September 5, 2013

Flywheel is a mobile taxi hailing platform that is in more than half of the cabs in San Francisco and has recently expanded to LA. Through the mobile application, users can request cabs, view their location, and pay via their smartphone. Flywheel is currently using Riak for their underlying passenger and driver engine. This engine stores information such as user accounts, passenger information, taxi information, and ride details. Riak also stores real-time production data, such as passenger ride requests and ride accepts from drivers.

Part of the future growth strategy for Flywheel was shifting to a purely Linux and open source based infrastructure. This meant moving away from a more traditional closed source relational database system. They needed something that was easy to get up and running and that didn’t require a lot of developer resources to manage. Flywheel evaluated a number of different open source choices, including Redis, MongoDB, Cassandra, and CouchDB. Ultimately, they decided to move to Riak and supplement it with Postgres, as Riak offered the most operational simplicity.

Flywheel went into production with Riak in September of 2012. They are currently running eight nodes in their cluster and handle 25,000-30,000 writes and 50,000-60,000 reads each day. Riak’s key/value data model has been a natural fit for the application’s “events” that happen each time a taxi ride is processed. These events include taxi hails, driver response, taxi rides, ride payments, etc. and buckets are used to group them together within Riak.

For more information about Flywheel, check out their site or download their app. To learn more about Riak, visit