36Boutiques and Optaros

Company Overview:

36Boutiques, a South Africa-based private sales retail store, sells luxury merchandise to members at a discount via timed online events. Its parent company, MIH Holdings Limited (a subsidiary of Naspers Limited), is an internet conglomerate with operations in several continents.

36-Boutiques-Case-Study-Foetron Inc.36Boutiques leveraged the help of Optaros, a service provider for ecommerce solutions, in building its solution on AWS. “We relied on the advice of Optaros, our chosen design and technology partner, for the hosting decision for 36Boutiques,” says Paul Casarin, Head of New Business, MIH eCommerce Africa. “Optaros has the retail technology vision and execution capabilities that gave us world class design and a quicker delivery.”

36Boutiques has used Amazon Web Services (AWS) bundled into the OCentric ecommerce solution from Optaros. Using AWS has allowed the team at 36Boutiques to focus on application development without needing to worry about time-consuming setup and management of infrastructure resources. Moreover, it has effectively reduced the company’s time to market, while lowering its capital expenditure.

Core components of the Optaros OCentric solution include the Magento ecommerce software running on Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2), with content stored on Amazon Simple Storage Service (S3). According to Casarin, “AWS has allowed us to rapidly deploy a new business without having to wait for co-location hosting servers or commit to a fixed number of servers for a year or more. This has saved us significant time and money in launching a new venture.”

Amazon EC2 enables customers to leverage auto-scaling features that can be critical in an e-commerce model with large numbers of customers rushing to buy at the same time before inventory runs out. Auto scaling automatically allows 36Boutiques to scale up or scale down based on its usage and traffic patterns, avoiding wasting money on unutilized servers without losing the opportunity to serve growing demand. Casarin adds, “It gives us the peace of mind as we grow our business that the system will always be able to handle the load and we won’t lose sales because of our hosting infrastructure.”

Casarin concludes, “Launching a business in South Africa using Amazon Web Services initially sounded like a daunting and risky choice. However we are glad to report that we’re up and running with a scalable solution and an outstanding customer experience that successfully competes with the local equivalent.”

The team at 36Boutiques would like to share the following lessons from their experience in building their application on AWS:

  1. After testing several Amazon EC2 instance types for homepages and carts, the 36Boutiques team found the best price/performance tradeoff for their own application with the c1.medium instance type, with which they can handle approximately 1,500 customers per hour.
  2. Use a reverse proxy or light HTTP server for serving static content—such as images, CSS and other media—or a CDN (content delivery network) for customers that are spread out geographically.
  3. Cache product catalog views for anonymous users, using tools such as Magento Full Page Cache or reverse proxies such as Varnish. For customers that are logged in, custom caching using Ajax or server side includes can improve site performance for end users dramatically.
  4. Scale horizontally by adding servers to cope with peaks in traffic—an expected occurrence in e-commerce at busy times such as evenings, holidays, and large sale events. A fully automated server provisioning process that records visitor behavior minute-by-minute is helpful in forecasting traffic ebbs and flows as accurately as possible.
  5. Database tuning according to best practices is helpful but is not a major bottleneck with regard to performance and scaling. If databases become an issue, it is possible to split read and write traffic, or to scale vertically, with only a short interruption of service.
  6. Centralize or proxy-out all communications from a single server. This often involves integration with back-office systems such as static IP for firewalling.
  7. Rely on infrastructure value-added services—such as Amazon S3, ELB, EBS, SQS, Monitoring and Auto Scaling—to reduce operational cost.


Amazon Case Study: 36Boutiques and Optaros

Date: 28-08-2013

--> /**/
We look forward to working with you for Cloud, Security, and other IT product-related opportunities. You can connect with us at +91-8826294740