How replatforming gave NBrown the flexibility to grow at pace

NBrown Group PLC

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The Client

About NBrown

N Brown Group PLC (NBrown) is a well-known leader within the British retail sector and currently employs over 2,000 people across the UK.

Like many established retailers, NBrown faced the challenge of trying to stay one step ahead in an industry full of disruption. With this in mind, they set out to re-evaluate and improve their online shopping experience.

The challenge

From monolith to microservices

In order to deliver faster and more seamless experiences to customers, NBrown understood the first priority was to address their existing monolithic platform

This infrastructure, which included the Hybris e-commerce platform, hampered the speed of the delivery pipeline. This meant product and engineering teams were unable to respond to change at the pace needed. As a result, NBrown enlisted AND Digital’s help to transition to cloud and create a new, modular platform built on microservices.

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Building a firmer foundation

AND Digital worked alongside NBrown to make its architecture more flexible and robust

It was vital to ensure any new system could:

  • Enable faster and safer deployments

  • Self-heal in the event of a fail

  • Automatically activate another server to balance load when needed

  • Reduce cost through the use of more consistent platforms

  • Establish clean environments and deploy them onto clean servers

  • Create consistent development and production platforms that mirrored each other

To successfully deliver on each of these areas, AND Digital first provided technical leadership to define a comprehensive new Cloud strategy for NBrown - tackling immediate concerns and establishing a solid foundation for future re-platforming work.

After a period of review, the existing monolith architecture was migrated to Amazon Web Services (AWS), providing NBrown with much greater flexibility.

We discovered we did not need to completely re-architect, so the decision was taken to move the minimum amount possible from the monolith, whilst still giving NBrown the ability to improve going forward.

Key outcomes

Efficiency and value for customers

By automating much of the platform through a variety of microservices, NBrown has seen a number of benefits

These include:

  • Self-healing capability - It takes just 20 minutes to bring in new nodes, and less than five minutes with segregated microservices.
  • Improved quality - A centralised logging platform now allows developers to identify before they reach the frontend, dramatically improving the customer experience and release quality.
  • Minimised downtime - By enabling blue-green deployments for each release, AND has established clean environments that mean users no longer experience any downtime.
  • More consistent environments - The introduction of Terraform now means N Brown’s infrastructure can be built, adapted, and versioned in a safe and efficient way.

Additionally, AND Digital’s work with NBrown’s existing WebOps team has enabled them to take full ownership of AWS as platform engineers.

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Impact

  • Revenue £6.5k daily revenue increase
  • Digital 84% Transactions are now through digital channels
  • Real-time updates 15 minutes between refreshed stock updates on the new mobile platform instead of every 24 hours
  • Platform efficiency 22% Reduction in platform costs by reducing virtual servers from 12 to 5
  • Deployment 80 minutes to create new platform with hybris instead of 8 weeks

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