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by Lennard under | 0 comments

Groupon’s new cloud platform at CloudVPS - Case Study

Groupon, the multinational company that brings potential customers and local businesses together with daily deals, chose for CloudVPS in order to migrate its services to a flexible cloud platform. To the great satisfaction of all the parties involved.

What does Groupon do?

Since November 2008, Groupon has been offering daily deals on the best things to do, eat or buy. They now do this in 48 countries and the number keeps on growing. Groupon employs around 10,000 people, working at its Headquarters in Chicago, a growing office in Palo Alto (California) plus in local markets in North America and around the world. The company’s philosophy is simple: treat the customer as you would like to be treated yourself. This of course calls for rapid service and response times, as many millions of people look at these offers each day.

The Challenge: A flexible cloud with increased capacity

Partners and customers use a CRM system to manage the Groupon deals they have offered or purchased. In the Benelux this CRM software was designed by Neacon and optimized by SupportDesk. This is an important system, that has already processed more than five million orders by more than a million customers. One of the improvements that Groupon still needed to implement was a migration to a fast and flexible cloud platform. The solution that they had used up to that point did not offer sufficient flexibility or capacity. Groupon also felt that there was significant room for improvement in the levels of service and support that their then current partner was offering.

“We were chosen as their cloud provider for this project because multiple tests had shown that CloudVPS offered good performance and support. Groupon had initially ordered products from various different providers anonymously in order to make a fair assessment of both performance and support. In setting up the required infrastructure we faced a major challenge, as external circumstances meant that the system’s migration had to be carried out in just a few days. We are proud to be able to say that we set up a complex environment in a single day, meaning the migration could be carried out quickly and with minimal downtime.” explained Lennard Zwart, Managing Director of CloudVPS.

Collaboration with SupportDesk and Neacon

The configuration was done in collaboration with SupportDesk. This is a partner that CloudVPS works with regularly to optimize important sites and applications. Many improvements were implemented at this stage. For the web server, Apache was replaced with nginx, an open source, high performance HTTP server. Using PHP-FPM, web server processes were also separated from the application-related processes, which helped to increase performance further. The MySQL configuration on the database servers was also optimized.

Neacon subsequently performed the migration in under three days. CloudVPS made its engineers available at all times throughout the process in order to help with any problems. In the end the total downtime was limited to a single hour on Easter Sunday.

Speed and flexibility

The migration went smoothly and all the parties involved are satisfied with the quick and professional way this complex process was executed. Since Groupon’s CRM cluster moved to CloudVPS, its pages now load 3 to 4 times faster. The daily occurrence of unavailability during peak-times is a thing of the past.

Joris Vanderlinden, Groupon Benelux Project Manager says of the process: “Since the Groupon CRM cluster moved to CloudVPS, the system has become noticeably faster and more flexible, which has directly resulted in an improved service for our customers. CloudVPS is also a very proactive partner for our engineers and the external parties involved to work with.”

The future

The new cluster is now significantly faster and more stable than the previous solution, but the developments don’t stop there. We have now created a stable base on which to build further improvements. Extra redundancy will be built into the system and message queueing will be included in the cluster, probably using Redis. Message queueing allows activities to be processed whenever a specific server or service has time to do so. This makes it harder for servers or services to become overloaded and therefore makes them more stable. Redis is a key-value store, meaning data can be easily stored until it needs to be used.

Parties involved
Groupon

Since November 2008, Groupon has been offering daily deals on the best things to do, eat or buy. They now do this in 48 countries and the number keeps on growing. Groupon employs around 10,000 people, working at its Headquarters in Chicago, a growing office in Palo Alto (California) plus in local markets in North America and regional offices in Europe, Latin America and around the world. The company’s philosophy is simple: treat the customer as you would like to be treated yourself. http://www.groupon.com

CloudVPS

CloudVPS is one of the top cloud providers in the Netherlands. Its network is spread across three Class A data centres and serves a range of demanding, high profile clients. CloudVPS has a large public cloud providing users with flexible capacity. A large number of private clouds and customized clusters have also been implemented. CloudVPS leads the pack in cloud-related certification and open source cloud technologies such as Open Stack. http://www.cloudvps.com

Neacon

Neacon makes made-to-measure software, guided at all times by the business procedures that the company aims to achieve. Neacon first looks at the existing procedures and formulates a strategy on that basis: the process is mapped out, interdependences flagged, and whenever possible the return on investment is calculated. Neacon is convinced that automation only makes sense if it is beneficial to the efficiency of operations and makes employees’ work easier. This approach has been seen to work particularly well with companies that have complex processes in logistics and other areas. http://www.neacon.eu (Dutch)

SupportDesk B.V.

SupportDesk BV provides professional support for the Magento and Joomla! platforms. They use standardisation and consolidated workflows to help clients support, maintain, and optimize their Magento webshop or Joomla! website. SupportDesk also offers a lot of Magento and Joomla!-related training. In addition to their specialism in Magento and Joomla!, they can also provide bespoke advice on complex set-ups. SupportDesk is the ideal partner for website owners, system administrators, web hosts, web designers and programmers. http://www.supportdesk.nu (Dutch)

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