Sentinelo: discover how far your startup can go with So you Start servers.
Created in 2010 by five associates, including the former marketing director of Apple France, Sentinelo is a service dedicated to generating sales traffic via smartphones. The user describes the service they're looking for and the Sentinelo app locates the nearest shop selling the product at the best price. This innovative service has 3.4 million users to date, enticed by the good deals on offer. Technical director of the nine-person startup Christophe Agnola has chosen So you Start to build their infrastructure. He explains why.
Christophe Agnola, technical director at Sentinelo
How does your service work?
85% of buyers that search for product information online purchase from one physical point of sale (source: Google IFOP 2013). Our solution enables these consumers to find out the live availability of products in local businesses. To dematerialize the stocks of physical stores, we have developed a technology called Smart Data Injection. Six to seven man years were needed to perfect this system, which can retrieve and process data from 50 Sentinelo customer brands. (E. Leclerc, Promod, Castorama, Berenice, Renault, American Vintage, etc.)
This data (stock, visuals, prices, etc.) reaches us in different forms; information flows from retail systems, and even raw data exported in .csv files containing tens of thousands of lines. The challenge is digesting this data, in order to serve the users. Sentinelo references nearly 30 million services, with approximately 3 million of them being updated daily, to record prices paid at the point of sale. Our infrastructure receives between 5,000 and 60,000 requests everyday, generating millions of logs, providing information on user behavior and enabling us to optimize the customer experience.
Can you explain exactly how your infrastructure is organized?
We have a dozen So you Start servers organized in different clusters, with each having a specific function (appliance cluster). The first cluster is dedicated to load balancing. The machines spread the load across different application servers and balance requests from different databases. The databases are made up of two clusters of four servers each, with one cluster responding to queries from our application (RESTful API), while the second handles requests from Sentinelo partner applications: SFR GPS, Orange Maps, Le Parisien and even Urban Pulse (Veolia). Two other servers - the most powerful ones - power our Smart Data Injection technology, which absorbs and processes the data before transferring it to the databases called on directly by mobile applications. The system is completed by a dozen less powerful virtual machines, which act as front-end application servers. Lastly, the technical and functional probes monitor it all centrally.
The interest of this infrastructure where each task is distributed between several servers is two-fold. On the one hand, it ensures high availability; in the event of a software or hardware issue on a machine, the other members of the cluster take over transparently. On the other hand, we can adjust the number and power of the servers within each cluster to adapt to demand, without having to interrupt the service or migrate it. What's more, dividing the infrastructure over multiple machines enables bandwidth of 200 Mbps per So you Start machine.
Why do you choose So you Start servers?
The Sentinelo project was born within the OVH Universe. It was developed on Kimsufi servers, some of which we have retained for testing purposes. Our growing requirements led us to So you Start, which offers powerful machines at attractive prices, which is really important for startups. The relation of So you Start to OVH reassures us of the durability of our infrastructure.
From the many servers of the So you Start range, we were able to find those most suited to our usage. For example, with the databases, sufficient power is needed, but many of the additional services provided elsewhere are not. The high fault tolerance of our infrastructure also makes the So you Start GIT (1 hour) and GRT (2 hours) perfectly acceptable. I have to say that reliability really is key. In four years with OVH, I've only had to call the support once. Last of all, the speedy delivery of servers is a winner!
Something we also appreciate with OVH group servers is the ability to manage them as though they were just next door. The natural development of our business, with ever-increasing users and partner brands, will probably lead us to OVH Dedicated Cloud solutions, or even dedicated servers interconnected with a vRack. This investment will also mean simplified management of our infrastructure, as it will largely be delegated to OVH.