Route4Me: Increasing customer success with fast, reliable vehicle routing

About Route4Me

Founded in 2009, Route4Me™ provides route planning optimization software that helps business users efficiently plan and optimize multiple-stop driving routes. Route4Me is among the top 5 highest-grossing navigation apps worldwide.

Industries: Technology
Location: United States

Route4Me improves scalability, flexibility, reliability, and reduces costs by moving its core routing optimization algorithms and clusters to Google Cloud Platform, including Google Kubernetes Engine.

Google Cloud Results

  • Improves application performance by 8x to 12x; customers can create increasingly complex optimized driving routes in single-digit seconds
  • Improves customer satisfaction via increased reliability and greater application performance
  • Focuses on adding value to customers by improving software and algorithms, not infrastructure management

Saves 5x in infrastructure costs

In 2009, Dan Khasis needed to rent an apartment. His search had him driving around the greater New York City area in unfamiliar areas, scattershot-style, often ending up where he started. The frustrating experience led the serial entrepreneur to launch Route4Me, a smartphone navigation app to help consumers create driving routes optimized for multiple stops.

Soon, business users recognized Route4Me’s value and requested enhancements specifically for them. While route optimization apps for big businesses already existed, they were almost exclusively offline desktop programs that were expensive to purchase, deploy, and get trained on. Recognizing the opportunity, Route4Me developed an affordable route optimization solution across various devices, such as smartphones, smartwatches, and telematics devices. The software was tailored to logistics-intensive businesses such as last-mile delivery services and business units conducting field sales, field service, and field marketing functions.

As Route4Me grew its user base, it became clear that its infrastructure of rented, dedicated servers from various providers wasn’t sustainable. “The hardware costs seemed low, but there were many risks and hidden costs,” says Dan Khasis, Co-founder and CEO at Route4Me. For example, “Multi-zone disaster recovery, high availability, automated failover, and on-demand surging of many nodes was simply impossible,“ he adds.

Because under the hood Route4Me’s routing optimization platform requires complex computations, the company needed a globally scalable infrastructure capable of delivering low latency and high throughput. Route4Me also needed to stay competitive by developing and delivering new services as quickly and efficiently as possible.

For these and other reasons, Route4Me moved 100% into the cloud. “Like many entrepreneurial software companies, we test all the latest technologies we can find before upgrading. Typically we go with the fastest technology, with a strong bias towards open source and open standards,” Khasis says. Based on extensive testing, Route4Me selected Google Cloud Platform (GCP). Along with the scalability, flexibility, reliability, and low-cost structure of GCP, Route4Me had already migrated its entire platform to containerized microservices, which Khasis says “are extremely stable and reliable” on Google Kubernetes Engine. While Route4Me has proprietary routing and route optimization engines, it uses Google Maps for high-precision geocoding and as the frontend.

With GCP, Route4Me has reduced its IT infrastructure costs while delivering faster route optimizations and more reliable service to customers. Because of GCP, the company is also planning to add services that will deliver the fastest possible routing simulations and calculations to customers at a price that Khasis says is “impossible without a mature cloud-based platform like GCP.”

“Our core services and algorithms work much faster on the Google architecture, bringing the total time to solve a complex route problem down to single-digit seconds.”

Dan Khasis, Co-founder and CEO, Route4Me

Unexpected savings, pleasant surprises

The migration to GCP and Kubernetes Engine required Route4Me to revamp its Service-Oriented Architecture (SOA) and convert millions of lines of code into containerized microservices running on Kubernetes Engine. With more than 150 microservices and thousands of add-on modules and features offered on the Route4Me platform, the migration took several months. But the transition, which began in May 2017 and concluded toward year’s end, went smoothly. “Thanks to the reliability and open source portability of Google Kubernetes Engine, Route4Me experienced one-tenth of the problems that we’ve had when onboarding to other cloud providers,” says Khasis.

Halfway into the migration, Route4Me engineers discovered an unexpected cost savings. The ability to run preemptible virtual machine (VM) instances with Kubernetes Engine resulted in a 90% savings in infrastructure costs, according to Khasis.

The engineering team was also pleasantly surprised by the improved intra-system latency and performance between the Google network and those of third-party systems and other data centers that Route4Me connects to. Overall latency dropped from 8x to 12x. “Where it used to take 8 to 14 seconds to plan a complicated route, now it takes as little as 2 seconds,” Khasis says. Route4Me is also running most of its transactional and operational data through Google BigQuery for a variety of business use cases, including complex machine learning tasks such as geospatial analytics, geospatial pattern detection, and synthetic density

“Since we moved our proprietary marketing automation system to Google Cloud Platform, we began delivering our omni-channel marketing communications more reliably, and the correct message reached customers faster and at just the right moment. That’s translated to happier customers and increased revenue.”

Dan Khasis, Co-founder and CEO, Route4Me

Scaling while delivering great performance

Route4Me algorithms take into account such data as driving distance, driving time, who’s driving, the day of the week, the vehicle being used, weather conditions, and dozens of other attributes. “All those scenarios and data have to be run in near real time,” Khasis explains. The Route4Me system must access multiple internal and external databases, aggregate all the information in parallel, and deliver it using a high-speed infrastructure platform.

“Our core services and algorithms work much faster on a Google architecture, bringing the total time to solve a complex route problem down to single-digit seconds.” “Many of those steps are resource-intensive,” Khasis adds. “With Kubernetes Engine clusters, we can do much more, scaling up and down as needed, and still deliver great performance to customers around the world.”

Because of its scale, Route4Me built its own automation system for marketing, support, and communications with its customers. “Since we moved our proprietary marketing automation system to GCP, we began delivering our omni-channel marketing communications more reliably, and the correct message reached customers faster and at just the right moment,” says Khasis. “That’s translated to happier customers and increased revenue.”

Customer satisfaction has increased, too, because Route4Me’s users experience far fewer slowdowns than before due to the reliability of GCP. The reliability also means the company spends less time worrying about certain clusters or servers going down for extended periods of time. “We have zero sysadmins, which was the Achilles heel of some of my previous startups,” says Khasis. “So we can focus on software development rather than infrastructure management.”

In order to scale as needed and develop new features, Khasis had expected the company would need to hire more SysAdmin, DevOps, and SecOps staff. “But once we migrated to the modern GCP environment, we didn’t have to make those hires. We saved a lot of money by not having to hire, train, and manage more people,” explains Khasis.

Flexible GCP pricing, in which customers only pay for what they use, has saved Route4Me money on its IT infrastructure. “Preemptible server pricing on GCP is so aggressive,” Khasis says. “If servers are automatically shut off for a certain time period, we don’t pay for them for that period. And if servers are on for a certain amount of time, we get an automatic 30% discount. We’re saving money on the platform with fixed and dynamic workloads.”

Per-second billing with GCP also helps Route4Me cut costs. “If it only takes 25 seconds to do something, we only pay for those 25 seconds,” Khasis says. For the same 25 seconds, other cloud providers might charge for 10 minutes usage or even an hour.”

“In order to help as many logistics-intensive businesses as possible, we intend to migrate our proprietary mapping, routing, and route optimization services to Google Cloud Spanner to take advantage of its extreme reliability and redundancy, and the multi-availability zones of Google Cloud Platform.”

Dan Khasis, Co-founder and CEO, Route4Me

Road map for the future

In the coming year, Route4Me plans to offer additional add-ons as part of its self-service marketplace, providing customers with transparent pricing on highly complex route optimizations. The service will be extremely valuable to heavy users. For instance, if an organization has to visit 50,000 locations by a certain time, it might wonder if it needs to add 20 people to make that happen and how much it’s going to cost. “Because we’re on GCP, our customer can run a variety of complicated routing scenarios to see which one is the most efficient in seconds instead of minutes,” says Khasis. “As far as I know, none of our competitors can offer that kind of service, giving us an edge as well as a new revenue stream.”

Going forward, Route4Me will begin migrating a huge portion of its core routing optimization platform to Google Google Cloud Spanner. “We want to take further advantage of Cloud Spanner, which comes closest to the CAP theorem and permits us to operate an infinitely scalable and nearly indestructible platform,” Khasis says.

As one example, Route4Me receives telematics data, such as GPS coordinates, from Internet of Things (IoT) devices in smartphones and vehicles, and performs complex algorithmic analysis running on Cloud Spanner. This provides real-time return on investment (ROI) information, so customers can see how much money they’re saving by using Route4Me routing optimization services.

“In order to help as many logistics-intensive businesses as possible, we intend to migrate our proprietary mapping, routing, and route optimization services to Cloud Spanner to take advantage of its extreme reliability and redundancy, and the multi-availability zones of Google Cloud Platform,” says Khasis.

Route4Me also plans to leverage Google machine learning technology, in part to make its routing solution available for use in autonomous and drone vehicles, as well as decentralized edge computing deployments. In addition, Google security and encryption technology will help the company expand its offerings to the heavily regulated medical industry.

Over 60 Route4Me team members use G Suite for almost everything. ”We’re interested in using everything possible with G Suite. We get inspiration from G Suite, too. A lot of thinking and effort went into improving G Suite, and we use that as inspiration to improve own products.”

About Route4Me

Founded in 2009, Route4Me™ provides route planning optimization software that helps business users efficiently plan and optimize multiple-stop driving routes. Route4Me is among the top 5 highest-grossing navigation apps worldwide.

Industries: Technology
Location: United States
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