo’s purpose is to streamline the process of buying electricity and gas for its customers, and take the complexity out of their hands. To do that, it needed to have a compliant system with up-to-date security certifications. Providing customers with a fully online, cloud-based platform meant that it also had to have a stable, reliable infrastructure with absolutely minimal downtime. Podo was expecting to gain customers rapidly, especially after a national advertising campaign planned, so its web platform needed to be able to withstand huge spikes in traffic and maintain high performance. Podo did not have the resources of larger, more established companies in the energy sector and needed to make maximum use of every Euro it spent.

From the start, Podo knew that Google Cloud Platform was the best choice for its infrastructure. Deploying virtual instances with Google Compute Engine, Podo had a robust base for its platform which it could add and subtract virtual machines to at will to cope with changing demands. Compute Engine’s flexibility allowed Podo to build its applications on top of the virtual instances, while Stackdriver helped log and monitor every stage of the process. Google’s own significant investment in security certification and compliance meant that Podo could reassure its customers that their data was under the protection of one of the most advanced security teams in the world. Google’s flexible pricing and per minute billing meant that Podo could take advantage of GCP’s services but only pay for exactly what it used, avoiding costs in unused servers and resources.

“We used cloned machines with load balancer so everything would be shared equally across those machines. So that allowed us to quickly scale up and down depending on what we expected the load to be,” says Alberto. “It was pretty flexible in terms of turning machines on and off. I could do it straight from the console.”

“We used cloned machines with load balancer so everything would be shared equally across those machines. So that allowed us to quickly scale up and down depending on what we expected the load to be. It was pretty flexible in terms of turning machines on and off. I could do it straight from the console.”

Alberto Hernandez, Digital Platform Manager at Podo.

Handling traffic spikes with ease

Google Cloud Platform delivered a highly scalable, flexible infrastructure while still keeping Podo’s budget under control. Podo and GCP passed their first big test in September, 2016 when it had to deal with a thousandfold web traffic spike to 50,000 users after screening a national television advert. In preparation for the spike, Podo spent a month testing its platform for stresses and chokepoints. This was only made possible by Google’s per minute billing, which allowed Podo to scale up when it needed to and scale back down as soon as it was finished saving huge amounts compared to deploying physical servers. When the advert ran, Podo’s website easily coped with the extra demand and kept response times short. Since then, Podo has gone from strength to strength, expanding its customer base and its services. Currently, Podo is experimenting with Cloud Natural Language as a way of optimizing its customer service at scale. With Google Cloud Platform, Podo will be able to keep evolving and improving its platform.

“What we've achieved with Google, is going from very small to very big with a fraction of the cost of using physical machines. The short development times, the scalability and the flexibility of the platform is what changed the game for us,” says Alberto. “The innovation is important for us as well. It’s not only about what Google has now but what it looks like it will have in the future. With Google, you're good now, you'll be better tomorrow.”

About Podo

Podo offers its customers control of their utility bills by providing a fully online interface and an easily understood payment plan tailored to its customers’ needs.

Industries: Utilities
Location: Spain

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