by Lisa Banks

City Beach builds cloud-based e-commerce business in 100 days

May 21, 2010
CareersCloud ComputingInnovation

Surfing products and clothing retailer City Beach has moved to an enterprise-class e-commerce platform thanks to upgrades to its e-commerce cloud computing platform.

The national retailer has entered into a three-year, multi-million dollar deal that will see mid-market service provider Brennan provide support for City Beach’s expanding online presence and take responsibility for the company’s networking, maintenance and support services.

City Beach CIO Paul Downs told CIO he sought out cloud-based solutions for storage because of a lack of capability within the organisation.

“We just don’t have the resources from a people point of view or a capability point of view. As for a data centre, I only have the use of a couple of cupboards,” Downs said.

“The IT team I inherited evolved with the business and hasn’t been exposed to new technologies, practices and service delivery on any level. I didn’t want to be running IBM enterprise class software on a Mickey Mouse server in a cupboard.”

Downs is confident cloud computing is the best solution for City Beach and credits Brennan’s infrastructure and IBMs WebSphere Commerce (run by Salmon) with being significant factors in the company being able to build an e-commerce system in 100 days.

“By having the technology in place quickly, it was just the hard grunt of developing the processes and content to go on the site [that was left to do],” Downs said.

City Beach was able to build an e-commerce business in 100 days and has been nominated for an Online Retail Industry Award in the category of the most innovative use of technology.

“This is the first deployment in Australia of WebSphere Commerce on VMware,” Downs said.

Downs’ advice for CIOs who may be in the same predicament as City Beach when it comes to wanting to expand into e-commerce without having the right level of in-house expertise.

“Look at cloud computing seriously as a viable alternative. The trick is to be able to manage your supplier – it doesn’t absolve you of responsibility. If you don’t know how to manage a data centre or a standard backup environment then these guys will run rings around you and won’t deliver,” he said.

Brennan’s general manager of sales and marketing, Stephen Sims, said the deal will provide City Beach with ease of use and simplicity.

“Our clients generally don’t have large IT departments and so they would prefer to deal with one person who controls their IT,” Sims said. “They don’t have to worry about the IT skills in house to manage the project.”

Sims said Brennan provides City Beach with the solution on a “per server, per month basis” and was adamant that cloud storage solutions are popular with most of his clients.

“We’ve been providing the infrastructure-as-a-service product for nearly two years, so we didn’t call it cloud computing at the beginning. But we realised it was the right model for our clients. It’s providing them with the service they want but it’s giving them flexibility,” he said.