Couchbase Live Tokyo 2015 – Ryanair Interview
We had a very successful conference, Couchbase Live Tokyo, this year with a lot of external sessions sponsored by 7 companies, and 3 guest speakers. One of them came all the way from Dublin, Ireland, and gave a great presentation about Couchbase Mobile.
Ryanair session at Couchbase Live Tokyo 2015
I would like to use this opportunity to express my sincere appreciation to Vlad, lead Android developer from Ryan Air Inc.. His session slides are available from here, and I hope everyone who reads this blog will learn a lot about Couchbase mobile.
Not only the great session, Vlad also participated an interview held by SHOEISHA, one of the popular IT media in Japan. The original article is written in Japanese, so I would like to share the great story here with my translation.
** Translation **
One of the biggest features of Couchbase Inc. is they also have a NoSQL mobile solution.
This makes it possible for mobile developers to make a mobile application which can be used in an environment where there is no internet connectivity. One of the users who leverages Couchbase mobile is a low-cost carrier company, Ryan Air INC. (hereinafter called Ryanair), based in Ireland.
Mr. Vladimir Atanasov, lead Android developer who is in charge of the mobile app projects at Ryanair was used to develop a mobile app which does not have a local database.
“We had to get data from server every time. Of course, the response time gets worse when the connection is low, and this had a huge impact on our business” said Mr. Atanasov.
In general, Ryanair doesn’t provide a hard copy of a plane ticket.
So the mobile boarding pass is very important. If the mobile app is not available, then customers will easily lose their interests in our services.
His team also needs to take a quick action to follow the various kinds of regulations in each country in Europe, such as complex discount rules for each country.
Ryanair could successfully meet such different requirements from each countries, in order to store data in local devices instead of accessing the information in servers.
It’s no longer necessary for Ryanair to request approval from Apple Store about the application changes every time the business rules are changed.
It’s also a great benefit that this will be finished only with the data sync with servers when the contents in application are changed.
“We cannot let airplanes take off if the application is not applied to new rules.”
Ryanair was used to rely on a legacy relational database for their mobile app, and now created a new mobile app used Couchbase Server and Couchbase Mobile.
This bland new appreciation was released in March 2015, and Ryanair has already received great feedbacks from customers.
In fact, there is seen an user increases, and it used to take 5 minutes to book flight tickets but now decreased to less than 2 minutes.
Not on the mobile solution, but the flexibility was an another key factor for Ryanair.
It’s not easy to change schema with relational databases.
However, you can do dynamic changes with NoSQL.
Ryanair first decided to use NoSQL database when they were considering about the new mobile app development.
Then they did an evaluation of other NoSQL databases such as Cassandra and MongoDB. As a result, Couchbase was chosen due to easy sync between mobile devices and servers.
“It’s actually possible to use relational databases for data sync. But we need to develop the sync function by ourselves other than Couchbase. We wanted to focus on our business rather than taking a lot of time to build our own sync function, so we decided to use Couchbase which has sync function from the beginning.”
This is just an example but Mr. Atanasov once developed a sync function for a different project, and 70% of the development time was occupied with sync function development. In another word, Mr. Atanasov had already known from his experience that building sync function by himself takes a lot of time and it’s also too much work.
There is still a question about the data consistency due to the shift from RDBMS to NoSQL.
Mr. Atanasov explains that the strict data consistency is not required for the current mobile app as it is used only for a booking purpose.
However, Ryanair is considering to store personal data in the mobile app in future, and they are already aware the importance of data consistency.
One of the ideas is to use the logic or algorithm which enables the consistency read from NoSQL database.
So data consistency is not a biggest concern for Ryanair at this point.
The biggest challenge to adopt NoSQL database from relational database which is widely used by many engineers was a mind shift rather than a technical problem.
“Once you are used to it, it won’t take time to figure out how to develop the app with NoSQL. So it’s highly recommended. Shift from RDBMS to NoSQL is like riding a bicycle for the first time.”
It wobbles first, but you can drive fast if you are used to it.
Then nobody will stop thinking about walking once they are able to ride bicycles.
We also started a free online training
for both server and mobile.
I hope this opportunity will be found helpful and useful for anyone who is interested in our mobile solution.
Our next mobile meet up
will be on November 4th, and don’t miss the chance to meet other Couchbase users!