Rakuten | Success Story
The e-commerce platform Rakuten is one of Germany’s leading providers of online shop solutions and offers a diverse product range that grows continuously. There are currently more than 21 million products from over 5,000 active merchants for visitors to www.rakuten.de to choose from. Offering an all-inclusive solution, Rakuten is ideal for e-commerce beginners as well as a powerful, convenient distribution channel for existing online stores. Represented by www.rakuten.at in Austria, it is also a perfect multi-channel solution for conventional retailers.
Founded in 2007 and previously known as Tradoria GmbH, the award-winning online shopping portal was acquired by Rakuten, Inc., in July 2011. Rakuten is headquartered in Tokyo, with over 22,000 employees and partner staff worldwide
Initially christened Tradoria, Rakuten.de started as a small start-up. But “small” did not last long. In the first two years alone Rakuten.de grew to over 2000 dealers. In the 7th year the platform already counted over 24 million articles. This accelerated growth is a challenge for every IT platform. And yet Rakuten.de managed to maintain an availability of 99.99% during this development phase.
The lonely LAMP stack server supplied Rakuten.de well in the first year. While the platform was extended to 650 stores, there was no downtime. In the second year it was time to upgrade to a failover cluster. 1.5 TB in SAN storage load-balanced Xen application, RequestTracker ticketing, and SOLR search servers were configured alongside a database cluster. This high-availability facility ensured that Rakuten.de would continue to exist for the next few years and that servers could be added easily if required.
However, further growth and thus not only a greater demand for resources but also increasingly more work with the operation and optimization of the infrastructure was to be expected.
In expectation of steady growth, Rakuten.de decided to outsource its IT resources from the very beginning. Load balancing, high availability and scalability were top priorities. NETWAYS Managed Services GmbH was therefore chosen, as they fulfilled all requirements. NETWAYS’ experience with complex clusters for large platforms such as the European social network StayFriends gave Rakuten.de additional confidence. Most importantly, NETWAYS presented a growth strategy to the start-up. It would include a cost-effective entry plan and infrastructure that could be scaled like Rakuten.de.
“We needed more than just hardware and maintenance. We needed a partner we could trust to help us grow our IT infrastructure as our business grew. That is why we went with NETWAYS” said Daniel Kirstenpfad, CTO Rakuten Deutschland GmbH.
The NETWAYS team has developed a new image management scheme for Rakuten.de: automatic image scaling. Store owners only need to upload one large image, and Rakuten.de would display the photo in any desired size – within milliseconds. Using only two image servers and two SAS NetApp high-speed lasers, the image management system can handle an incredible load. More than 500 images are scaled per second and 8000 images can be viewed by Rakuten.de users at any given moment.
The scaling can even be done while the shopping platform is running its business, selling goods. In combination with NETWAYS’ 24/7 support, Rakuten.de and its partner retailers do not need to worry about even one second of downtime. This is invaluable at promotional events such as Rakuten.de’s annual Super Sale, where marketplace and store traffic often multiply within hours. This architectural responsiveness has been achieved through NETWAYS’ gradual decoupling of processes and applications. Once sub-domains were in place, processes in applications such as the marketplace checkout were isolated and buffered to allow them to run independently. This led to immense efficiency gains, not to mention flexibility in the use of resources. Ultimately, a cloud-like environment was achieved and the Rakuten.de platform was able to use resources more like services. Besides database, image, ticketing and search services, the service-based environment also offers monitoring, firewall, load balancing and backup. Thanks to this decoupled architecture, Rakuten.de is well equipped for stability, security and availability as they multiply every year.
Daniel Kirstenpfad, CTO Rakuten Deutschland GmbH said: “Looking back at our last 5+ years, we have averaged 500% growth in registered shops and transactions. All along the way, NETWAYS has offered us invaluable expertise and all-inclusive support – simply a Hosting and Managed Services partner that we can rely on.”