MetaCX: Enabling a new computing paradigm with multi-stakeholder SaaS
Scaling social graphs with ArangoDB to enable collaboration on shared initiatives.
- Increase feature development by 2x by modeling data as a graph
- Reduce infrastructure costs by 66% over the course of a year
- More easily scale and automate development through Kubernetes and Terraform
The Scenario: Building a digital network that mimics the physical world
MetaCX is a multi-stakeholder platform that enables organizations to build value networks that align internal and external stakeholders on shared initiatives and measure progress toward desired outcomes. Founded in 2018, MetaCX is a privately-held company backed by High Alpha, Upfront Ventures, Greenspring Associates, Panoramic, and Engage.
When MetaCX started, its goal was to build a digital network that mimics how organizations work in the physical world: they exist once and have relationships and interactions with each other. But the way enterprise software is being built doesn’t match. Explains Scott McCorkle, MetaCX CEO, “Each company uses its own internal-facing software, such as CRM and ERP systems, to keep track of their relationships with other companies. No one’s connected in a digital way to manage the relationships between organizations.”
Use cases that MetaCX had in mind involve increasingly complex strategic initiatives, such as mental health, diversity and equity, sustainability, and health equity. For example, sustainability is often aligned around regional efforts or companies driving programs across various stakeholders and organizations. Same with mental health. Details McCorkle, “In a mental health ecosystem, there are organizations that have their charter and goals around how they’re providing services to their patients, constituencies, and citizens, and they need a way to coordinate their work with other organizations to approach these problems in a more holistic way.”
The Requirements: Supporting big data, high-intensity, event-driven use cases
To begin, MetaCX knew it needed to integrate into the legacy investments that companies had made into their technology stack. This created the need for an architecture that could support a big data, high-intensity, event-driven use case.
They began with three databases: Datastore, Bigtable, and MongoDB. Datastore was used for MetaCX’s initial models to run their application and get off the ground quickly. Because they anticipated having large amounts of analytical data, Bigtable was used for handling analytics events at data lake scale. MetaCX also developed its own database-as-a-service (DBaaS) that it stored on top of MongoDB.
As time went by, MetaCX discovered Datastore wasn’t a great fit, so they started migrating all that data to their DBaaS to simplify their architecture. They also ran into issues with Bigtable, including their connection continuously being rejected. On top of that, they began to deal with configuration challenges with MongoDB, which made them realize they may have bit off a bit more than they could chew by building their own DBaaS. Shares AJ Edelbrock, software engineer at MetaCX, “Development time was slower, we had inconsistencies between tenants, the data was siloed between tenants, and it was hard to connect them as we wanted to.”
To more easily build a network of customers, MetaCX decided to try out a graph database.
Why ArangoDB: Developer-friendly, Kubernetes compatible, knowledgeable support
The logic behind MetaCX’s choice to utilize a graph database was simple. In the words of Edelbrock, “We needed to connect customers, and we were building a network of customers. Why not make the data a network as well?”
MetaCX started with the open source Community Edition of ArangoDB and was immediately drawn to the following:
- Developer-friendly. MetaCX didn’t have any prior experience with a graph database. They were pleased to find that ArangoDB stores graphs and documents as JSON objects, which they were more familiar with.
- Kubernetes compatible. As MetaCX’s architecture is composed of stateless microservices, they found the ArangoDB Kubernetes Operator made it easy for them to integrate ArangoDB with their existing architecture, as well as utilize Terraform modules for automation. Explains Steve Heneghan, MetaCX senior infrastructure engineer, “Being a small company, we don’t have endless resources to support backend services. Keeping everything in one place with mature Kubernetes support and operators makes my life much easier.”
MetaCX found ArangoDB to be such a good fit, they decided to upgrade to the Enterprise Edition to access features that would better help them scale, such as SmartGraphs and OneShard. ArangoDB Enterprise also unlocked managed backups for MetaCX, which allowed them to automate backups through Kubernetes objects.
“ArangoDB support is fantastic. I can pass everything through to them to validate things before deployment before ever being realized in the virtual world.”
- Steve Heneghan, MetaCX
As an Enterprise customer, MetaCX receives 24 x 7 support, which they’ve found extremely helpful. Shares Heneghan, “ArangoDB support is fantastic. I can pass everything through to them to validate things before deployment before ever being realized in the virtual world.”
The Implementation: A new computing platform enabled by multi-stakeholder SaaS
Today, through its platform MetaCX allows companies to connect in persistent digital spaces that are collaborative, interoperable, and distributed. Each organization is a node in ArangoDB, and each person is associated with their organizations via edges. Through MetaCX, stakeholders across various companies can connect to collectively define, manage, and measure every aspect of an initiative, including its desired outcomes, corresponding action plans, and performance metrics.
The Results: Faster feature development and reduced costs
By utilizing ArangoDB to power its multi-stakeholder platform, MetaCX has realized the following benefits:
- 2x faster feature development: By mapping its data as a graph, MetaCX can develop new features two times faster than it previously could on its homegrown DBaaS
- 66% decrease in infrastructure costs: MetaCX has reduced its infrastructure cost by two-thirds over the course of a year while ramping up activity on its platform in an order of magnitude