About the Client

The Client is a Fortune 100 Technology Company operating in more than 170 countries around the world and provides technology solutions and services for consumers, small-businesses, enterprises and government.

Business Challenge

The client needed a best-in-class software platform to deliver e-commerce storefronts globally. The platform needed to support a high volume of simultaneous online visitors (several thousands) and flawlessly complete large number of transactions across multiple internal and third-party systems.

The client wanted the storefronts to support build-to-order capabilities and allow visitors to easily customize their chosen products according to their needs. The client was in the business of selling computer technology products and peripherals and each base product could be sold with a myriad of possible product options. The price and availability for each product option was based on marketing and engineering configuration rules.

The client sold products manufactured in its own plants, from third-party OEMs and peripheral suppliers. The platform had to be designed to integrate with several internal and third-party applications to process online orders.

Requirements for high level of scalability, complex build-to-order capability and large set of integrations posed a significant design and architecture challenge. The challenge was evident in several failed attempts at acquiring off-the-shelf products and leveraging large consulting organizations.

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Silicus Solution

Application Design and Architecture

Silicus developed the platform in the form of five functional web applications – store, cart, orders, call center and admin. Reporting and third-party integrations were processed from separate batch applications. Following is a summary of functionality supported in each application:

Store – The store application was for users to browse and configure products. The application supported:

  • Product catalogs
  • Product Pricing and Configuration Engine

Cart - The cart application was for users to view their shopping carts and place orders. The application supported:

  • Shopping basket and Check Out
  • Online payments and e-loan transactions
  • Shipping Options and Tax calculations
  • Orders – The order application was for users to view their submitted orders and check order status.

The application supported:

  • Order History
  • Order Status
  • Call Center – The call center application was for call center agents to provide phone based assistance.

The application supported:

  • Call-center assistance tools
  • Order management capabilities
  • Admin – The admin application was for storefront administrators
  • Storefront & product catalog administration

Batch – Batch applications were created to run periodic jobs across the platform. Some of them included applications for:

  • Integration with Internal and Third-Party Order fulfillment and ERP systems
  • Web Site Analytics and Reporting
  • Infrastructure Design for Scaling Up and Out

Each web application was on a separate domain, separate database and potentially a separate web server farm. This configuration allowed the platform to scale out across the five applications on their respective server farms. Each application was capable of scaling up with additional servers using a load balancer across the server farm.

Store Application Database Scalability

The store application needed to support the maximum number of online visitors. A single database server was unable to meet the scalability requirements. By design the store database was a read-only database. Silicus worked with the client’s infrastructure team to build SQL Server database replication jobs to replicate product information from a staging server to across multiple store application database servers. Store administrators would update product information in the staging environment and could trigger the replication jobs when they were done. Changes to product information were in small increments and the replication jobs took very little time. Store Administrators could also schedule new product updates based on stipulated product launch dates.

Orders Database Security

The order database contained confidential order payment information such as credit cards information, loan application information, etc. Silicus implemented security features across the orders application and database including data encryption, strong authentication, login auditing, SQL injection prevention, capturing SQL errors at the data access layer, etc. Additionally, Silicus worked with the Client’s infrastructure team to ensure full lock-down and security auditing of the order database infrastructure.

Technologies Used

Language
Language

VB, ASP, C++

Database
Database

Microsoft SQL Server

Third Party
Integration

SAP System, Payment Gateways, 3rd Party Fulfillment Systems

Web Server
Web Server

IIS

Tools
Tools

Visual Source Safe, Visual Studio

Application Server
Application Server

Windows Server, Microsoft Site Server, Microsoft Commerce Server

Client Benefits

Complex Solution Delivered By Experience Architects

The platform was built incorporating a range of hardware, Microsoft technologies, 3rd party software integrations and security features. Architecting such complex applications required expertise in multiple areas – software development, hardware capacity planning, configuration engine design, application security, web and database design for performance & availability, and e-commerce.

Mature Partner For Long Term Benefits

Silicus’ engagement with the Client lasted for over 4 years with more than 25 installations worldwide of the platform across consumer, commercial, small & medium business (SMB), and enterprise business divisions across major geographies including US, Canada, Brazil, UK, France, Germany, Japan and Australia. In its first year the platform supported over 4.5 Million transactions generating revenues in excess of $4 Billion (USD) annually.

Successful Platform Development

The client had spent several million dollars with several software and consulting organizations only to fail repeatedly in developing a platform which met their needs. Silicus accomplished in 9 months what other organizations were unable to accomplish in three years with a considerably smaller team.

Robust Design For Heavy Duty Usage

Silicus won several accolades for helping the Client accomplish its online goals, thanks to a robust software platform solution design and architecture.

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