Inside a former Benedictine monastery built more than a thousand years ago in Mettlach, Germany, teams at Villeroy & Boch work diligently on digital transformations. One of the primary goals: continuously improve the e-commerce experience so that online shoppers can quickly find and easily buy exactly what they need, even on days when online traffic is at its highest.

Established in 1748, Villeroy & Boch is a family-owned business whose name today is synonymous with elegant and premium dinnerware, bathroom fittings and wellness products. Like many other successful businesses established centuries ago, Villeroy & Boch is challenged with staying competitive in an era ruled by e-commerce.

To keep up with changing customer expectations, the company migrated its web environment to a private cloud hosted by OVHcloud and built on VMware solutions. Subsequently, the company implemented VMware vSAN virtualized storage to improve performance of product information management. With the VMware-based cloud, the company has the flexibility to meet growing e-commerce demands and seamlessly expand into additional cloud environments in the future. 

Discover VMware vSAN

Implement enterprise-class storage virtualization that allows you to manage compute and storage through a single platform.

What Is VMware Cloud Foundation?

Expand your data center with a hybrid environment that establishes consistent infrastructure and ops across clouds.

Explore the VMware Tanzu Portfolio

Modernize your applications and infrastructure to continuously deliver better software to production.

Facing the challenges of peak online sales periods

Villeroy & Boch has been strengthening its e-commerce sales channel—and the infrastructure that supports it—for over a decade. In 2010, the company transitioned to a managed server infrastructure with a third party to improve IT flexibility and reduce the costs of supporting e-commerce.

But that infrastructure could not maintain fast response times during high peak load periods, such as during special sales events or on popular online shopping days. The company’s usual 200 orders per day could quickly turn into over 2,000—and those orders were accompanied by a corresponding increase in the number of visitors and clicks.

The IT group also found that its managed server infrastructure lacked agility. The quickly shifting demands of e-commerce forced Villeroy & Boch to make multiple change requests of its vendor, which then took days to react. The process became cumbersome and costly.

Rearchitecting for the digital age

In 2014, the IT team decided to start back at square one to support the company’s growing e-commerce channel. The team wanted a new architecture that was highly flexible, enabled rapid resource provisioning, and had a good cost-performance ratio.

After evaluating multiple approaches, solutions and vendors, the Villeroy & Boch team decided to work with long-time VMware partner OVHcloud, a leading European cloud services provider and one of the world’s leading providers of IT infrastructure. OVHcloud has more than 300,000 servers around the world and a physical presence in seven countries, including the United States and Canada—crucial locations for helping Villeroy & Boch expand its North American e-commerce presence.

Villeroy & Boch migrated its entire web environment to a dedicated private cloud hosted by OVHcloud. The cloud is built on VMware vSphere server virtualization technology and employs VMware vCenter server management software. With an OVHcloud environment built on VMware, organizations can easily create hybrid, multi-cloud environments, incorporating on-premises infrastructure and other clouds.

Villeroy & Boch was able to migrate to the OVHcloud environment rapidly. The IT group completed the migration in just a few months.  

Delivering a responsive online experience

The new cloud helped to deliver a fast, responsive experience for online customers. Additionally, improvements in the company’s website performance helped increase the Google ranking for many Villeroy & Boch product pages.

The company also gained scalability. The IT group can provision new resources in minutes and seamlessly scale to accommodate peaks in demand. Meanwhile, the group has the flexibility to accommodate evolving requirements.  

Continuing e-commerce infrastructure modernization

In the years since moving to the OVHcloud, new e-commerce challenges emerged. The company’s enterprise content management systems were a potential pain point.

These systems include the product information management (PIM) system, which draws on data from the product development team and is supplemented by marketing content. The integrated information is output to online and offline channels. To succeed in the e-commerce marketplace, Villeroy & Boch must instantaneously deliver up-to-date product information to customers. And the company has to keep that product information available at all times. The IT group needed to further modernize the infrastructure in its private cloud to deliver the required performance and availability.  

Accelerating delivery of product information with help from VMware

With help from the OVHcloud team, Villeroy & Boch explored VMware vSAN virtualized storage as a solution for the PIM performance issues. The company was able to test the solution with its live production application before making any decisions. Successful testing led Villeroy & Boch to implement vSAN in its private cloud.

The vSAN deployment quickly paid off. The company experienced a 70 percent performance improvement for critical product experience management applications plus enhanced system availability. As a result, product teams can now bring new products to market faster and ensure customers always have the latest information for their buying decisions.

“High-quality, first-class content must be made available to the various sales channels in a timely and automated manner,” says Erik Heinen, team lead of CIT enterprise content management at Villeroy & Boch. “Thanks to a high-performance infrastructure from OVHcloud and VMware, we are able to manage critical applications more efficiently and deliver accurate, complete and consistent product information.”

Delivering that high-quality product information to customers has a direct—and positive—impact on sales. “At the end of the day, that pushes up our revenue,” says Heinen.  

Building on tradition, becoming a future-ready business

This centuries-old business plans to keep modernizing its technology infrastructure to keep pace with evolving consumer expectations and rising demand to buy its products online. That continued modernization will draw heavily from VMware solutions.

For example, the IT group intends to virtualize networking with VMware networking solutions and automate management tasks with VMware vRealize Automation. Implementing VMware Cloud Foundation will help streamline management and establish consistent infrastructure and operations across the multi-cloud environment. In addition, the IT group plans to use the VMware Tanzu Portfolio—including SaaS offerings that are part of VMware Cross-Cloud services—to capitalize on Kubernetes for building and running new modern apps. By tapping into these SaaS offerings, organizations can get up and running with new developer tools and resources fast.

“We never stop striving to make our IT architecture even better,” Heinen says. “The very positive cooperation we have enjoyed with OVH and VMware over many years has demonstrated how successfully we can adapt our business model to vital technological advances and changing market conditions.” ▪