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STUDY: Private cloud powers WaitroseDirect

By Retail Technology | Monday July 1 2013

UK supermarket assures success of online brand consolidation with e-commerce partner for virtualised high-performance infrastructure hosted by PEER 1

Several e-commerce websites of brands within the John Lewis Partnership had been operating through disparate hosting solutions before the partnership made a commercial decision to join-up its Wine, Flowers and Hampers businesses under the Waitrose brand. 

As part of the drive to consolidate the three business areas and support revenue growth, Waitrose decided to launch WaitroseDirect.com, a website specialising in online delivery of wine, flowers, hampers and gifts, operated independently of its online grocery delivery business, waitrose.com

The new business project had tight delivery timescales, so Waitrose identified it as suitable for a part-outsourced infrastructure. Despite not working with an external hosting company and having the internal capability to host the website themselves, Waitrose began the search for a partner that could work collaboratively, almost as an extension to its internal IT department. 

Mark Purnell, systems development manager at Waitrose, said the criteria for the hosting provider were the quality of its virtualisation, flexibility, scalability, failover redundancy and the ability to react quickly to changing requirements.

Finding right hosting partner fit

WaitroseDirect.com tasked Tryzens, a UK-based e-commerce and multichannel solution provider and PEER 1 Hosting partner, with building the new website on the IBM WebSphere Commerce platform. Tryzens recommended PEER 1 Hosting as it had demonstrated infrastructure and e-commerce expertise with other Tryzens customers.

Purnell said: “We compared several hosting providers alongside PEER 1 Hosting following Tryzens’ recommendation. It came out on top for cost, credibility and reliability. PEER 1 Hosting could offer us the assurance of a tried and tested solution.”

PEER 1 Hosting tailored a private cloud solution based on VMware virtualisation software, designed to scale resources through peak trading conditions on the website to address holiday and promotional traffic spikes. It also has automated failover for full redundancy. Shortly after the release of the production environment, Waitrose also increased redundancy by deploying further infrastructure at a secondary site to meet disaster recovery and stress testing requirements.

Relying on the right solution

Since WaitroseDirect.com launched in August 2012, Purnell reported the infrastructure has been fast, robust and problem-free, performing exceptionally.

The service allows Waitrose’s IT team to focus on their business rather than having to carry out routine monitoring and maintenance. “PEER 1 Hosting’s service is top notch. Its team puts a real emphasis on being as personable and high-value as possible. They were attentive and cooperative, and really showed interest in helping us launch WaitroseDirect.com on a secure and scalable a solution without compromising on high-performance by our targeted date,” Purnell added.

He concluded that PEER 1 Hosting’s service level agreements SLAs were, “hard to match and, because the servers are completely managed, it’s one less thing for our IT team to worry about. This makes the partnership invaluable to us”.

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