Case Study

Untappd scales rapidly while staying lean with ObjectRocket as an extension of their team

Untappd, a social network for beer lovers, gives millions of beer aficionados a new way to explore and share the world of beer with friends. Beer drinkers can find out what and where their friends are drinking, review the beers they’ve tried, and get beer recommendations.

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The challenge: Scaling rapidly without adding staff

At times, Untappd’s small team had difficulty scaling with the network’s enormous growth. They needed a complete solution to manage instances of MongoDB, Redis, and Elasticsearch to keep the application’s response time fast and smooth for an optimal user experience that would keep users coming back to the app over and over again. But they needed to do it without adding staff—particularly during the early years when it was just Avola and Mather putting in long nights and weekends to get the app off the ground.

By choosing ObjectRocket and its suite of managed database-as-a-service solutions, Avola (Untappd’s backend developer) was able to launch the application and build features quickly and easily all by himself for several years because he didn’t have to worry about the database piece. He could concentrate on building the application while leaving the rest to ObjectRocket’s knowledgeable experts.

Why ObjectRocket?

ObjectRocket helped Untappd increase performance by moving some processes to MongoDB, and later to Redis and Elasticsearch, and managing instances for them. ObjectRocket is able to ensure that interactions on the app remain high quality and very fast. But social feeds are notoriously difficult to scale out, which is where ObjectRocket’s expertise with all three tools came in very handy.

“We were looking at query times for our Friend Feed from anywhere between three seconds to seven seconds. Together, we were able to decrease that all the way down to less than a second. After that, we did a lot of our heavier queries on Mongo, which helped us significantly when it came to high traffic periods,” says Avola. “As our user base grew, we looked for a more cost-effective solution that would allow us to have better management over the larger data set we were putting in. So we moved over to Elasticsearch, which was about one-fourth of the cost. We were able to keep 30 days of activity now instead of 10 because we were no longer inserting thousands of documents for all of a user’s friends— with Elasticsearch, it’s just one document per check-in….so much faster and more efficient.”

What impresses Avola the most about working with ObjectRocket is that they’re like an extension of the Untappd team. “We’ve been working with ObjectRocket for years now, so there’s a lot of historical knowledge there that’s irrefutable. You can’t really get that anywhere else. So for us to be able to lean on their expertise is very beneficial.”

untappd logo

Customer’s Business:
Untappd is a social network for beer lovers to rate, review, and track their favorite beers with friends. Beer enthusiasts can find out what and where their friends are drinking, review beers, and get recommendations. Vendors add venue information and current beer menus to make it even easier to explore the world of beer.

Untappd’s small team had difficulty scaling with the application’s enormous growth. They needed a partner that offered a complete solution to manage instances of MongoDB, Redis, and Elasticsearch to keep the application’s response time fast and accurate for an optimal user experience that keeps users engaged.

ObjectRocket for MongoDB®
ObjectRocket for Redis®
ObjectRocket for Elasticsearch® with Kibana

Untappd has been able to scale rapidly and remove limits on users’ social interactions— without adding headcount—by making ObjectRocket an extension of their team.

“I love ObjectRocket so much because of the level of support they provide for us. We have a Slack channel; we can talk with them. If there’s an issue, they’re always very on top of it.”

Greg Avola, Founder and CTO, Untappd

The end result: finding more value in data


With its wildly popular consumer app now in full swing, Untappd is shifting its focus to leveraging its tremendous amount of data for the business side. Avola plans to use Elasticsearch less for search and more for data and analytics moving forward. Avola relies on ObjectRocket to manage Elasticsearch services in a flexible, customized, and cost-effective way that will allow Untappd to continue innovating and finding even more value in their data.

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