Dining Choices on the Fly with Google Cloud

Satisfying Zagat Restaurant Guide’s Appetite for Rapid Growth

In 1979, Nina and Tim Zagat became pioneers of portable user-generated content. They created the restaurant survey that bears their name by asking friends to review local eateries and then printed the results in a handy pocket-sized guide. Today, Zagat continues to help people seek gastronomic adventures with ratings and reviews accessible on Zagat.com, through Zagat’s mobile apps, and inside Google Maps.

As more people started using digital editions of Zagat, the website began having stability and performance issues. The company realized it needed to update its infrastructure to efficiently deliver personalized experiences that could be viewed easily on any device.

Zagat sought expertise for updating its digital infrastructure from a full-service interactive digital agency that specializes in web development, design, branding, and digital marketing. They chose Google Cloud Platform as the backbone for the new Zagat website because it can scale on demand, is stable, and allows Zagat to add new content and features on the fly.

“Google Cloud Platform was the clear choice for the Zagat website,” says Matt Weinberg, Co-Founder and Partner, Technology and Development. “It can handle high traffic, offers great tools for powering the front end, and gives us top-notch performance.”

"We now have the speed to publish relevant, up-to-date, trending content, which gives us a far better opportunity to help our users find the best places to eat.”


Fast, Stable, and Powerful

The digital agency improved website performance by using Google App Engine to render the site from Zagat’s content management system (CMS) and to handle load balancing and scaling. Google Compute Engine accelerates the performance of Zagat’s CMS by scaling automatically in response to traffic. In other words, CMS servers don’t bog down during heavy use, thus helping ensure that user experiences

Google Cloud Storage contains all Zagat data for hosting the website, including multimedia content. Google Cloud SQL hosts the database of Zagat reviews and web content such as lists, news, and video posts. For consistent web performance worldwide, Zagat uses Google Cloud CDN, which leverages Google’s globally distributed edge points of presence, which supports high quality content delivery everywhere on every device.

The agency performed all of the programming and development work for Zagat’s new infrastructure, and continues to manage the deployment. Thanks to its work with Google Cloud Platform, Zagat’s website is faster with less downtime. So, when Zagat publishes new lists, which typically generates traffic spikes, the infrastructure automatically scales to match the increased load. Instead of routinely load balancing or managing MySQL servers like in the past, engineers can focus on developing new features while Google Cloud SQL takes care of the rest.

“We no longer need to manage the website’s underlying infrastructure—Google Cloud Platform handles that for us,” says Matt. “The performance increases have been dramatic, and the Zagat site is always available when visitors need it.”

“We no longer need to manage the website’s underlying infrastructure—Google Cloud Platform handles that for us. The performance increases have been dramatic, and the Zagat site is always available when visitors need it.”


Serving Users Fresh Experiences

Using Google Cloud Platform helps Zagat editors and engineers focus on creating new content and delivering it more efficiently, which helps keep customers engaged. Before Zagat moved to Google Cloud Platform, engineers had to test the web infrastructure to determine whether it could handle additional traffic when new features were released. Consequently it could take weeks to launch new features, making Zagat less responsive to customer needs.

“Thanks to our partner and Google Cloud Platform, we can introduce new features more quickly, and our editors can update content on a daily basis,” says Ranjith Jayaram, Product Manager at Zagat.

“That’s important, because we are in a rapidly changing space. We now have the speed to publish relevant, up-to-date, trending content, which gives us a far better opportunity to help our users find the best places to eat.”

“Thanks to our partner and Google Cloud Platform, we can introduce new features more quickly, and our editors can update content on a daily basis.”

Ranjith Jayaram,
Product Manager