Case Studies

Pythian Helps Grasshopper Scale without Compromising Customer Satisfaction

Company: Grasshopper – Needham, Massachusetts, USA
Market: Retail

Fast growth was putting a strain on Grasshopper’s database infrastructure, causing performance bottlenecks in their customer reporting application that resulted in delays up to 40 minutes. Grasshopper looked to Pythian for a solution.

  • 9 second customer report execution times, reduced from 40 minutes to 9 seconds
  • 90% cost reduction compared to the original project cost estimate
  • Long term savings in ongoing software maintenance costs

Since 2003, Grasshopper has been offering entrepreneurs and small businesses across North America access to an affordable, cloud-based, virtual phone system that helps them sound more professional and stay connected from anywhere. Siamak Taghaddos and David Hauser, who originally launched the company as GotVMail, bootstrapped their way to profitability quickly and now drive $10 million in annual revenue. Keeping up with that kind of growth meant being able to scale their underlying service delivery platform at the lowest possible cost, without compromising customer satisfaction.

Situation
Grasshopper’s successful growth and customer acquisition were putting a strain on their database infrastructure. Customer reports were taking too long to return—sometimes resulting in delays of up to 40 minutes—and overall service was slow as the system began to experience performance bottlenecks during peak use.

Solution
Pythian was asked to audit the existing reporting application and make recommendations on how to resolve the underlying performance bottlenecks. During the audit, Pythian quickly identified the application responsible for the performance concerns.

The next step was to review the software causing the performance issues and evaluate the data structures underlying the application. They determined that the optimal and most cost-effective way forward was to rebuild the application logic that generates the reports. Rather than executing application code, the reports were rewritten using SQL and the underlying data structures were optimized for fast query results.

Result
Pythian’s recommendations and actions netted demonstrable improvements in reporting speed, exceeding Grasshopper’s performance expectations and costing only 10% of what was initially proposed. In some cases, reports that used to take over 40 minutes to execute were now returning in less than 9 seconds. As an additional benefit, the rewritten reporting application required little to no maintenance, saving Grasshopper the ongoing software maintenance costs the original vendor was charging.

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