On Facet Digital. Q&A with Scott W. Bradley and Jeremy Groh

Scott W. Bradley, Principal Engineer, Facet Digital

Jeremy Groh, Principal Engineer,Facet Digital

Q1. What is the business of Facet DIGITAL?

Facet Digital is a full-service product strategy, design, and development agency that delivers business-critical web, mobile, and desktop database applications that run at the edge. Facet’s clients are focused on time to market, cost, performance, and security. 

Q2. Why did you want to consolidate your infrastructure from three different products into one platform? 

We needed to markedly improve productivity surrounding setting up and optimizing a new cluster. With Couchbase Cloud, we have consolidated our infrastructure from three different products into one simplified platform. That also represents a significant reduction in the cognitive load on developers.

Q3. Please explain the challenge(s) your organization faced before introducing Couchbase? 

Before Couchbase Cloud, our customer environments had become increasingly difficult to manage while delivering with the agility needed to meet customers’ requirements. Like many organizations, our clients are concerned about cost, performance, and security. Couchbase Cloud was the only DBaaS that covered all three of these concerns out of the box. As an organization we faced challenges justifying the labor costs involved in meeting their demands for high performance at low cost on their database platform du jour. Provisioning, securing, and optimizing infrastructure and code could make up a significant portion of the up-front development costs in getting a new project off the ground, and that’s a tough pill to swallow for a non-technical customer that has a hard time seeing the fruits of that labor.

Q4. Did Couchbase help you solve those challenges? If yes how?

Yes. First, as mentioned, our clients are very concerned about cost, performance, and security. Couchbase was the only DBaaS that checked all three of those boxes.

Also, It used to take us 3½ days to get our legacy hosted solution set up, but now we can spin up a new cluster in 30 minutes or less. That’s a 4,000% improvement in setup time. And because Couchbase Cloud gives us a great developer experience out of the box, with tools such as N1QL and FTS, the time to build new products and features around the data is greatly reduced compared to other NoSQL DBaaS platforms we’ve used. In one example, we were able to build out all new real-time data visualization features on a tight timeline that would have taken ten times as long on top of a lesser-featured document store.

Data Sovereignty and Residency are also challenges for us, as our company is rolling out solutions globally. It’s critical for us to ensure the data platform meets the security and regulatory requirements of any territory; most notably the GDPR in Europe. Couchbase Cloud provides a managed service inside your own AWS account that addresses the need to have complete control over sensitive data in highly regulated industries such as health care and financial services. Couchbase’s XDCR features are a big win when it comes to synchronizing data across geographic regions through compliance-driven filters.

Q5. How are you using Couchbase Cloud and how is it different from what you did with CosmosDB?

We are using Couchbase Cloud, a fully managed DBaaS, to streamline our infrastructure by consolidating three different products into one simplified platform. As a result, we were able to improve overall productivity and optimization as well as ensure our environment meets security and legislative requirements. Previously, using CosmosDB we had to use separate products and techniques for ad-hoc querying, search indexing, analytics, and in-memory caching. The number of integration points to develop and maintain made it more difficult to roll out new features with agility and adapt to changing customer and market demands.

Couchbase Cloud empowers us to control our own data, clusters, clouds, and costs. There is no equal to Couchbase Cloud. It has the best pricing, performance, and feature set we have seen from a DBaaS offering. 

Q6. What are the key features from Couchbase Cloud you are using to solve these challenges? 

Couchbase Cloud’s built-in Elasticsearch connectors was a key deciding factor for us. In one example, it helped reduce a client’s data migration time from one hour to three minutes, with minimal custom development or added messaging infrastructure. The Full Text Search feature, including faceted search functionality, saved us an immeasurable amount of development time in delivering some important new customer features on an extremely short timeline. XDCR – Cross Data Center Replication – gives us the ability to future-proof our database network topology. The Couchbase Cloud control plane represents significant saving of DevOps time and delivers an immediate cost-benefit that can be passed on to Facet Digital’s customers.

Q7. What is the ROI you have experienced from using Couchbase Cloud? 

The use of Couchbase Cloud has produced a massive ROI for us. The reduced setup time means we can quickly deliver same-day results for our client when they close a new customer and need to provision them quickly. From our client’s perspective, that takes 3-4 days of one-off onboarding expense that they’d otherwise have to eat – that’s a roughly 80% reduction in the cost to onboard a new customer.  For a key client in the pharmaceutical industry, the investment in switching to Couchbase Cloud has paid off immeasurably, when you consider the value of contracts that would have otherwise been lost due to the prohibitive cost of overcoming cloud vendor lock-in and building a data persistence layer inside the customer’s own cloud account for compliance reasons.

Q8. Can you share some details about how Couchbase helped your company improve deployment time and developer productivity?

In one example, we have a client with strict data isolation requirements for compliance reasons. It used to take several days to provision a new customer’s database, and that carried some security and configuration risk of human error when doing manual configuration. Couchbase Cloud automates this for us. Now it takes about 30 minutes and we have confidence that security and best practices are covered for us in a repeatable way.

In another example, we have bursty, high-throughput, on-demand reporting processes running in the background, writing to the database that is also servicing user requests. Using a shared DBaaS platform like CosmosDB made it much more difficult to gracefully handle these spikes. It required both overprovisioning resources at great financial cost and developing and maintaining custom throttling code at great developer cost. With Couchbase Cloud, this report generation is 100 times faster and we’ve been able to remove complex throttling code, let our services push data into the database as fast as they can write it, all while cutting our total cost of ownership in half. More importantly, with tools like Full Text Search, Views, and Analytics, our developers are able to deliver new report features for the customer in less than half the time.

Q9. How else has Couchbase Cloud helped you to improve your business?

The improved productivity ultimately enabled us to pass the savings on to customers so they can allocate more resources toward the core value of their product development initiatives. It also helps our business by improving the perceived total value of our output – faster to market, with less overhead.

Q10. Which feature of Couchbase Cloud has impressed you the most?

The combination of schema less JSON document storage, SQL-like querying with N1QL, Full Text Search, faceted search, and high-volume read and write throughput has really made a big difference in the products we are delivering. We’ve even had a client’s CEO reach out to us personally to tell us how amazingly fast their web app is now – thanks to our port to Couchbase Cloud. XDCR is also a game-changer for us. We can manage multiple clusters around the globe in one Couchbase Cloud dashboard, setup replication between them with ease, and apply view-based filtering to that replication to ensure GDPR compliance. That would otherwise take a ton of custom software development for us.

**Facet Digital will be presenting during Couchbase Connect.ONLINE — check out the presentation on Wednesday, October 15 at 2:00 PM***

Sponsored by Couchbase.

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