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Zalora Logs 6,000 AWS Training Hours to Boost Fluency in Cloud Operations


As the largest ecommerce fashion retailer in Asia, Zalora is constantly redefining the online shopping experience. Since launching in 2012, the business has evolved to become a “data-first, then fashion” company. Zalora has been running all its systems on Amazon Web Services (AWS) since 2016, but many members of its tech team across Singapore, Malaysia, and Vietnam wanted to do more.

Zalora’s developers and engineers had expressed interest in AWS Training and Certification programs in the past, some already pursuing self-guided learning in their own time.
So, when AWS reached out to Zalora about upskilling, the business welcomed the chance to collaborate with AWS on a formal training opportunity for its engineers. Skills uplift had been on Zalora’s agenda for some time.

In the first 6 months of training, 120 Zalora employees logged 6,048 hours spread over 35 different course offerings. “A lot of employees want to learn more about AWS, but they just didn’t have the opportunity,” says Raymond Leong, director of Enterprise Technology at Zalora Group. Embarking on this upskilling initiative has helped increase awareness, interest, and knowledge of AWS among Zalora’s staff.

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Many of our engineers… attended multiple AWS trainings and view this as their ticket to upskill themselves for other internal roles.”

Raymond Leong
Director of Enterprise Technology, Zalora Group

Customizing Interactive Course Content

Zalora dove right into setting up a training plan and course roster with the AWS Training and Certification team during the last quarter of 2020. Initial interest was so high that Zalora had to put a cap on the amount of training each employee could carry out each month, to ensure they could still finish their day-to-day work. Zalora now allots employees a generous five AWS training days per month. Employees can choose training sessions based on their interests, and coursework doesn’t have to directly correspond to their current job roles.

As first steps, senior instructors from AWS provide overviews for each course so potential students can understand the learning roadmap and choose classes that best suit their interests and skills set. Instructors also share wrap-up guides after course completion, consisting of additional digital training links and white papers for reference. Courses are administered in a virtual-classroom format, starting with a problem statement that students are challenged to solve. Furthermore, classes are interactive, with all participants encouraged to ask questions throughout the training.

The depth of course offerings, from AWS Cloud Practitioner Essentials to advanced topics such as Practical Data Science with Amazon SageMaker, was a draw of the program. “The range of courses AWS provides is quite comprehensive and the AWS Training and Certification team has been very flexible. AWS responds to our feedback and is quick to recommend training that best fits our business needs.”

Upgrading Skill Sets to Take on New Job Roles

A key element in Zalora’s employer branding is its commitment to a culture of learning and education. Coursework offered to employees through the training program helps position the company as an attractive employer. It also helps differentiate Zalora from the scores of digital businesses competing for IT talent in the region. “Many of our engineers working on networking and our helpdesk attended multiple AWS trainings—even eight or more courses—and view this as their ticket to upskill themselves for other internal roles,” Leong says.

Leong emphasizes that employees base their job satisfaction on many factors, including company culture and prospects for growth. He says, “I believe some employees may choose to stay with Zalora because of these training opportunities, even if they get an offer from another company. They see that we’re genuinely invested in helping our employees grow.”

Faster Time-to-Market with Self-Sufficient Developers

Many of Zalora’s developers have enriched their site reliability engineering (SRE) skills through AWS Training and Certification. The SRE team has a niche, in-demand skill set that’s in short supply, particularly in the Asia-Pacific region, Leong explains. It’s a challenging, yet exciting career path to which many developers aspire. Some developers have assumed hybrid development roles since undergoing AWS Training and Certification and are now able to manage the entire AWS environment for their projects.

Previously, and typically in Zalora’s workflow, developers relied on SRE teams to set up and manage the infrastructure required for their projects. There are often more projects in the pipeline than SRE team members available to process requests, which can cause a lag in the development cycle. When developers can spin up and shut down AWS instances on their own, the wait time for SRE resources is eliminated. Since initiating the training program, Zalora performs development work 15–30 percent faster, which leads to an overall increase in time-to-market.

Learning and Integrating Secure Design Principles

Delivery timelines for projects are also shorter due to increased security awareness among developers and guardrails that have been added to govern how developers use AWS infrastructure. Before cloud training, Zalora’s security team often had to request multiple changes to an application before production to ensure airtight security controls. This led to delays as developers had to perform reworks and time-consuming change tasks to incorporate security feedback.

Now, an increasing number of developers are taking security into account from the start. “After attending the AWS courses, our teams understand the importance of secure design principles on AWS. Developers are taking the extra step in evaluating their designs with our security team before finalization to confirm they’re heading in the right direction, and ensure sufficient controls and compliance,” Leong shares. Zalora has also adopted new security tools such as Amazon Macie to protect sensitive data and AWS Shield to safeguard applications, both of which automate some of the security work previously performed by developers or engineers.

Path to Continual Business and Employee Development

Zalora plans to continue leveraging the training program to support its business and employee development. Some team members have received AWS Certifications in specialty areas, which the company sponsors and encourages. The training sessions showcase the numerous ways to automate on AWS and are helping Zalora teams use new tools in the areas of analytics and machine learning.

“For people like me with a traditional networking background, the training has given us an appreciation of our entire AWS Cloud infrastructure and how we can leverage the unique solutions AWS offers to improve our customer experience,” Leong concludes.

About Zalora

Founded in 2012, Zalora is the largest ecommerce fashion retailer in Southeast Asia. The e-tailer has presence in Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, Brunei, the Philippines, Hong Kong, and Taiwan, with over 50 million platform visits per month.

Benefits of AWS

  • Logs more than 6,000 training hours in 6 months
  • Recommends course content to suit business needs
  • Reduces time-to-market by 15–30%
  • Provides opportunity for career advancement and new roles
  • Reduces friction between developers and security team
  • Integrates secure design principles from project initiation

AWS Services Used

AWS Training and Certification

AWS Training and Certification helps you build and validate your skills so you can get more out of the cloud. Whether you are just starting out, building on existing IT skills, or sharpening your cloud knowledge, AWS Training and Certification can help you be more effective and do more in the cloud.

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Amazon SageMaker

Amazon SageMaker helps data scientists and developers to prepare, build, train, and deploy high-quality machine learning (ML) models quickly by bringing together a broad set of capabilities purpose-built for ML.

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