Vector Media Group: Powering Zagat’s website and delivering content faster using Google Cloud Platform

Zagat provides access to ratings and reviews for restaurants worldwide. Its reviews and articles, published on the Zagat.com website, Zagat’s mobile apps and inside Google Maps, cut through the clutter of available dining choices and guide people towards the best places, wherever they are.

Zagat’s web infrastructure had a hard time keeping up with its growth. The site experienced occasional downtime, and its editors couldn’t add new content as quickly as they wanted. Zagat was looking to rebuild its website infrastructure to improve its performance, stability and flexibility. To to do that, the company turned to Vector Media Group, a full-service interactive digital agency specializing in web development, design, branding and digital marketing. Vector Media Group chose Google Cloud Platform as the backbone for the Zagat website because it can scale on demand, is stable, and would allow Zagat to add new website content and features on the fly.

“Google Cloud Platform was the clear choice for the Zagat website. It can handle high traffic, offers great tools for powering the front end and gives us top-notch performance.”

— Matt Weinberg, Co-Founder and Partner, Technology and Development, Vector Media Group

Powering a stabler, faster website

To help improve website performance, Vector Media Group uses Google App Engine to render the site from Zagat’s content management system (CMS) and to handle load balancing and scaling. Google Compute Engine helps speed up the performance of Zagat’s CMS because it scales up during periods of heavy use, so the CMS servers don’t get bogged down. Google Cloud Storage holds all Zagat data for hosting the website, including multimedia content. Google Cloud SQL hosts the database of Zagat reviews and all website content, such as lists, news, and video posts. And to help ensure that website performance is fast in any location worldwide, Zagat uses Google Cloud CDN, which leverages Google’s globally distributed edge points of presence to accelerate content delivery.

Vector Media Group performed all of the programming and development work for Zagat’s new infrastructure, and continues to manage the deployment. As a result of its work with GCP, performance has improved and downtime reduced, the Vector Media group says. During traffic spikes, for example when Zagat publishes updated lists of the best restaurants, the infrastructure automatically scales to match the increased load. Engineers no longer need to perform load balancing or manage MySQL servers, which they had to do before switching to Google Cloud SQL. They can instead focus on developing new features.

“We no longer need to manage the website’s underlying infrastructure — Google Cloud Platform handles that for us. The performance increases have been dramatic, and the Zagat site is always available when visitors need it,” says Weinberg.

Faster updates, happier users

In addition to improved stability and performance, the Zagat website can deliver new content far faster than before. Before moving to GCP, engineers had to spend time handling additional traffic when new features were released, so it could take weeks before features were introduced. “Updates can be released as soon as they are developed,” says Weinberg. “Editors can update the site in real time, when previously they might have had to wait to make sure the site could handle traffic increases driven by the new content.”

“Thanks to Vector Media Group and Google Cloud Platform, we can introduce new features more quickly, and our editors can update content on a daily basis. That’s important, because we are in a very fast-changing space. We now have the speed to publish relevant, up-to-date, trending content, which gives us a far better opportunity to help our users find the best places to eat.”

— Ranjith Jayaram, Product Manager, Zagat