ZoomInfo: Delivering continuously updated contact data at scale

About Zoom Information, Inc. (ZoomInfo)

Zoom Information, Inc. (ZoomInfo) offers an extensive database of information about business people and companies via its Growth Acceleration Platform. Sales, marketing, recruiting, and other professionals use the product to build targeted contact lists based on continuously verified data. Headquartered in Waltham, Massachusetts, ZoomInfo is an Inc. 5000 company.

Industries: Technology
Location: United States

ZoomInfo gives its developers more flexibility to build new features that add value to customers by moving from an on-premises infrastructure to Google Cloud Platform.

Google Cloud Results

  • Updates terabytes of contact data continuously
  • Scales infrastructure to affordably match rapid company growth
  • Enables developers to deliver new capabilities for users and new value for the company, versus management and administration
  • Decreases downtime due to high availability

Improves uptime to deliver best customer experience

Blindly reaching out to prospects is an inefficient way to do business. Email and messages, especially when they're not personalized to the recipient, can be easily ignored. And cold calling is known to be ineffective, as only one percent of such calls lead to a meeting with a prospect, according to a Baylor University study.

A more effective approach is to know exactly who, at any given company, is most likely to be receptive to hearing from you and is empowered to make decisions. But the success of this approach depends upon data integrity — such as current job titles, contact details, accurately spelled names, and more. There's much at stake if you lack reliable data. IBM estimates annual losses of $3.1 trillion in the United States due to the use of outdated or otherwise poor-quality data.

With its Growth Acceleration Platform, Zoom Information, Inc., (ZoomInfo) strives to solve the bad data problem for customers. The SaaS platform delivers detailed, continuously updated contact information for people and companies around the world, including 13 million C-level executives, 16 million companies, and direct-dial phone numbers for 22 million decision makers. For example, the platform makes it possible to search for the VPs of marketing at all the companies with warehouses in the Boston area, then access current contact information for each executive.

To obtain and update the many terabytes of data at the heart of the Growth Acceleration Platform, ZoomInfo web crawlers constantly scan the internet, indexing information from SEC filings, company contact web pages, and a multitude of other sources. The company's user community also supplies some of the platform's data, which is verified.

"Google Cloud Platform gives us the flexibility to easily scale our infrastructure as our company grows, without the expense of expanding a data center. With Google Cloud Platform, we can build out new servers on the fly to deal with load increases, an option we didn't have before."

John Robinson, Director for Cloud Architectures, ZoomInfo

In the past, ZoomInfo relied upon an 80-node, on-premises data center to run its web crawling infrastructure on an Apache Hadoop cluster, as well as to support other applications and services such as its Apache Solr search environment. Over time, as virtualization environments became more widely used, ZoomInfo began running its Hadoop cluster on top of a virtualized infrastructure within its data center.

But the complexity and costs of managing this infrastructure grew as ZoomInfo grew. Profits have risen about 50 percent annually for the past few years. In turn, the company's engineering department has nearly doubled in size and will likely double again within two years.

The solution: lift and shift to GCP

ZoomInfo decided the solution was a full lift-and-shift migration to Google Cloud Platform (GCP). With the migration completed earlier this year, the company is heavily leveraging Cloud Dataproc to run its web crawling infrastructure; Compute Engine as its Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) foundation; App Engine, to support the services ZoomInfo offers to customers over the public internet; and BigQuery, to handle Extract, Transform, Load (ETL) database warehousing functions, among other GCP services.

"Google Cloud Platform gives us the flexibility to easily scale our infrastructure as our company grows, without the expense of expanding a data center," says John Robinson, Director of Cloud Architectures for ZoomInfo. "With Google Cloud Platform, we can build out new servers on the fly to deal with load increases, an option we didn't have before. GCP pricing is extremely competitive, too. We pay only for what we use, when we use it."

Saving by not stovepiping

The need to efficiently, cost-effectively scale its Apache Solr search environment was the trigger that put ZoomInfo on its GCP migration path.

"We have several different apps that rely on Solr, and we must make sure they don't interfere with each other," says John. "To do that on physical servers, you'd have to stovepipe those apps, which requires managing more clusters and servers. With GCP, we can consolidate those apps in the cloud. It makes management so much easier. If there's a conflict between Solr apps, for instance, we can quickly spin up another cluster in GCP to handle the load. Once we've resolved the conflict, we can spin the cluster down. GCP saves us money in this sense, because we don't need to maintain all those physical servers."

A familiar environment

ZoomInfo's migration to GCP went smoothly, in part because of the ease in moving server instances to Compute Engine.

"Google sales team members help us understand how we can save money. They drive us to invest in what will put money in our pocket. I've never encountered a company like that."

John Robinson, Director for Cloud Architectures, ZoomInfo

"Compute Engine provides an environment that's familiar to engineers, even if they aren't cloud native," John says. "That certainly helped with the transition." ZoomInfo began the migration slowly at first, he adds. "We transitioned a few like-for-like instances from our infrastructure to Compute Engine, to see how it went. Once we realized how well everything moved over, we were ready to move forward."

ZoomInfo is continuing to refine its GCP infrastructure. For example, the company is moving all public facing, web-based apps and services to App Engine. "As a fully managed platform, Google App Engine enables our developers to focus on delivering new capabilities for users and new value for the company, rather than management and administration," John says.

"App Engine delivers high performance to our customer through its autoscaling and load balancing capabilities. Gone are the days where we had to track load and respond by creating and maintaining — and paying for — a number of instances that reflected the high watermark of our anticipated load. That often leads to poor performance for customers, meaning higher costs and management overhead for us. Going serverless with App Engine means we always have exactly what we need, aren't paying extra, and don't have to think about server management at all."

Enabling engineers to be agile

GCP also gives ZoomInfo engineers greater flexibility to address customer needs, bug fixes, and technical details to help ensure the best possible user experience. "With GCP, our engineers can be very agile," John says. "We can serve customers' needs — and address urgent issues — much faster, because all of our customer-facing technology can autoscale on GCP. So, if there's a sudden load increase, our customers won't notice it, like they might have before. GCP makes everything easier to set up and it gives us high availability, and as a result, we've seen a decline in downtime."

John adds: "With GCP, we can now compose new development environments quickly, enabling more developers to have their own space in which to work. And in the future, we'll be composing automatically as part of the build and test process, so everyone will effectively have their own staging."

GCP provides granular system logs and controls that help provide a highly secure environment. The ZoomInfo team can look at everything that happened in GCP in its logs and can control everybody's access to everything, and every system's access to every other system. In addition, GCP enables the team to isolate and contain each compute unit within individual GCP projects, each with their own collaborators and user permissions to further enhance security.

"Moving to Google Cloud Platform managed services helps us grow the company. And there are many Google Cloud Platform services we want to use in the future. Plus, Google emphasizes portability, building on open source platforms. They're dedicated to competing on merit, rather than by locking customers to their products. So, vendor lock in isn't something we worry about."

John Robinson, Director for Cloud Architectures, ZoomInfo

Reliable, valuable collaboration

Google has proven to be a reliable, valuable provider of services to ZoomInfo, in terms of support as well as in money-saving strategies.

"When we had a data center and there was an issue, we could call someone at the center and ask for help," John says. "We worried we'd lose that support with a managed cloud service provider, but Google is highly responsive and easy to work with."

Google sales team members have exceeded expectations, John adds. "Google sales team members help us understand how we can save money. They drive us to invest in what will put money in our pocket. I've never encountered a company like that."

GCP sales team members also connected ZoomInfo engineers with developers of Stackdriver, GCP monitoring, logging, and diagnostics service. "Stackdriver developers enabled a feature for us that they weren't planning to release for several months, and it was a huge help," John says.

Not concerned about "lock in"

"I've always felt you shouldn't get locked into any one vendor. But Google Cloud Platform pricing is excellent. Support from Google is great. Moving to Google Cloud Platform managed services helps us grow the company. And there are many Google Cloud Platform services we want to use in the future. Plus, Google emphasizes portability, building on open source platforms. They're dedicated to competing on merit, rather than by locking customers to their products. So, vendor lock in isn't something we worry about."

About Zoom Information, Inc. (ZoomInfo)

Zoom Information, Inc. (ZoomInfo) offers an extensive database of information about business people and companies via its Growth Acceleration Platform. Sales, marketing, recruiting, and other professionals use the product to build targeted contact lists based on continuously verified data. Headquartered in Waltham, Massachusetts, ZoomInfo is an Inc. 5000 company.

Industries: Technology
Location: United States