Rent-A-Center (RAC) is a Texas-based furniture and electronics rent-to-own company that offers new and used brand-name furniture, appliances, computers, and electronics to customers. RAC is a Fortune 1000 company operating 3,000 stores in the United States, Canada, Puerto Rico, and Mexico.
Traditionally a brick-and-mortar business, RAC has undergone a digital transformation during the past few years. As part of that transformation, the company wanted to give its customers the ability to rent items online. “We decided to launch a new e-commerce website to support our new vision,” says Hemanth Jayaraman, DevOps and cloud leader for RAC.Traditionally a brick-and-mortar business, RAC has undergone a digital transformation during the past few years. As part of that transformation, the company wanted to give its customers the ability to rent items online. “We decided to launch a new e-commerce website to support our new vision,” says Hemanth Jayaraman, DevOps and cloud leader for RAC.
To support the new site, RAC decided to use SAP Hybris as its e-commerce platform. However, the company needed to find the right underlying technology to run Hybris. “As we began looking at technologies, we realized performance, security, and high availability would be absolutely critical,” Jayaraman says. “That’s when we realized the cloud was the perfect solution, because it would meet all those needs.”
RAC needed to ensure the cloud provider it chose would fully support the company’s PCI-compliance requirements. PCI-compliance requirements apply to companies of any size that accept credit card payments. “We are a growing retailer, and security and compliance are major concerns for us,” says Jayaraman. “In planning a move to the cloud, we knew we had to get it right when it came to PCI compliance.”
The organization’s search for a cloud provider led it to Amazon Web Services (AWS). “AWS was basically a one-stop shop for all our business needs: agility, high availability, performance, and compliance,” says Jayaraman. “On top of that, AWS offered a model that suited our internal DevOps approach to software development.” RAC first used AWS to support one of its business lines and enlisted Flux7, a member of the AWS Partner Network (APN) and AWS DevOps Competency Partner, for assistance. “Flux7 helped us set up the right architecture for a highly available, PCI-complaint design running in the cloud,” Jayaraman says.
RAC decided not only to continue using AWS for compute and storage resources, but also to run its SAP Hybris–based e-commerce site. “We were starting to use Docker for containerization and we wanted to take that same approach with SAP Hybris,” says Jayaraman. Working with Flux7, RAC put Hybris in Docker containers deployed on Amazon EC2 Container Service (Amazon ECS), a highly scalable, high-performance container management service. “We felt ECS was the best technology from a scalability perspective,” says Jayaraman. “It also offers low-touch maintenance, easy setup, and automation.” Flux7 helped RAC implement Auto Scaling on top of ECS. “Flux7 was invaluable as far as helping us create and drive a highly automated e-commerce platform using containers to enable fast, secure deployment,” says Jayaraman. RAC also uses Amazon CloudFront as its global content delivery network for delivering the new e-commerce website.
Additionally, RAC uses Amazon Aurora as its relational database engine. The company worked with Flux7 to successfully integrate SAP Hybris with Aurora with minimal code changes. “We were looking for strong database performance, and we got that from Amazon Aurora,” says Jayaraman. “And Aurora helps us reduce some of our management overhead by providing easy setup and low maintenance.” To support PCI compliance, RAC uses Amazon Virtual Private Cloud (Amazon VPC) to provision a private, isolated section of the cloud, AWS CloudTrail and Amazon CloudWatch for monitoring, and AWS Key Management Service (KMS) for creating and controlling encryption keys for data encryption.
With assistance from Flux 7, RAC launched its new e-commerce website faster than planned. “It took us less than six months to get our e-commerce site up and running because of the agility we get through the AWS Cloud and also the knowledge and expertise of Flux7,” says Jayaraman.
With its new e-commerce site, RAC gives customers the ability to rent merchandise online. “Our customers can now do the same things online that they can do in our stores,” says Jayaraman. “We expect our e-commerce site to be the next big growth driver for our company, with tens of thousands of active users.”
Christi Liebe, chief technology officer at RAC, believes AWS has been instrumental in RAC being able to better serve its customers. "AWS has been an important partner in the digital transformation at Rent-A-Center," says Liebe. "The myriad of services offered by AWS has enable Rent-A-Center to deliver the e-commerce platform with tight timelines, contributing to the success story."
RAC has also gained elasticity, which will support spikes in user traffic on important shopping days like Black Friday. “Relying on Auto Scaling and the overall elasticity of AWS, we can support a 1,000 percent increase in web traffic, which we anticipate on Black Friday,” says Jayaraman. “And that means we save money, because we’re don’t have to build an entire environment on-premises just for that one day. We can scale on demand, so there’s some major cost avoidance there.”
In addition, the company can meet its PCI-compliance requirements. “We worked with Flux7 to use AWS best practices and design a PCI-compliant environment, leaning heavily on AWS services such as CloudTrail and CloudWatch,” says Jayaraman. And RAC can better support its DevOps model by running its website in the cloud. “AWS is foundational to our DevOps model,” says Jayaraman. “It gives us the automation and agility we need, which empowers our developers to do more and move faster. That will really benefit us as we add more website users and grow our company.”
- An Advanced Partner of the AWS Partner Network (APN). Flux7 is an IT consulting company that focuses on enabling businesses to quickly gain value from IT modernization, cloud implementation or migration, and DevOps initiatives. Flux7 is an AWS DevOps, Healthcare, and Life Sciences Competency Partner.
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