Smyte was founded in 2015 by Pete Hunt, Josh Yudaken, and Julian Tempelsman, who started as product engineers at Facebook, Instagram and Google.
The co-founders began building Smyte from day-one on Google Cloud Platform (GCP), later evaluating the other major cloud IaaS providers so they could decide which would be the optimal long-term cloud solution for the business.
The founders knew they needed to pick a platform that could adeptly handle the technical challenges of Smyte’s big data service. Smyte analyzes hundreds of millions of users and tens of thousands of events per second. The software must crunch all of this data and return results in a few hundred milliseconds. “With this kind of low latency online learning, you really can’t use a database off the shelf, so we had to build our own,” Hunt explained. Yet using a major third-party cloud provider that could support the high performance and cost economics the company needed also had its drawbacks: “We knew that we were going to grow quickly and we knew we could never be a big fish in a big pond like Google,” Hunt said.
Ultimately, the founders decided to stick with GCP for hosting its infrastructure, primarily because of Google’s expertise in Kubernetes, the open source container management platform, which Google developed and that Smyte relies upon for cost-effectively scaling its service. “GCP is the best place to host Kubernetes,” Hunt said. “We also liked that Google’s APIs are really clean and easy to use. And Google’s BigQuery is a great analytics product, because it’s really cost-effective and fast.”
In 2016, they engaged with SADA Systems, a Google Cloud Premier Partner and an initial launch partner in 2007 for Google Apps, now G Suite. Smyte’s work with SADA Systems goes far beyond purchasing GCP services. The two companies are working together on a number of initiatives to support Smyte’s fast growth trajectory and to improve its visibility within Google.
Working with SADA Systems
SADA Systems has been instrumental in supporting Smyte’s Kubernetes-based infrastructure. The consulting firm has made introductions for Hunt and his team to key Kubernetes engineers within Google. “That’s helped us a number of times with troubleshooting issues,” Hunt said. “Having access to the people who wrote the software is incredibly valuable.”
SADA also helped Smyte migrate to Google Container Engine (GKE), Google’s hosted container service. The migration was a critical endeavor for Smyte’s business. The company had been managing Kubernetes on its own for nearly two years, but wanted to offload that work to save time and eliminate middle-of-the-night calls for its engineers. SADA helped with the planning and technical aspects of the migration, such as architecting the transition, keeping an eye out for potential caveats, and providing overall management and support of the migration. SADA serves as an on-call resource, when anything goes awry with Google. “If we have a critical issue with GCP, they will escalate it for us,” Hunt said.
SADA has also become an active business development resource for the company, facilitating introductions to potential customers and helping arrange speaking opportunities for Smyte at Google and other events. “We anticipated getting excellent technical advice from SADA, but we didn’t anticipate the business development help, and that’s been tremendous,” Hunt said.
Smyte will save 10% on infrastructure costs with GCP and GKE, Hunt predicts. Perhaps more importantly, though, is the fact that GKE allows its small team of engineers to move away from the stressful job of troubleshooting Kubernetes issues. “That’s been a massive win for us, as our call rotation is so much quieter now since we moved to GKE,” Hunt said.
Finally, Smyte is poised to grow faster, thanks to working with Google and SADA Systems. “Our company would not have been possible a few years ago, because of how technology has advanced and the possibilities with cloud computing,” Hunt observed. “I can now build a bigger company and support more customers with less cash.”
For any technology startup, it’s hard to top that.