Case Study

ideel Gains Visibility Into Critical Business Metrics and Site Performance

Executive Summary

ideel provides its members with instant access to the best brands, designers and trends at up to 70 percent off retail. The flash-sale site, launched in 2007, depends on high performance web applications to handle thousands of page requests and add-to-cart commands per second during frenzied shopping peaks. Splunk is helping ideel provide its members with the quintessential shopping experience by turning machine data into operational and business insight. Since deploying Splunk Enterprise, the company has seen benefits including:

  • Increased productivity, site optimization and user satisfaction
  • Time/cost savings over manual processes
  • Increase in operational efficiency
SPLUNK PRODUCTS
Challenges
    • Limited view across infrastructure/application stack
    • Reliance on manual tools and processes
    • Lack of integrated view into machine data
    • Difficulty pinpointing issues across multiple servers
Business Impact
    • Increased productivity and site stability
    • Site optimization and increased user satisfaction
    • Visibility into critical business metrics
    • Time/cost savings over manual processes
    • Increase in operational efficiency
    • Reduced time for troubleshooting/performance tuning
Data Sources
    • Application, web server and Windows logs 
    • Multi-line Ruby on Rails logs 
    • HAProxy load balancer logs 
    • MySQL query logs 

Why Splunk

With millions of members around the world and more than 1,000 brand partners, ideel has pioneered a new way to shop. The ideel web store receives millions of visits per week, a number which increases during special sales and holidays. At ten each morning, ideel opens its virtual doors and the shopping frenzy begins. Site volume jumps approximately 40 times off-peak when sales are under way. At the same time, the site experiences more than 3,000 page requests and over 700 add-to-cart requests per second during peaks.

Before Splunk, ideel had a limited view across its application stack. When it came to identifying and resolving issues, the firm resorted to manual tools and processes, lacking an integrated view into machine data. “We started with the Splunk free trial and that was enough to allow us to look through our Ruby on Rails logs,” says the lead systems engineer. “We then worked with Splunk technical support to tailor the system to monitor and analyze our unique environment.” 

End-to-end visibility for improved customer experience

With Splunk Enterprise, all of ideel’s infrastructure data is indexed, time stamped and accessible from a central, access-controlled system. The ability to search, analyze and report on all data from a single location has increased productivity and decreased resolution times. Commonly used searches, used to identify issues, patterns and known bottlenecks now reside in one place, and can be reused across the organization. 

Before Splunk, ideel had limited visibility into the critical log data generated by its site. Since deploying Splunk Enterprise, the company has gained new visibility into and across all its systems, including load balancers, web and application tiers, and databases. ideel now has access to real-time metrics holding insights into site queuing, connection times, number of connections and top URLs—the fine-grained information needed to keep the site performing at optimal levels. This has allowed ideel to fine-tune its environment to deliver the best possible customer experience.

“Splunk enables us to connect our technical and business metrics and see the correlations between site performance and the customer experience. The real-time dashboards we’ve built with Splunk provide information that can’t be obtained any other way.” 



Lead Systems Engineer, 
ideel 


Insight into critical business metrics and services 


The ideel applications support team uses Splunk software to keep track of key business processes, including a critical process that sends shipment requests to the ideel warehouse. Should this particular process fail, customers won’t receive their purchases, directly affecting customer satisfaction and ideel’s bottom line.

Ideel also uses the Splunk platform to track MySQL database performance throughout the busy sales day and create performance graphs to help determine when code releases or other changes may have impacted business critical databases. Monitoring these databases using Splunk helps the operations team protect company revenue. 

Delivers value in a flash

As an innovator in flash-sale retail, ideel needs to accommodate dramatic shifts in site traffic. Splunk delivers end-to-end visibility into ideel’s critical online and mobile applications, reduces risk, protects revenue streams, and provides real-time site monitoring and capacity planning.  

Using Splunk Enterprise, ideel monitors site performance data in real time to help manage its unusual and demanding load patterns. Splunk has enabled the team to dive straight into the source of common problems by looking at the context of errors rather than manually digging through multi-gigabyte log files. Ideel also generates alerts in Splunk that proactively open a tracking ticket for the team to review. According to ideel, “We have days that we know are going to be bigger than others—the information Splunk provides helps us decide how much capacity we’re going to need.”

“Instead of spending days writing scripts, we can create a new Splunk search in less than an hour. The real-time load balancer dashboard was one of the first things we ever built using Splunk and it’s still one of the most useful. We can see the impact of configuration changes in real time and make corrections if needed.  Splunk helps us keep a close eye on leading indicators of site performance.”



Lead Systems Engineer, 
ideel