Customer Stories/Rentbrella

How Rentbrella Achieves Perfect Observability and Monitoring With AppSignal

Logo of Rentbrella
  • Stack

    Elixir, Ruby, Google Cloud, PostgreSQL, Redis, React, Phoenix, LiveView, GraphQL

  • Company

    Umbrella sharing company (B2B and B2C)

  • Team size

    5 developers

  • Requests

    3M

Before AppSignal

  • Difficulty in achieving system observability
  • Code regressions were tricky to spot
  • DataDog's interface was hard to navigate

After AppSignal

  • Easy to set up monitoring
  • Errors are spotted before they reach users
  • Clean interface with the most important features on the front page

For this story, we've interviewed Samuel Grigolato - head of technology at Rentbrella.

The Company

Rentbrella is an umbrella-sharing company. They have umbrella vending machines in multiple countries, mostly near train/metro stations. Rentbrella allows users to use one umbrella for a day for free, and if they need an umbrella for a few days, the user can rent it for a small fee. Rentbrella also allows other businesses to advertise by printing their logos on their umbrellas.

Rentbrella has in-house hardware and software teams so that everything is under their control, and both teams work in sync with each other. Once the hardware engineering team has an idea for a new feature, the software team needs to make changes to the Rentbrella app itself.

They are a cloud-native organization with a lot of microservices deployed on AWS. The core of their app is written with Ruby, so they appreciated that AppSignal provides native support for Ruby outside of Rails.

Unusual Usage Patterns

Application performance monitoring is crucial to Rentbrella, as their usage patterns vary depending on the weather. If they deploy a regression, they won't notice it until the heavens open, and customers desperately need umbrellas. This is why the Rentbrella team has to be extremely careful when deploying new code to production.

If a regression slips through production, it's going to cause a lot of damage because of our non-traditional usage pattern. This is where AppSignal comes into play. We have a very small team, and proactive monitoring is a necessity. The key aspect for me is the fact that AppSignal is going to alert me through Slack when something is going wrong.

Achieving Perfect Observability with AppSignal

The Rentbrella team is focused on achieving perfect observability and monitoring. They want to be on top of any issues before they hear any complaints from their customers.

In the beginning, when we were trying to figure out observability, AppSignal was very low cost. By “cost” I mean the “cost in the sense of setup”. We didn’t have to code a lot of stuff, or change our architecture. We simply inserted AppSignal and got our dashboards. There’s a lot of value in this approach. There was no clutter.

Other tools they were testing were more challenging to set up, and their interfaces were very cluttered. What attracted them to AppSignal was the focus and clarity they could achieve. All of the things they were concerned about were under the same roof, in a single decluttered interface that’s easy to use.

What actually made us a long-term customer is that the things we needed worked smoothly from day one and the overall stability of the product. We require all of our projects to keep up to date with dependencies. There were so many releases of AppSignal, and I don't remember any time that an AppSignal release broke something. It's very stable. And this is something that I value as well because I can't be facing problems.

Why Rentbrella Chose AppSignal over Datadog and Sentry for Monitoring

The first monitoring system Rentbrella set up was Sentry, but they moved away from it as their interface and pricing weren’t friendly. This is what triggered them to explore other APMs.

For Rentbrella, Datadog was very cluttered because they have a lot of features that aren’t neatly distributed in their interface. They felt they got more support and focus from AppSignal. It is easy for Rentbrella to understand their app’s performance as AppSignal has fewer screens. In comparison, Datadog had more features but an interface that was difficult to navigate.

AppSignal has no clutter. It has a focus on action and slow queries. Slow queries is something that is very useful, we use it a lot. This feature is on the first page. It's not hidden between a lot of features. Everything that’s on the first page I use: errors, performance, slow queries.

The cost was another driving factor. AppSignal was easier to set up and is cheaper than Datadog. Usability was the main factor in making this decision, but the Rentbrella team believes that the price of AppSignal was fair.

We use Datadog for logging, and they actually bill us a lot, so we rely on AppSignal to do everything else.

Benefits of Using AppSignal

Observability brings confidence to the information technology team at Rentbrella. They increased their trust in deployments and daily operations. Now, they know that AppSignal will quickly notify them if something happens. In addition, as all data is presented in AppSignal without any clutter, the Rentbrella team can respond quickly to solve any problems.

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