Online Retailer Scales for Demand, Improves Latency by Using Cloud Services


As business grew, Indiaplaza’s existing technology infrastructure could not handle the resulting spike in demand. The company decided to move to a cloud-based infrastructure and chose the Windows Azure platform for all its needs. As a result, Indiaplaza gained the scalability it wanted while avoiding capital expenses and reducing management time by 100 percent.

Business Needs

Indiaplaza, an Indian electronics commerce company, pioneered the online shopping space in India. Formerly known as and later, the company acquired US-based online shopping firm, India’s leading online shopping and gifting destination. Indiaplaza offers nearly 10 million products online, including books, electronics, mobile phones, apparel, gifts, and much more. It has nearly 1.5 million customers worldwide.

The technology solutions at Indiaplaza have been built using the .NET Framework from Microsoft. The web services are written in ASP and C# connecting SQL Server database through IIS. The back-up plan was configured using the SQL Server 2000 Enterprise database maintenance plan.

Over the years, as market size changed and business started growing, Indiaplaza experienced numerous challenges. K Vaitheeswaran, CEO & Founder, Indiaplaza says, “In 1999 there were only three million internet users and less than 10,000 e-commerce customers. Today, there are 100 million internet users and seven million e-Commerce customers. As transactions increased, we started to lose customers as our site would slow down and the aging infrastructure couldn’t take the load.”

The technology infrastructure was obsolete. The SQL Server 2000 that was critical for the business was not scaling up. Hardware challenges added to the problems. Procuring, installing, and continuously managing the system was a highly time consuming task. “Our business was at risk since there wasn’t a strong infrastructure fail over solution in place,” says Ravi Kumar, Head-Technology, Indiaplaza. “We needed a better, more flexible solution, while avoiding a big investment in IT.”

Indiaplaza explored multiple solutions including those from Oracle, IBM, Open Source community, and Microsoft. “Looking at the growth, it was time for us to upgrade our hosting, network, and hardware environment,” says Ravi Kumar. “Given our use of Microsoft technology, it was the best choice for a new solution.”

Indiaplaza knew that a cloud-based infrastructure was the best choice to meet its scalability and avoid high costs. It selected the Windows Azure platform, an Internet-scale cloud service hosted in Microsoft data centers. Ravi Kumar says, “Windows Azure provided a more familiar, less expensive infrastructure and led us down a scalable path. Plus, Microsoft provided us enterprise class service backed by reliable service level agreements and in-depth experience.”

The solution has four components; namely ecommerce Portal, Catalog and Content Management Tool, Customer Support Module, and Order Fulfillment Module. Each of these components is deployed in a load balanced multi-instance set-up. Ravi Kumar says, “Currently, the solution is deployed at the Microsoft data center in Singapore.”

Indiaplaza uses Microsoft SQL Azure for its relational database needs. SQL Azure offers a highly available, full relational database in the cloud and is built on SQL Server 2008 technologies. The company has built a supply chain management system, which checks the inventory status of vendors and determines if the product is available for shipping or is out of stock in real time.

For Indiaplaza, implementing the Windows Azure platform, including SQL Azure, meant avoiding up-front capital expenditures and reducing operating costs while achieving the levels of scalability required.

Offers Endless Scalability

Indiaplaza has been growing rapidly and is pleased with the boost in scalability. With Windows Azure, the company can simply change the number of instances and adjust the infrastructure while optimizing performance and costs. “Demand can spike by as much as 300 percent or 10,000 transactions per day, but our teams can quickly and easily scale Windows Azure to avoid any break in service,” says Vaitheeswaran, Founder and CEO, Indiaplaza. “With Windows Azure, we have complete elasticity and endless scalability. We can easily augment servers and manage increased traffic to the ecommerce portal.”

Avoids Capital Expense, Simplifies IT Maintenance

Indiaplaza developed and deployed its solution while eliminating the need to invest huge amounts upfront for procuring software licenses or hardware purchases. According to Vaitheeswaran, “Implementing a new on-premise infrastructure would have been a costly endeavor for us. The expense is deferred by hosting on Windows Azure.”

The company now has a full-service cloud platform and does not have to spend considerable time managing and maintaining its virtual infrastructure. “Earlier, infrastructure maintenance was an in-house and time consuming activity,” explains Vaitheeswaran. “Now, we don’t have to worry about installing operating systems, upgrading software, applying updates, or configuring security and firewall settings. Windows Azure takes care of all issues for us, and as a result, we have reduced the time spent on IT maintenance by 100 percent.”
Delivers Better Latency

Ninety-five to 96 percent of traffic on is from India and is reasonably faster. The company locally has 6–7 last mile points within India. It is offering a lot more to its customers; as a result, browsing time has increased to 4.5–6.5 minutes as the selection has grown. Vaitheeswaran says, “With more successful promotions, campaigns, and variety of products, our monthly traffic has gone up from 250,000 to over 1.5 million in the last 12 months. We are now able to deal with 5,000 transactions daily. Windows Azure gives us the ability to deliver highly available services without network latency.”

This case study is for informational purposes only. MICROSOFT MAKES NO WARRANTIES, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, IN THIS SUMMARY

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