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Case Study

GetHuman Saves $30,000 Annually with mLab

GetHuman spares customers the hassle of waiting on hold when calling corporate customer service lines. Using mLab for 5+ years, GetHuman has never experienced a database infrastructure issue, and is now developing the Swish budgeting app with full confidence in its backend.

Highlights
  • Entrusting database operations to mLab saves GetHuman time and money — an estimated $30,000 in annual savings versus self-management.
  • mLab provides the database performance and consistency required to support GetHuman's SEO-driven business.
  • The GetHuman team launched the Swish budgeting app with confidence that mLab would deliver a reliable and scalable managed MongoDB database.
Customer Profile

GetHuman helps consumers get in contact with hundreds of major companies more quickly — slashing the time spent on hold and the need to navigate phone trees. The GetHuman team has also recently launched Swish, a budgeting app designed to make managing personal finances accurate, fast, and simple.

The Challenge

Pursuing a managed services strategy, GetHuman needed a DBaaS that could deliver reliability and scale without sacrificing performance.

GetHuman's team of technology industry veterans has plenty of war stories about the 24/7 vigilance required to internally manage IT infrastructure. They also have the experience and perspective to understand that every minute of a small team's time is valuable to fast growth. Since launching in 2012, GetHuman has strategically partnered with managed service providers to achieve time and cost savings — and to keep a sharper internal focus on building its product.

However, GetHuman is careful to make sure that these services never come at the expense of mission-critical needs. It viewed database management — and the many performance, scaling, maintenance, and surprise issues inherent to the task — as a particular challenge. In the team's anecdotal experience, a majority of site issues are database-related. GetHuman made the early decision to rely on JavaScript for its full stack, and opted for a MongoDB database because it's interface is similar to JavaScript. The fact that hosted services were available for MongoDB was another selling point for the strategy.

GetHuman initially set up its own MongoDB instance to get off the ground. However, it experienced a significant issue during its first week in production and decided not to waste any more time managing the database internally — expediting a search for a managed provider.

Solution

GetHuman turned to mLab for dependability, performance, and responsive support.

GetHuman first discovered mLab through its partnership with Heroku and was impressed by how well the DBaaS matched its selection criteria around high availability, seamless upgrades, maintenance updates, and automatic backups. The startup also takes advantage of mLab's database monitoring and debugging tools such as the Slow Query Analyzer, which analyzes slow operations and suggests indexes.

mLab support has also been invaluable, with GetHuman reporting rapid, informative help whenever needed. In one example, GetHuman inadvertently deleted a significant volume of data. The team was naturally in a state of panic and contacted mLab support to go over options. mLab quickly responded and walked GetHuman through available strategies to resolve the situation together. GetHuman was then able to restore most of the previous night's data using their free daily backup.

Building a business with a small team… we just don't have time to burn. Obviously, mLab saves us the time it would take to maintain our backend. But what many companies probably don't calculate enough is the stressful and all-consuming episodes that happen when issues occur — and they will. It's not just saving time on typical maintenance or upgrades and normal activities, but also peace of mind knowing that with mLab, we've literally never had a severe issue, ever, in five years. That's amazing.

Jeff Whelpley CTO, GetHuman

Benefits

mLab delivers considerable cost and time savings for GetHuman. It also provides the trusted hosted database foundation behind the new Swish financial budgeting solution.

As GetHuman expanded its mLab-supported business for expediting customer service interactions, it developed deep cataloging capabilities of the products and offers coming from financial sector organizations. Seeing a potential to use this insight to help people — and confident in its ability to take on new backend challenges with mLab as a partner — GetHuman launched the Swish spending tracker app to help individuals get better, faster insight into their spending habits. The Swish app, focused on personal finance and budgeting, is positioned as an especially direct and easy-to-use budging solution.

Across GetHuman and Swish, the company estimates that mLab saves the team 50 hours of work on an annual basis. For the small team of senior engineers, this translates to $10,000 in annual cost savings from labor alone. But factoring GetHuman's estimate that mLab prevents two severe site outages each month (at a minimum) versus the self-management alternative, the company sees mLab as delivering an additional $20,000 in annual savings.

The team plans to extend the capabilities of Swish by adding tools for lowering users' bills, getting refunds on non-refundable tickets, and other unique features. As the application's user base for basic budgeting increases, more of the backend used for GetHuman will be integrated as part of Swish, with mLab supporting the database operations into the future.