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Case Study

Backed by mLab, Zlapps' Popular Bot Helps 100K Enterprise Teams Better Manage Tasks

From its beginning as a developer's side project and throughout its growth into a business now serving 100,000 enterprise teams, Zlapps has relied on mLab's managed MongoDB Database-as-a-Service and stellar support every step of the way.

Highlights
  • Facing rapid growth while transitioning from a small project into a viral application, mLab has met Zlapps' ongoing needs for seamless database scalability.
  • As a startup with limited resources, Zlapps relies on mLab to handle all database needs so it can fully focus on the To-Do bot's development.
  • mLab's expert support and proactive optimization of database operations gives Zlapps total confidence that its data is always in capable hands.
Customer Profile

Zlapps is the creator of the To-Do bot, a web app enabling enterprise teams to create and manage work tasks from within the chat platforms they already use - including Slack, Cisco Spark, and HipChat.

The Challenge

Originating as a side project with a prototype using a Parse backend, building the To-Do bot necessitated a reliable MongoDB DBaaS provider that would allow for an acute focus on product development. Also, as the bot's popularity grew, Zlapps needed a database service able to scale as the project demanded.

Enterprise workforce conversations on chat platforms such as Slack are often about task assignment. However, in order to capture these tasks, workers would normally need to momentarily set aside the conversation and switch over to a task manager program, such as Jira or Asana (or a nearby sticky note), in order to create a to-do item. Zlapps' bot was born out of this realization - and a desire for the capability to record ad hoc tasks that come up during chat conversations without interrupting them.

The first prototype version of the To-Do bot was built as a process embedded within Slack, giving workers the ability to create and save tasks to a list within each Slack channel. This simple tool resonated with users so much that within the first few months, 10,000 enterprise teams on Slack were using it. As those numbers continued to grow - and as enthusiastic workgroups offered feedback on expanded functionality they would like to see - Zlapps realized the potential of pursuing the task management bot as a full-fledged product.

The prototype had been written with the Parse backend service. However, not long after the bot's initial launch it was announced that the Parse developer platform would be shut down. Parse applications require a MongoDB database, which the platform service would no longer provide. Because of this, Zlapps needed a MongoDB Database-as-a-Service provider to step in - one that could spare the small company from otherwise crippling DevOps and scalability issues.

Solution

Zlapps selected mLab as its DBaaS solution provider - and immediately found it to be an ideal partner every step of the way as the business scaled.

Zlapps compared and vetted a number of hosted MongoDB providers, including mLab and MongoDB Atlas. However, Zlapps was won over by mLab's documentation, which clearly communicated important engineering and billing information without needing to sift through marketing language to find it. mLab's ease of implementation - allowing Zlapps' MongoDB databases to get up and running very simply and quickly - also was an important factor in reducing the friction associated with switching database solutions.

Zlapps began by utilizing mLab's free Sandbox plan before upgrading to a paid Shared Cluster plan. As the bot rapidly gained thousands of more enterprise users, it needed to upgrade once again, this time to a Dedicated Cluster plan. Throughout each of these growth stages, mLab has provided exactly what Zlapps was looking for in a DBaaS, handling database DevOps on the company's behalf so expertly and thoroughly that no attention from Zlapps internal staff is required. A case in point: During the upgrade to mLab's Dedicated Cluster plan, it was necessary to migrate millions of database records critical to Zlapps' business - an event that did, naturally, cause the company some concern. However, Zlapps found mLab's handling of the migration to be exceptionally smooth and issue-free, with no data lost and no interruptions to uptime.

Zlapps has taken additional comfort from the fact that mLab's support is highly responsive, with experts always available to offer advice on queries, indexing or other optimization strategies. Zlapps finds real value in these recommendations, as well as in the peace of mind knowing that its database operations are being actively managed by experts.

mLab has been a perfect partner throughout our bot's development and growth, managing our database so capably that we really don't even have to think about it at all. The support is so responsive and knowledgeable that I always come away feeling confident and comfortable. I've become a very loyal customer because our experience has always been amazing.

Guillermo Gette Founder and CEO, Zlapps

Benefits

Relying on mLab's service and support, Zlapps's bot has seamlessly adapted to a growing user base, all while allowing the company to focus internal resources on product and business development.

More than 100,000 workgroups around the world - including those at IBM, VMware, Accenture, and numerous other enterprises - take advantage of the To-Do bot to get tasks done more efficiently. The application has grown to become the most popular bot on Slack, and now features additional integrations with Cisco Spark, HipChat, and Skype.

With mLab's service and support ensuring fully reliable database operations, the To-Do bot has been able to scale seamlessly throughout its rapid growth, with 99.99% uptime and few growing pains to speak of. At the same time, Zlapps has been able to avoid any need to assign internal resources toward DevOps for the project, knowing that mLab has it covered. As the bot's user base continues to expand, Zlapps plans to continue making the most of mLab's highly capable MongoDB database management and expert support well into the future.

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