Open 24 Hours: Online Retailer Keeps Up Checkout in the Cloud

The Hut Group (TGH) is the UK’s leading, multi-website online retailer with rapidly growing international operations. The company’s more than 100 international websites are a crucial part of the business and need to be kept up and running at all times.

As one of the fastest growing companies in the United Kingdom, The Hut Group has a lot to lose—up to £500,000 a day—if its sites were to go offline.

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“We want to get bigger, better and faster, and any downtime is detrimental to us,” Schalk Van der Merwe says, IT director of THG. IT felt the pressure from the business to ensure high availability, so the team explored cloud providers’ solutions for disaster recovery in the cloud. However, many of the new technologies required major investments upfront: huge capital expenditures or time committed to learning new skills.

“Talking to guys at VMware, they suggested that the Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaaS) offering was really good and an easy fit for us,” says Van der Merwe. He says it only took a month from the proof of concept phase to fully implement the DRaaS solution, a project he estimated would take six months.

The Hut Group’s 60+ sites can be fully operational within four hours in the event of a failure, compared to up to three days with its previous DR solution.

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No teams had to be restructured, and no resources had to be moved, “which meant other projects were able to complete on time, as well,” he says. And IT didn’t have to be retrained to operate the VMware hybrid cloud setup. “The toolset is known, it’s very intuitive and it’s easy for us to use.”

In addition to the familiar operations environment, the aid of VMware Professional Services helped Van der Merwe’s team seamlessly transition to the new, cloud-based service. “VMware Professional Services were really engaged from the get-go of the project,” he says. “Whenever we had issues, we were able to put calls into them, and they were responding to our requests on a daily basis and really trying to help us through where we saw certain problems.”

Now that TGH’s infrastructure is more flexible and scalable, IT has the ability to increase capacity during peak periods and to reduce capacity during quieter periods. Customers experience the same responsiveness even when the sites are at their busiest.

Coming off of this success, IT next plans to move development environments and production workloads into the cloud. Hear the story below.