by Hamish Barwick

Cloud enables Catchoftheday to reel in sales

Mar 28, 2011
Cloud ComputingInnovationIT Management

An ailing server that could not cope with traffic spikes on its e-commerce websites lead Victorian-based company Catchofthday to investigate Cloud hosting.

Chief technology officer, Vijay Bala, told CIO Australia that its expansion plans for general goods website Catchoftheday and experiences, such as restaurant dining, website Scoopon were being stymied by system crashes. The company also operates a site called Wine.Catchoftheday which offers specials on wine.

For example, the content images which show what products were available every day on the sites were not loading.

“Our customers spend an average of nine seconds on site making a purchase before they leave so it’s very crucial that the images load,” he said.

Before shifting data onto the Cloud platform, it began a trial in October 2010.

“During that time we trialled it on a day when we had a lot of traffic. We would spike up the deliverables to 100Mbps and then the server would fall over.

Using the Cloud, we got up to 300 megabits per second,” he said.

The company uses a hybrid Cloud setup including a private Cloud which covers baseline capacity, backend management systems and a hosted desktop.

Catchoftheday’s hosting partner is Ultraserve which hosts dedicated servers, providing the company with an additional 100 machines when needed.

Originally, the company was using a basic e-commerce system. However, Bala said this system was not built to handle increased Web traffic.

“Getting to the point we have now has taken a lot of effort and a lot of trial and error. Now, it can handle a lot of traffic because of the Cloud,” he said.

The company has a membership of 900,000 across its two websites and, according to Bala, will post revenues of $120 million this financial year.

“Catchoftheday basically sells everything. Over the last four years we’ve learnt that certain sectors sell better than others so we are in the process of setting up two new websites – one to sell apparel and the other to sell groceries. We can get access to grocery stock that people can buy at a significantly reduced cost because parallel importers exist in this country,” he said.

In addition, the company is deploying IBM Websphere as its e-commerce platform with Sage SalesLogix to handle warehousing and back end services.

Bala said it went with IBM because of the ability for customer personalisation, something he was keen to explore in the future. For example, the website would “remember” what products the customer liked and load suggestions for them when they logged into the website in the future.

It was also in the process of building an iPhone application for Catchoftheday, and has plans to develop an iPad application later this year.

At this stage, Catchoftheday was the only company website running in the Cloud but Bala has plans to get Scoopon running in the Cloud by May 2011.

Bala has been with the company for four years and initially began as a operations manager before promotion to the chief technology officer position last year.

The company has plans to develop a New Zealand website this year.

Follow Hamish Barwick on Twitter: @HamishBarwick

Follow CIO Australia on Twitter: @CIO_Australia