IT Pro is supported by its audience. When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more
Case Studies

Missguided overcomes flexibility issues with AWS

Cloud solves capacity restrictions for online fashion retailer

Woman shopping online

Missguided, a multi-channel fashion brand aimed at female consumers aged 16-25, was recently forced to migrate to the cloud when peaks in traffic caused by social media collaborations and other campaigns meant a traditional hosting model from a single data centre was no longer fit for purpose.

A partnership with consulting and managed services provider Bashton Claranet in mid-2016 helped the company complete the transition within six weeks, rather than the planned three months, migrating approximately 170 servers to Amazon Web Services (AWS).

John Allen, CTO of Missguided, told IT Pro: "Peak planning was everything, it was all about how you would get through the next hump whether that was from a sale or Cyber Weekend or whatever. The business was really struggling in terms of scalability as a platform, and for a variety of other reasons. It wasn't just about having enough infrastructure, it was also about whether the platform even worked properly.

"What we were seeing was a need for growth, and the business was growing very rapidly at around 50% year-over-year. Scaling up wasn't a problem, it was dealing with the way marketing was driven almost entirely by social media."

These events in the calendar would cause short-lived but huge spikes in traffic, rather than sustained loads. Collaborations with celebrities or social media influencers would force the site to process ten transactions a second for 15-20 minutes, or a spike of 47 times normal traffic, before quickly calming down to a normal rate once again.

To cope with this, the system activated a visitor prioritisation system, which limited traffic to 20 per cent in order to ensure the site didn't fail completely.

"We needed to be able to deal with those acute spikes, and then turn down the volume in terms of capacity," Allen continued. "The logical thing for us to do was not look at other data centres, but look at cloud providers.

"So basically we were looking for a cloud provider that could give us a high degree of growth at an economy scale. In the end we need to do it efficiently, but also have the capability to ramp up very, very quickly to cope with enormous spikes."

Allen quickly narrowed down potential choices, eventually opting for Amazon Web Services over Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud: "Very quickly we got down to what the two best options for the PHP/Magento environment and AWS was one frequently referenced as not just a suitable platform, but an ideal one. It was clear that they were massively bigger than anybody else in the market."

After asking AWS to set them up with some reference calls with companies such as Superdry and Liverpool FC, Allen made the decision for Missguided to partner with Claranet on the project.

Allen said: "It was very important that we had the buy-in of the ecommerce team and the CEO. Ecommerce were very involved in the process, and the CEO backed the move completely. Then the finance team were there to support us in terms of the transition cost and in order to do this efficiently we left our contract with our previous hosting provider slightly early, rather than adding risk to our business by waiting until the very end."

On Claranet's involvement, Allen added: "Moving platforms is about technology change, but the technology change is always managed by people. One thing I didn't have internally was the right people with the right skills and I was absolutely adamant about getting to the point where we are masters of our own destiny, looking after ourselves.

"That said, we're not looking to be world-class experts, because we're not likely to see the types of broad challenges that a company like Claranet would have working with many, many clients. It's important that my internal team is part of the bigger team and they get to learn and are nurtured."

Now, rather than putting customers in a virtual queue during periods of intense traffic spikes, every single order can be processed. This has a direct impact on revenue simply because of the improved user experience.

"My head of ecommerce told me a good infrastructure move should be completely invisible and I think there's a lot to be said for that. Did customers notice? The answer is no, not really ... the significant thing the customers noticed was availability of the site under pressure.

"When we moved to AWS, although the pages didn't load noticeably faster, what was noticeable was we could open the floodgates and nothing would happen. We could take every single order."

By mid-2017, Allen said, there will be no single server infrastructure left anywhere in the network, with the company to become entirely cloud-based from the internal office to the website.

Featured Resources

Activation playbook: Deliver data that powers impactful, game-changing campaigns

Bringing together data and technology to drive better business outcomes

Free Download

In unpredictable times, a data strategy is key

Data processes are crucial to guide decisions and drive business growth

Free Download

Achieving resiliency with Everything-as-a-Service (XAAS)

Transforming the enterprise IT landscape

Free Download

What is contextual analytics?

Creating more customer value in HR software applications

Free Download

Recommended

What is Amazon S3?
Amazon S3

What is Amazon S3?

16 May 2022
EDB unveils world-first openly governed Kubernetes Postgres operator
Cloud

EDB unveils world-first openly governed Kubernetes Postgres operator

13 May 2022
How the cloud primed Markerstudy for an M&A spree
Cloud

How the cloud primed Markerstudy for an M&A spree

9 May 2022
Gaia-X: The last chance saloon for Europe’s visionary cloud project
Cloud

Gaia-X: The last chance saloon for Europe’s visionary cloud project

4 May 2022

Most Popular

16 ways to speed up your laptop
Laptops

16 ways to speed up your laptop

13 May 2022
(ISC)2 launches free scheme to get 100,000 UK citizens into cyber security
Careers & training

(ISC)2 launches free scheme to get 100,000 UK citizens into cyber security

17 May 2022
Preparing for the 3G sunset
Network & Internet

Preparing for the 3G sunset

18 May 2022