Farmer’s Fridge, an innovative food business with approximately 400 “smart” Fridges serving fresh food across the Midwest and East Coast, is improving consumer access to fresh, healthy food away from home every day—in airports, hospitals, office buildings, and on campuses.
On a Mission to Make it Simple to Eat Well
Recently, Farmer’s Fridge saw their business expand rapidly, delivering more than 30,000 meals to health care workers each week at the peak of the pandemic across ~140 healthcare facilities. At the same time, the business saw an opportunity in a direct-to-consumer home delivery program, which it built in less than two weeks. As a result, “Farmer’s Fridge’s ability to quickly adapt the business has allowed us to retain our full staff, both at the facility and corporate level,” according to Arne Saupe, Director of Engineering at Farmers Fridge.
Farmer’s Fridge not only feeds people better, healthier food, but also offers an environmentally sustainable model.
Farmer’s Fridge not only feeds people better, healthier food, but also offers an environmentally sustainable model. The company has a team that is responsible for sourcing the best possible ingredients for food that is local whenever possible, and food scraps are composted. As of mid-2020, Farmer’s Fridge has composted more than 2 million pounds of food. Unsold food from the smart Fridges is regularly donated to local community members in need through partnerships with area food pantries, Arne said.
Unsold food from the smart Fridges is regularly donated to local community members in need through partnerships with area food pantries.
Visibility Required for Sustainable Business Model
To make its business model work, Farmer’s Fridge knew it needed visibility into the smart Fridge application and the supporting technology platform. Farmer’s Fridge has built custom refrigerator software that, for example, controls the dispensing of items, monitors and controls the temperature of the Fridges, and powers the touchscreen.
Farmer’s Fridge needed to monitor and control a complex technology stack, as well as its custom refrigerator software.
Farmer’s Fridge also needed to monitor and control a complex technology stack that uses:
- AWS AppSync for API and real-time communications
- AWS Lambda Functions for compute
- Amazon DynamoDB for storage
- Amazon SQS, Amazon SNS, and Amazon Kinesis for messaging
- Amazon CloudWatch logs and metrics for monitoring
With serverless, you only pay for what you use, you can scale significantly, and you have a minimal blast radius between applications and services to avoid outages, Arne said. But serverless applications can be hard to monitor and troubleshoot, he added.
Serverless applications can be hard to monitor and troubleshoot.
Serverless Applications—Difficult to Monitor and Troubleshoot
In the Farmer’s Fridge environment, developers could not effectively triage and track errors. They also used multiple tools that did not provide a cohesive picture of the entire environment. Specifically, it was difficult to track errors across services or triage errors without a centralized location, and there was little or no understanding of what resources were interacting and how they were impacting each other, Arne explained.
Developers at Farmer’s Fridge could not effectively triage and track errors and were using multiple tools that did not provide a cohesive picture of the entire environment.
In addition, the data warehouse ingestion pipeline presented an interesting challenge for how to provide oversight and improve troubleshooting. The ingestion technology involved AWS Lambda functions asynchronously processing streaming data, cross-AWS region events, and public and private subnets.
Epsagon Delivers Instant Observability
To increase observability of its Fridges and technology stack, Farmer’s Fridge chose Epsagon to enable unified debugging, visualization of performance metrics, the ability to correlate logs to issues, and cross-regional views.
Epsagon enables unified debugging, performance metrics, the ability to correlate logs to issues, and cross regional views.
Epsagon solved Farmer Fridge’s ingestion problems with automatic ingestion and alerting of exceptions leveraging Amazon CloudWatch logs, allowing Epsagon to correlate the log to the issue. Visual representations of individual invocations as well as applications showed everything in production.
As a result of using Epsagon, Farmer’s Fridge improved its MTTR for issues by 55%, reduced its number of unalerted incidents by 50%, increased development velocity by standardizing its approach to monitoring and alerting, and decreased the overall number of incidents by 30%.
With high performing smart Fridges, Farmer’s Fridge is well on its way to completing its mission of making it simple to eat well and stay healthy away from home.
Farmer’s Fridge improved its MTTR for issues by 55%, reduced its number of unalerted incidents by 50%, increased development velocity by standardizing its approach to monitoring and alerting, and decreased the overall number of incidents by 30%.