Flower retailer uses power of the cloud to make its business bloom

What is the best way to make a lasting impression on anyone? A recent consumer research shows that the answer to making a memorable impact is through a flower.

Believing on these lines, Vikaas Gutgutia in 1994 started his first shop in Delhi with the name of Ferns N Petals, with a motive to provide access to flowers— anytime and anywhere.

Today, the brand owns 160 outlets in 61 cities nationwide and delivers in more than 150 countries. It is the single largest organized flower retailer in India and is also one of the largest retailers in the world.

As the business grew bigger, the number of customers who visited their website increased considerably. Today,Ferns N Petals has around 1mn customers across the world who visit its website every month, where 90% of the traffic comes from India. “On special occasions like Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day or any festive occasions,we have around 1,500 concurrent visitors on the website per second. As the web traffic increased, it became very difficult for us to predict the infrastructure capacity needed using a traditional data center,” states Manish Saini, Vice-President, Online Business, FNP.

BUSINESS BLOOMS

Ferns N Petals was initially using the traditional data center model and adding another data center would incur large upfront capital cost and require substantial effort and resources.

Operating in competitive environment, it was important for Ferns N Petals to find a technology partner that allowed it to keep IT costs to a minimum, while also providing the right IT infrastructure to meet its growing needs. In this backdrop, it was looking for a partner who could help in building a premium online experience for its customers—one that could accommodate millions of customers and scale as the demand grows.

Before evaluating each solution by different vendors,the team decided to lay down some parameters to choose the best technology solution. Key parameters in the list included good service level agreement (SLA) (as availability and reliability of its website was critical for building a successful business), round-the-clock services, quick return on investment, lower initial cost, and dedicated hosting solution.

After laying down its requirement, the management did a thorough comparison between traditional data center providers and Amazon Web Servcies (AWS). Ferns n Petals had migrated its technology platform to e-bee (powered by Dynamic Vertical Solutions) early last year. “We had re-engineered the architecture and multiple modules and therefore needed an infrastructure which was cost effective, easy to control, and instantly scalable, especially given the seasonality of our business,” emphasizes Saini.

AWS was found to be a leader in every criteria and its rapid pace of innovation made it a long-term viable solution. Today, e-bee is successfully deployed on the AWS cloud platform.

HARVESTING THE BENEFITS
“With AWS, we don’t have to worry about maintaining or upgrading our infrastructure at all. Using the AWS cloud platform, we can now focus on building our business or adding features to our website to enhance the customer experience,” asserts Saini. Citing an example of how AWS cloud is helping Ferns N Petals meet its business requirements, Saini says that as a practice the company rolls out new features on the website every week.

“To test these features in the production environment, we need additional servers for a few hours, which we deploy to build, test, and then move the new features to the main servers. We are now able to easily scale up and scale down whenever we want and pay for what we use by the hour. This is so much more convenient and flexible as compared to a traditional data center or a hosting provider which requires a minimum monthly cost,” he points out.

AWS offers some extremely robust security features like setting up secured servers with security keys, strong ACL layer to manage the traffic restrictions as well as security groups, and setting up micro instance to control inbound and outbound access to the servers. These features ensure that the data is restricted to a limited and controlled user group. It gives this group the ability to create and manage the servers remotely. Further, the monitoring and support team can now easily get access to alarms and key statistics.