Return to all case studies

Case Study

Dossier Uses mLab to Organize Customer Communications for 1000s of Enterprises

Requiring absolute reliability from its rapidly scaling MongoDB database, Dossier successfully turned to mLab's managed Database-as-a-Service solution.

Highlights
  • Dossier organizes customer communications data from email, websites, and internal applications and users into a single interface, improving the efficiency and effectiveness with which teams collaborate and communicate with customers.
  • Following a spectacular downtime incident early in its development (and prior to committing to a DBaaS solution), Dossier recognized its potential for rapid user growth-and the scaling and reliability challenges that come with it.
  • By adding mLab's service and expert support, Dossier now has a fully reliable database allowing the company to scale seamlessly.
Customer Profile

Dossier is an application that organizes customer communications including incoming and outgoing email, website chats, messaging, and any other interactions that enterprise teams have with customers. Dossier connects to all the popular communication applications that businesses use, from workflow products like Slack and Asana, to CRM products like Salesforce and HubSpot, to email. By organizing these communications in one place, Dossier allows teams to manage internal workflows, collaborate with one another, and more quickly respond to customers' needs.

The Challenge

Following an incident in which Dossier's systems were taken offline by a sudden influx of new users, the company recognized its critical need for greater database scalability and reliability.

Dossier's core team worked together previously at Dynatrace, a large SaaS enterprise specializing in managing information at high scale (with a database handling 1 billion new records each day). This confidence in developing highly scalable systems is woven into the fabric of Dossier, where the team took on the technical challenge of building a product that would allow enterprise teams to connect disparate customer and internal communications and manage them from a single interface - regardless of the data size involved.

Early in its development, though, Dossier suffered an incident that reinforced how hard flawless scalability can be. Dossier CEO Vik Chaudhary was in an investor's office, giving a presentation touting Dossier's incredible scalability. He noted that everyone within a large enterprise can sign up, connect their email inbox, and within less than half an hour can begin reaping the product's benefits. Just after saying this, he began receiving emergency calls. Checking in after the presentation, Chaudhary learned that something very similar to his claim had happened: a 20,000-employee Brazilian company had joined as a new customer, and its workers were inviting each other to sign up. In just 15 minutes, the enterprise had added thousands of users (along with all the connected data in their accounts), causing Dossier's systems to crash. For the following 36 hours, Dossier's team worked tirelessly to restore its systems.

The event was enlightening. As a positive takeaway, Dossier proved to be popular and able to support a massive deployment across a large, global enterprise. At the same time, the need for more scalable systems - namely a database that could remain available while handling tremendous quantities of data - was proven to be absolutely vital to Dossier's future success.

Solution

In need of a Database-as-a-Service provider with MongoDB expertise and the capability to deliver the reliability Dossier required, mLab came highly recommended - and proved worthy of its reputation.

At the time of the 36-hour downtime incident, Dossier was running a single node database cluster and managing it internally on AWS. Dossier's ten-person team had database administration experience, but was more familiar with relational databases and not as well versed in activities such as spinning up multi-node database clusters or scaling database throughput with zero downtime.

Dossier chose MongoDB as a database technology because it allowed the team to rapidly develop the product and new features without frequently changing schemas and performing table migrations. An acute focus on developing new integrations with platforms like Slack, Asana, HubSpot, and Salesforce dramatically increased the number of real-time messages that the Dossier system was synchronizing between users. This led the team to a point where database indexing wasn't receiving the attention it required, and the appropriate MongoDB expertise wasn't available internally. The downtime incident served as a wake up call that outside expertise and strong database monitoring tools had quickly become a necessity.

Dossier read reviews of MongoDB-as-a-Service providers, and asked the makers of MongoDB themselves for advice. These reviews all strongly recommended mLab as a provider with deep MongoDB expertise and excellent, attentive support.

Based on these recommendations, Dossier signed up to see what mLab had to offer. Immediately, the company had a positive feeling about the service. The simplicity of mLab's platform stood out, with features laid out simply and intuitively. At the same time, Dossier began engaging with mLab's support team, finding the provider to be extremely responsive. Based on these experiences and mLab's demonstrated expertise, Dossier made the decision to fully turn to mLab as its database provider.

After Dossier's downtime incident, we were determined to scale our customer acquisition so that we could handle tens of thousands of signups within minutes. we realized we either had to find the right experts to maintain our MongoDB uptime or we'd soon be dealing with this again. Our main reason for selecting mLab was because we wanted to be supremely confident that database reliability would never be an issue again. We considered developing the needed expertise internally, but this would have been an expensive resource shift—and would have curtailed the rapid pace with which we were able to develop integrations with other enterprise applications. Our investment in mLab delivers a return on investment within minutes of us handling traffic surges, and the service has been an incredible value to our business.

Vik Chaudhary CEO, Dossier

Benefits

mLab's service enables Dossier to serve thousands of enterprises reliably, and gives the company the support needed to achieve its goals for future growth.

With mLab managing Dossier's database, the company has grown to now serve thousands of clients of all sizes, from midsize businesses such as StreamSets up to large enterprises such as Disney. Importantly, Dossier has been able to enhance the communications capabilities of employees at all of those companies while providing issue-free experiences. At the same time, Dossier is able to maintain a focus on ongoing product development and new features, knowing that database management is in good hands with mLab.

Dossier continues to rely on mLab's responsive, expert support to address issues and urgent questions, finding the fact that mLab is readily available to provide a knowledgeable response within the hour to be a significant advantage. Dossier also makes frequent use of mLab's Telemetry tool (which offers real-time and historical monitoring to inform the fine-tuning of database performance), as well as mLab's Slow Query Analyzer (which provides analysis of recent slow operations that may be candidates for optimization).

Looking into the future, Dossier appreciates mLab's forward-thinking nature and continual efforts to make production-ready MongoDB very easy to use. Having experienced a database that grew by a billion records a day at their previous company, the Dossier team anticipates reaching that scale—and counting on mLab to help achieve it reliably.

More Case Studies
View all case studies