CHALLENGES: Simon Property Group had a series of support and technical challenges on the Simon.com website with its previous hosting provider.
BUSINESS OUTCOME: Simon Property Group has seen significant improvements in infrastructure reliability and is now able to easily support dramatic seasonal fluctuations in load.
Simon Property Group, Inc. (NYSE: SPG) is an S&P 100 company and a global leader in the retail real estate industry.1 The company currently owns or has an interest in more than 325 retail real estate properties in North America and Asia comprising approximately 241 million square feet. SPG is headquartered in Indianapolis, Indiana and employs approximately 5,500 people in the United States.
Simon.com was built for mall customers as a reference tool and an ecommerce site, allowing users to check mall hours, search for deals at specific retailers within malls, and consult mall maps in order to find the locations of stores. The ecommerce portion of Simon.com offers gift cards and a rewards program, where gift cards are sold individually and in bulk.
Prior to moving Simon.com to Rackspace, SPG had a series of support and technical challenges with its previous hosting provider. “The challenges Simon.com was experiencing primarily concerned the reliability of the sites environment and infrastructure,” explains Greg Grskovich, Senior Systems Administrator, with SPG. “In addition to that, the support was a big piece of it, as well.”
For SPG, it was crucial that Simon.com functioned properly when customers came to visit during the holidays. “I can’t understate the importance of uptime for our website,” says Grskovich. “We were on a mission to have a successful holiday season, anticipating a 400 to 500 percent increase in peak traffic. We actually ended up seeing a 700 percent increase!”
In preparation for the 2012 holiday season, Rackspace worked closely with SPG to understand their business and technical challenges. Given the SPG mandate of delivering a highly reliable ecommerce experience during peak load times, the solution for Simon.com placed an emphasis on excellent SQL Server performance. The resulting infrastructure includes a combination of physical and virtualized dedicated hardware, with clustered databases running on Rackspace top performance tier of shared EMC VMAX storage.
SPG is quick to point out that the infrastructure is only one ingredient behind their success with Simon.com. The other is Fanatical Support. “The level of support from Rackspace made all the difference in terms of the site staying up,” says Grskovich. “The Rackspace support team went the extra mile in order to make Simon.com a reliable place. As a result of moving to Rackspace, we had a successful holiday season, possibly our first successful holiday season ever, and Rackspace was really a key part of that for us.”
“In terms of our online persona, the partnership with Rackspace has brought reliability to our website,” says Grskovich. “When people come to our website during the busiest, highest traffic periods of the year, our site is up and functioning. Rackspace has helped us produce a reliable product for the users.”
Since migrating to Rackspace, SPG has built out what they consider to be a reliable and PCI compliant website. And Grskovich is pleased to say, “We are now running a stable online environment, our relationship with Rackspace is well established, and we’ve developed a good rapport with our support team. Now, it’s time to start evaluating the future of our environment.”
Does a hybrid hosting solution make sense for Simon Properties Group? Grskovich concludes, “Simon Properties is generally very pleased with Rackspace at this point in time. We’re familiar with what RackConnect is, and we are ready to begin evaluating the feasibility of moving our front-end systems into the public cloud. With a hybrid solution, the ease of administration and the potential of being able to scale quicker than we are able to today makes sense.”
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