Panagora uses AWS to reduce the risk of downtime to almost zero for its e-commerce clients. The Swedish company designs, builds, hosts, and manages online stores, and provides e-commerce consulting. It hosts its customers’ stores on AWS, using services including Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) with Windows Server, like Amazon Relational Database Service (Amazon RDS), and Elastic Load Balancing to distribute traffic.
Panagora is a Swedish company that builds, hosts, and manages online stores. It also provides e-commerce consulting to its customers, which include some of Sweden’s biggest and fastest-growing online retailers like SNS, Caliroots, Naked CPH, and Yme Universe.
Its story began in 2001, when it built a store for a newly established sneaker company called Sneakersnstuff. That first client is now a world-renowned sneaker boutique, and the project grew into a successful ongoing collaboration, providing Panagora with the regular work to get off the ground as a company.
Today, its 40 employees offer expertise on web platforms and tools, and build web and mobile applications. They also develop the company’s own e-commerce platform, Panagora EDGE, which customers use to power their stores.
Every online shopper has experienced an unresponsive website—especially during busy periods such as Black Friday or Cyber Monday, or at the launch of a highly publicized item. For companies like Sneakersnstuff, this is a risk each time it releases a new sneaker design—in the minutes before an item goes on sale, traffic can increase tenfold, putting huge strain on the infrastructure.
Customers rely on Panagora for support during key sales events, and downtime means lost sales and damaged reputations. But the firm found it difficult to handle traffic peaks in its co-located data center. Furthermore, because it was difficult to predict what traffic a particular sale would generate, the business couldn’t order enough hardware in time to match demand.
“It was a big headache,” says Moon-Suck Song, CEO and co-founder of Panagora. “Crashes were commonplace around product releases, so it was hard for us to serve our customers effectively, let alone scale to take more customers on.”
Panagora decided it needed a new infrastructure—one that was more reliable and elastic, enabling it to manage spikes in demand and limit overprovisioning. “We saw the business value in an improved infrastructure,” says Song. “If we could boost the performance of sites and give customers faster-loading pages, shoppers would have a better experience, and ultimately stores could convert more visitors into customers.”
Panagora chose Amazon Web Services (AWS) because Song and his team wanted the most mature cloud service on the market. Another reason for choosing AWS is its support for Microsoft technologies, including .NET, which Panagora uses to develop its applications. Incoming traffic to Panagora’s AWS environment is distributed between Amazon EC2 instances by Elastic Load Balancing.
Panagora also found managed services like Amazon RDS particularly useful, because it offers a managed Postgres service—a database engine that Panagora was already using. “This made our move from a physical environment smoother,” explains Song. “The possibility we have in Amazon RDS to scale a production database within minutes and almost no downtime is a great advantage.”
Panagora also uses Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3) to store images, Amazon CloudWatch to monitor the health of its environment, and AWS Identity and Access Management (IAM) to define user roles and limit the control individual users have over resources. “Amazon CloudWatch is especially important, because we can see where our infrastructure is being stretched during peak times, and we can do something about it,” Song says.
Song is clear about the benefits of moving to AWS. “AWS has given us improved availability and performance. This means our customers’ online stores don’t go down during big events, which means shoppers get a much better experience and in turn spend more. The result is increased profitability for the retailer.” During one launch event for Sneakersnstuff, base traffic went from 20,000 unique users to 100,000. The site experienced zero downtime, and the shoes sold out within minutes. “It was a massive achievement to have overcome our availability challenge with AWS,” says Song. “Proving that we could handle such large sales events means that we can retain and attract the most successful online retailers.”
Another customer has benefited from faster page-load times, which has led to higher conversion rates. According to Song, “Using AWS to power our e-commerce platform helps us convert more visitors into buyers—by 30 percent in one case. If we can replicate this for all our customers, the impact on their business would be incredible.”
Success like this has prompted Song to seek new business opportunities. “We have tools to analyze the performance of any retail website, and I know we can achieve better metrics than many big-name competitors,” says Song. “We have a good business case to approach retailers and offer them the chance to increase their revenue by moving to Panagora EDGE on AWS.”
With Panagora’s new duplicated production environments, developers now use a “blue-green” deployment model, pushing code to the non-live environment to test it in a real-world scenario. “It means we can deploy several times a day, which is much more frequently than we ever could before,” states Song. “It’s a world apart from testing in a staging environment that’s a poor replica of the production environment.”
Panagora has its sights set on global expansion, with teams in place in South Korea and Japan, and projects underway in South Korea, Japan, Taiwan and Hong Kong. “We’re incredibly excited by what the future holds for our agency,” says Song.