SHI International (SHI) needed to migrate its core e-commerce application from its on-premise infrastructure to the cloud to speed application development and reduce downtime and maintenance.
SHI partnered with NTT DATA Services to containerize SHI’s e-commerce application and migrate it to the Microsoft Azure cloud platform, create a CI/CD pipeline increasing the speed and reliability of code deployment while delivering a more agile, robust application.
“Now that we’ve modernized and moved our e-commerce 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 that accelerates our speed to market, elastic resource scaling, minimized downtime and zeroed on-premise hosting expense. Those are massive improvements and just the beginning of our journey to the cloud.”
For a company that generates its principal revenue through online sales, no system is more critical than its e-commerce application. While e-commerce applications can be hosted with on-premise infrastructure, many companies opt instead to host their e-commerce on a public cloud where they can take advantage of state-of-the-art innovation, performance and scale.
Founded in 1989, SHI International Corp. is an $11 billion provider of technology products and services. SHI’s team of over 5,000 IT specialists deliver custom IT solutions to organizations worldwide.
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 e-commerce application matching buyers with a broad portfolio of hardware and software offerings.
After years of hosting its e-commerce application on its own on-premise infrastructure, SHI looked to migrate the application to the public cloud to secure that model’s many benefits: agile deployment, massive scalability, high reliability and reduced capital and maintenance costs.
“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 e-commerce 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 several drivers 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 e-commerce 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.”
SHI had built its e-commerce application on a foundation of microservices managing functions such as its product catalog, inventory, orders and delivery. SHI had been deploying those microservices onto their infrastructure through manual workflows.
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 SHI e-commerce application’s microservices into software containers using NTT DATA’s Application Modernization services. A software container bundles up a microservices’ code and its dependencies so that it can be run as a self-contained unit 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 containers for hosting on Azure in Kubernetes clusters managed through Azure Kubernetes Service (AKS). AKS orchestrates the elastic provisioning of SHI’s e-commerce application: application resources scale up automatically to accommodate demand spikes — for example, to meet end of quarter customer procurement cycles — and scale back down to reduce operating costs when loads fall. The e-commerce application remains highly responsive to users throughout.
Having the microservices containerized on Azure provides a pathway for creating a continuous integration and continuous delivery (CI/CD) pipeline. Now SHI can modify existing microservices, or add new microservices, to the e-commerce application using trackable, repeatable and automated processes for promoting code through development environments. The CI/CD pipeline further delivers on SHI’s cloud transformation goals of accelerated speed to market with minimized downtime and reduced maintenance.
SHI and NTT DATA continue to explore the diverse set of capabilities that Azure offers. One example: they have done 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 e-commerce 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 that accelerates our speed to market, elastic resource scaling, minimized downtime and eliminated our on-premise hosting expense. Those are massive improvements and just the beginning of our journey to the cloud.”
After experiencing a successful Agile delivery project with the NTT DATA team, SHI now plans to adopt Agile for other projects as well. This extends SHI benefits far beyond this project.