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Haircare product manufacturer GHD has outlined plans to move its hybrid cloud-based website infrastructure to Rackspace’s recently opened Crawley datacentre later in September 2015.
The move should ensure GHD’s website has the capacity and resiliency needed to withstand the steep rise in traffic it receives during the Christmas period, as demand for its flagship hair straighteners tends to surge around this time, explained Spencer Hudson, the firm’s internet technical solutions manager.
The company previously experimented with running all of its website infrastructure in the cloud, said Hudson, but decided to deploy a hybrid IT set up so the company could retain tight control over certain elements.
As such, GHD currently runs its production workloads on a dedicated, virtualised, VMware-based private cloud platform, but draws on Rackspace public cloud for test and development purposes.
It’s an arrangement that has been used by the firm to underpin the workings of its Hybris-based e-commerce website for the past 18 months or so, said Hudson, and – to-date – has worked well.
However, the organisation decided to embark on a slight re-tooling of this arrangement, so GHD could take advantage of the new technology Rackspace is offering from its recently opened datacentre in Crawley.
As a result of the switch, the firm’s test and development and production workloads will be hosted on a VMware private cloud platform that’s looked after by Rackspace’s managed services Fanatical Support arm.
If the company needs a burst of compute power to deal with a sudden increase in traffic to its site, it still has the opportunity to tap into the Rackspace public cloud using the provider’s RackConnect offering.
“A new technology platform every 18 months isn’t unheard of in the IT world because of the pace of innovation, but this also gave us an opportunity to take a closer look at some of the learnings we have made since moving to a hybrid model,” said Hudson.
“We’ve got far more experience with the hypervisors we’re using now, and our practice and competence of delivering regular updates to our website infrastructure enabled us to make better assertions about how to use that hardware.”
According to Hudson, the key benefit is the resiliency it offers. He also said GHD’s relationship with Rackspace is one that has developed over a number of years.
“If we could find anyone who could do it better, we would, but we can’t. Everything these guys do, they think about us,” said Hudson.
“They constantly innovate on our behalf with the technologies they’re bringing in to bear. We can trust them to continue to innovate and bring to market technologies we can take advantage of. That’s why we continue to work with them.”
Online demand fuels website development
When GHD started out at the turn of the millennium, most of its products were sold through salons, but – like many retailers – the bulk of its sales are now made via its website or through partnerships with third-party online retailers such as Amazon.
This shift in customer buying patterns has keenly influenced the company’s decision to invest in its website over the past four years, said Hudson, to ensure the user experience caters equally well to the needs of desktop, mobile and tablet users.
The company claims to have seen a big leap in online sales as a result of its decision to embrace a responsive website design, while its work with Rackspace ensures the site’s performance is in line with customer expectations.
“We’ve spent an increasing amount of time on performance, trying to get as much out of the website platform we’re using as possible – working with third parties allows us to do that,” Hudson added.
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