Open Credo

Evolution through Microservices to achieve extraordinary growth in the retail industry

Notonthehighstreet.com is an online marketplace that was founded in 2006. It is home to 5000+ of the UK’s best creative businesses; offering a plethora of unique gifts and original homewares. In what has become a well-known and inspirational entrepreneurial story, its founders evolved their business idea from a kitchen table chat, into an award-winning company that serves thousands of customers globally.

www.notonthehighstreet.com

THE CHALLENGE

Notonthehighstreet.com (NOTHs) has experienced exponential growth since its launch. Its site gets millions of hits daily, with 6x spikes in traffic during the busiest times of the retail calendar (Black Friday and Cyber Monday). Whilst the existing technology was functioning adequately, the NOTHs team were anticipating further business growth as a result of expansion into new markets, and the realisation of their ambitions. As such, they needed to ensure their platform would be able to handle increased transactions; be responsive to a rapidly changing retail market; and allow them to capitalise on business opportunities. As a way to realise their ambitions, the NOTHs team were keen to increase diversity within the technology stack, by means of adding capability around the JVM language platform, and gaining insight into potential benefits of other emerging technologies.

Our Solution

Our partnership with the NOTHs team began with some Discovery work. This took the form of face-to-face conversations (with technical and non-technical people, at all levels) and workshops (including a tour of their current technology set-up). From this we were able to ascertain which aspects of their tech stack were working
well, and which areas required attention. Keeping their goals in mind, our subsequent recommendation was to incrementally move towards a microservice style architecture and approach.

Following acceptance of the proposed approach, the NOTHs team invited us to carry out the delivery. This began with the building of a POC (proof-of-concept) where particular attention was paid to working closely with the NOTHs team, incorporating techniques such as pair programming along the way. Our intention was to prove the suitability of the recommended approach and technologies, whilst affording NOTHs an opportunity to gain knowledge of architectural best practices.

After demonstrating a successful POC, we proceeded to begin the incremental work of moving their application stack to a fully-operational, elastic architecture. In doing this – and through a series of hands-on workshops and knowledge-sharing sessions – we were also able to help the NOTHs team adopt new development approaches and patterns, such as behaviour-driven design (BDD), distributed and cloud-native software, event sourcing and CQRS (Command Query Responsibility Segregation). Finally, in order to ensure that NOTHs could support and further develop their new tech stack, we guided the recruitment and training of a new Java-based development team.

“OpenCredo were instrumental in helping us broaden our tech stack. Java has not only enabled us to recruit from a much larger developer network but has added enterprise speed and stability.”

With the above implementation completed, we continued our partnership with the NOTHs team for a further six months, helping them to complete their technology transformation into a leading-edge platform. This involved the migration of NOTHs’ existing infrastructure to the AWS public cloud; with automation and infrastructure-as-code forming an integral part of the final solution. Technologies employed were Docker, Apache Mesos, Mesosphere Marathon, Chronos, HashiCorp Consul and Packer, Ansible and various AWS services.

The Result

As a result of our partnership, we were able to leave the NOTHs team with:

  • A responsive technology platform to support their business’ continuous growth.
  • A highly skilled in-house Java development team that enables NOTHs to be self-reliant.
  • Knowledge of technology options to enable NOTHs to optimise their platform as needed.

We greatly enjoyed working with the Notonthehighstreet team on their technology transformation initiative. We are delighted, and fortunate, to be able to continue this partnership via the creation of joint conference presentations and blog posts (links).