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Virtuo: Driving city dwellers toward a more sustainable future with Google Cloud

About Virtuo

Founded in 2015, Virtuo aims to provide city dwellers with a viable alternative to car ownership through a 100% digital approach to vehicle rental. Virtuo’s mobile app enables drivers to book and unlock a premium vehicle in minutes, at any time of day or night.

Industries: Transportation, Other
Location: France

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To keep developing innovative solutions for its growing user base of 150,000 active users, while optimizing efficiency and costs, car rental startup Virtuo has migrated to Google Cloud.

Google Cloud results

  • Enables efficient cost control with Google Kubernetes Engine
  • Streamlines the development and deployment of new services with a flexible, integrated platform
  • Protects users and infrastructure with Google reCAPTCHA Enterprise

Freedom and flexibility to support rapid expansion

The term “livable cities” has been around for decades, but it’s only over the past few years that the concept has really begun to enter the collective consciousness. According to the United Nations, 68% of the world population will live in urban areas in 2050, making it more important than ever to think about how we can make our cities safe, pleasant, integrated, and sustainable. Technology is playing a major role in helping us build more livable cities, by enabling solutions that help to reduce the number of cars on the road, which in turn helps to reduce urban congestion.

“Today, car ownership is neither cost-efficient nor sustainable for city dwellers,” says Olivier Martin, CTO at Virtuo, a startup that enables people to rent, unlock, and return cars through its mobile application. “Our mission is to offer an alternative by providing a car rental experience that’s adapted to the needs of today’s urban drivers.”

Virtuo launched in Paris in 2015 and has since expanded to cover 17 cities in four European countries, including London, Brussels, and Madrid. In August 2020, Virtuo decided to migrate to Google Cloud to improve its development workflow efficiency and enable the development of new services.

“It was a desire for more flexibility and freedom that made us turn to Google Cloud and Google Kubernetes Engine. We wanted to be able to pick and choose the components of our platform according to their technical and cost advantages. We needed a high level of flexibility.”

Xavier Krantz, Site Reliability Engineer, Virtuo

An alternative to car ownership through innovative mobility solutions

“Virtuo offers a streamlined, mobile-based user experience that enables people to rent a vehicle without having to wait an hour at a rental booth,” Olivier explains. With Virtuo, customers can book and unlock a premium car at any time of day or night at stations located in several European cities, effectively doing away with the waiting times and paperwork associated with traditional car rental.

“Our customers typically rent a car to go away for the weekend, booking it on Friday afternoon and bringing it back on Sunday night,” says Oliver. “Around 50% of our users book their vehicle at the last minute. If you can decide to drive from Paris to Deauville on a whim on a Friday evening, rent a vehicle and go, why go to the expense and trouble of owning a car?”

With more than one million downloads and 150,000 active users, the company is currently exploring new markets, such as B2B rentals. “Our turnover has tripled year-on-year since the company was founded,” Olivier says. “In 2019, we got to the point where we urgently needed to find solutions to manage the rapid expansion of our teams, fleet, and business.”

“In the past, we needed to constantly monitor resources to ensure they were proportional to our activity levels. With Google Kubernetes Engine, we can tell immediately if we’ve allocated more resources than needed, which makes things much easier from a financial management point of view.”

Thomas de Barochez, Technical Lead and Architect, Virtuo

Increasing flexibility and cost control with Google Kubernetes Engine

Virtuo was in need of a platform that offered a more flexible architecture, easy integration of new technologies, and adaptability to its existing tools and workflows. “It was a desire for more flexibility and freedom that made us turn to Google Cloud and Google Kubernetes Engine,” says Xavier Krantz, Site Reliability Engineer at Virtuo. “We wanted to be able to pick and choose the components of our platform according to their technical and cost advantages. We needed a high level of flexibility.”

“Google Kubernetes Engine (GKE) enables us to clearly define services and the amount of resources they consume,” adds Thomas de Barochez, Virtuo Technical Lead and Architect. Before migrating to Google Cloud, the company used a “pay per application” model, but it didn’t find this cost-efficient. With Google Cloud, costs are directly related to activity and resources, rather than architecture, which makes them easier to monitor and control. “In the past, we needed to constantly monitor resources to ensure they were proportional to our activity levels,” says Thomas. “With Google Kubernetes Engine, we can tell immediately if we’ve allocated more resources than needed, which makes things much easier from a financial management point of view.”

“Another thing we really needed was our production environment to be as similar as possible to our testing and pre-production environments, which previously used very different technologies,” Thomas continues. “With GKE, integrated environments make everything much simpler as it reduces the chance of unpleasant surprises when we deploy. That makes life easier for our developers.”

The Virtuo team appreciated the support provided by Google Cloud throughout the migration process. “We had regular check-ins with the Google Cloud team where engineers provided support for our migration, as well as useful tips and ideas,” Thomas says. “The amount of documentation available for Google Cloud is also a plus point.”

The Virtuo team is looking forward to getting to know the new platform. “It’s early days, but we’ve already noticed a big improvement in response time,” Thomas says. The next steps will involve extracting what is left on the old platform and moving it over to the new technology stack, with a focus on further optimizing both costs and performance: “As we get to know the technology better, we’ll be able to allocate resources even more precisely, reducing the number of instances and size of our clusters to gain efficiency.”

“With Google Cloud, we feel serene and supported in our future plans and confident in our ability to continue to create, deploy, and automate valuable tools for our development team, and ultimately our customers.”

Olivier Martin, CTO, Virtuo

Leveraging technology to drive new business opportunities

“We’re looking forward to taking advantage of Google Cloud services to further optimize our applications, and by extension, what we can deliver for our customers,” Olivier confirms. “We can envision integrating Google Maps Platform, for example, to help customers optimize their itineraries and, after we’ve introduced electric cars, easily find charging stations.”

Another project under deployment is Virtuo Delivered, a new service that brings vehicles directly to users and aims to relieve parking issues in congested cities. It’s currently being tested in London. “Using BigQuery and Google Maps Platform to analyze vehicle location data is something that could help us optimize car storage and delivery. There are a lot of exciting possibilities there,” Olivier shares. User security is also a major priority for Virtuo. The company is currently integrating Google Cloud security solutions such as reCAPTCHA Enterprise, which helps it protect Virtuo’s services from fraudulent users, while increasing customer trust.

Virtuo sees its migration to Google Cloud as the beginning of a journey that will see it continue to develop innovative solutions that make European cities more pleasant and sustainable. “With Google Cloud, we feel serene and supported in our future plans and confident in our ability to continue to create, deploy, and automate valuable tools for our development team, and ultimately our customers,” Olivier concludes.

Tell us your challenge. We're here to help.

Contact us

About Virtuo

Founded in 2015, Virtuo aims to provide city dwellers with a viable alternative to car ownership through a 100% digital approach to vehicle rental. Virtuo’s mobile app enables drivers to book and unlock a premium vehicle in minutes, at any time of day or night.

Industries: Transportation, Other
Location: France