Gumtree is moving its testing and development work to an internal cloud in order to speed up the time it takes to test out new ideas.
The internal cloud is run by the wider eBay Classifieds unit, of which Gumtree has been a division since 2005 and speaking to V3, the new CTO of Gumtree, Bas Anneveld (pictured), explained that it would have a huge impact.
"A couple of years ago the team [eBay] started to build an internal cloud, based on Openstack, and what we are doing is moving some of production environments to this cloud," he said.
"We are in the process of now getting all of our QA [quality assurance] environments to this cloud and this will be a big change to our methods, as where as before it used to take 10-15 days to spin up a Gumtree lookalike test environment, it is now a matter of hours."
Anneveld said this would have a hugely positive impact as there is a focus in Gumtree to continuously push new ideas to improve the user experience of its site, on all versions of its platform, especially mobile.
"We want to make sure we get more from our mobile applications as this is a big opportunity for growth and so we want to make sure our developments are more efficient," he added.
The move to a cloud of this nature is different to many firms that are increasingly turning to platforms from Microsoft, Amazon and Google, but Anneveld said it gives the business more control over how operates its test environments.
The move to improve how it can test, develop and push new ideas coincides with a major cultural change at Gumtree to get its various teams working more holistically, in order to improve services to customers.
This was something Anneveld's predecessor had told V3 he was instigating last year, but it has now become more formal through the tech teams, as part of a wider cultural push from eBay.
"We are moving towards cross-functional squads. So these squads have developers, marketing people, product managers, business analysts, and so on, and they work together on projects," he said.
Anneveld said doing this will help make it easier for all business units to get new ideas and innovations out to customers and assess how they are being received.
"We believe that by doing this by the time we launch code to production customers will already respond well to this because they will have had the chance to input on the development through engagement with our teams."
He added too that it gives developers more involvement in the overall business strategy, rather than perhaps being cut-off from the decision-making process.
"We believe if you are in team like this that you feel much more empowered because you can have ideas and put them to product owners and will actually go somewhere," he said.
"You will be more involved in early stages of discussions of how we shape our product and that is a positive thing."
An example of this in action is a push last year by the company to reduce the time it takes for users on its mobile applications to post a listing.
"It used to be a very complex process and required users to type lots of things in. by making it shorter users can now place listings in under 30 seconds."
Doing this led to an increase in postings of 40 per cent across its platforms. In total it now hosts some 17 million users per month, while there are 15.2 million app downloads, split 8.7 million on iOS and 6.5 million on Android.
Of course analysing the data from such actions is key to how Gumtree assess the success, or not, of changes it makes.
"We like have data-driven objectives," said Anneveld. "If we make changes we like to see we have improved things for users, whether that's through our app store rating or a financial improvement.
One metric the firm would like to drive down is the number of scammers using the site to post fake ads, often trying to trick unsuspecting users into sending money for non-existent goods.
Gumtree already has a dedicated team that try to stamp out these posts, but Anneveld said the firm was now starting to embrace data to better spot these sorts of posts before they even go live.
"We're at the early stage in this journey. We've been filtering out scammer for years, but now we are looking more into data and doing analysis on that to spot patterns and analyse how these ads are placed. We're really building our muscle on this," he added.
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