Founded in 1989, SHI International (SHI) is an $11 billion provider of technology products and services headquartered in Somerset, New Jersey. SHI’s team of over 6,000 IT specialists deliver custom IT solutions to organizations worldwide. The company needed to migrate its core ecommerce application from its on-premises infrastructure to the cloud. The goal: to speed application development and reduce downtime and maintenance.
SHI partnered with NTT DATA to containerize SHI’s ecommerce application and migrate it to the Microsoft Azure cloud platform. The solution helps create a continuous integration/continuous delivery (CI/CD) pipeline that increases the speed and reliability of code deployment while delivering a more agile, robust application. CI/CD development also helps SHI improve speed to market, leverage elastic resource scaling, minimize downtime and end on-premises hosting costs.
SHI experts help customers select, deploy and manage solutions from over 15,000 technology partners. Much of that activity — including billions of dollars in annual revenue — flows through SHI’s massive ecommerce application, matching buyers with a broad portfolio of hardware and software offerings.
For a company that generates its principal revenue through online sales, no system is more critical than its ecommerce application. While these crucial applications can be hosted with on-premises infrastructure, many companies opt to host their apps on a public cloud, where they can take advantage of state-of-the-art innovation, performance and scale.
After years of hosting its ecommerce application on its own on-premises infrastructure, SHI looked to migrate the application to the public cloud. Doing so would secure many benefits, including agile deployment, massive scalability, high reliability and reduced capital and maintenance costs.
- Enables automation workflows for application deployment and reduces deployment lead time from hours to minutes
- Integrates unit testing, code quality analysis, performance testing and security scanning tools in the CI/CD pipeline
- Creates a CI/CD pipeline for accelerated, reliable code development across four environments
- Enables Kubernetes services for automated, elastic resource scaling
- Improves application resiliency by running a hybrid model
Taking flight to Azure
“We’ve partnered for several years with NTT DATA in providing IT services for our clients,” says Chris Wuestefeld, software development manager with SHI. “NTT DATA has abundant cloud transformation experience, so they were a natural fit to help us define and implement the best path for migrating our ecommerce application to the cloud.”
NTT DATA did a consultative assessment with SHI to determine the key business drivers for migrating to the cloud. Of the initiatives they considered, the team and its leadership agreed on accelerating speed to market, minimizing system downtime and reducing maintenance. With the business drivers determined, SHI and NTT DATA chose to transform and migrate the SHI ecommerce application to the Microsoft Azure cloud platform.
“Azure offered proven workflows and cloud services to ensure that we’d readily meet our transformation goals,” says Wuestefeld. “Our internal team wasn’t experienced with all the DevOps best practices for an Azure migration, but we knew that NTT DATA’s Cloud Transformation team had deep experience with that. Moreover, NTT DATA committed to not only helping us migrate the application, but to do so shoulder-by-shoulder with our internal team, ensuring that we’d have the knowledge to deploy and manage the platform day-to-day ourselves as we further develop our applications.”
Transformed deployment with containers
SHI built its ecommerce application on a foundation of microservices managing functions such as its product catalog, inventory, orders and delivery. It used manual workflows to deploy those microservices onto the company’s infrastructure.
Wuestefeld says, “With the cloud transformation, we had 35 microservices that we needed to migrate to Azure. Migrating each one of them manually — from development to test, then to staging and production — presented multiple risks for error and downtime. So, we looked to automating our deployment workflow.”
The SHI and NTT DATA team chose to transform the microservices in SHI’s ecommerce application into software containers using NTT DATA’s Application Modernization services. A software container bundles up microservices code and dependencies as a self-contained unit so each can run on multiple operating systems and hardware platforms. Automation tools can then move the containers through development, test and production environments rapidly and reliably.
SHI’s legacy application was written in .NET Core and operated on Windows virtual machines. NTT DATA migrated the application into Azure-hosted containers in Kubernetes clusters that are managed through Azure Kubernetes Service (AKS). AKS orchestrates the elastic provisioning of SHI’s ecommerce application. Application resources scale up automatically to accommodate demand spikes — for example, to meet end-of-quarter customer procurement cycles. When loads fall, resources scale back down to reduce operating costs. The ecommerce application remains highly responsive to users throughout.
Having the microservices containerized on Azure provides a pathway for creating a continuous integration/continuous delivery (CI/CD) pipeline. Now, SHI can easily modify existing microservices or add new microservices to the ecommerce application. Using trackable, repeatable and automated processes promotes code through development environments. The CI/CD pipeline further delivers on SHI’s cloud transformation goals of improving speed to market while minimizing downtime and reducing maintenance.
More innovation on the horizon
SHI and NTT DATA continue to explore Azure’s diverse set of capabilities. One example: a proof of concept to use AKS to deploy SHI’s public website onto Azure, thus enabling a CI/CD pipeline for SHI’s broader web presence.
Wuestefeld says, “Now that we’ve modernized and moved our ecommerce application to Azure with NTT DATA’s help, we’re able to take advantage of the innovations that Azure offers us. A CI/CD development pipeline accelerates our speed to market, [implements] elastic resource scaling, [minimizes] downtime and [eliminates] our on-premises hosting expense. Those are massive improvements and just the beginning of our journey to the cloud.”
SHI’s successful agile delivery project with the NTT DATA team has inspired the company to adopt agile processes for other projects. Doing so will extend SHI’s benefits far beyond the original project.
About SHI International
SHI International Corp, headquartered in Somerset, New Jersey, is a privately owned provider of IT infrastructure, end-user computing, cybersecurity and IT optimization products and services. SHI has customers in the non-profit, private, and public sectors.