Delivering Consistent, Relevant and Personalized Customer Experiences by Powering Oracle Commerce Stores with Rackspace Hosting and Critical Application Services


Industry-leading SLA with a 100% production platform uptime guarantee from Rackspace keeps the doors to your Oracle® Commerce online store always open.

A Rackspace whitepaper written by:
Mahesh Gandhe, Sr. Solutions Manager for Ecommerce
Robert Davis, Product Manager for Critical Application Services
Michael Canter, Web Scale Engineer for Critical Application Services for Oracle Commerce
Lizetta Staplefoote, Content Strategist

1. Introduction

By 2015, global ecommerce sales are projected to top $338 billion1. To keep up with the growth, retailers are seeking out technology solutions that allow them to deliver customer experience and performance efficiencies to take advantage of the growth. The majority of ecommerce technology decisions are being driven by these trends that are changing the ecommerce landscape:

TREND #1: MORE TRAFFIC
Shoppers on mobile devices, smartphones, and desktops have sustained double-digit growth in online spending for over a decade2. In 2013, weekend sales traffic ballooned four times the pace of weekday sales3. The crush of performance demands to keep up with the increased traffic is pushing ecommerce operators to re-think the technology that fuels their sales engines.

TREND #2: OMNI-CHANNEL COMMERCE
In-store, kiosk, mobile, and web are becoming increasingly integrated into omni-channel commerce. Channel integration allows 37 percent of U.S. consumers the ability to use their smartphones while in a brick and mortar store to check prices, inventory, or options or to even purchase a product4. This model requires traditionally fragmented channels to share and process information across multiple sales platforms.

TREND #3: EVOLVED SHOPPERS
Though retailers consistently rank at the top of the industry rankings for customer experience, a majority of consumers (61%) rate ecommerce customer experience as okay, poor, or very poor5 leaving a lot of room for progress. To improve experience often means improving underlying systems from the front end all the way down to the hardware running it to support enhanced, customized, and brand differentiating experiences.

TREND #4: GLOBAL AND LOCAL MARKETPLACES
The macro demands of delivering consistent site performance across continents is coming fast on the heels of the demand for more personalized experiences based on location-aware tools that work on the micro level. Both marketplace challenges require creative thinking backed by strong technology solutions for execution.

Oracle Commerce is designed to meet the emerging challenges of ecommerce. When customized by a skilled System Integrator (SI), it can generate extraordinary results. However, the hosted infrastructure is the critical foundation that makes it all possible. Whether supporting Oracle Commerce users directly, or in partnership with leading Oracle Commerce System Integrators (SI), Rackspace delivers Oracle Commerce customers infrastructure, Fanatical Support® for the overall environment, and deep application expertise for Oracle ATG Web Commerce, Oracle Endeca, and Oracle Database. Services include architecting, installing, configuring, deploying and monitoring Oracle Commerce applications for more relevant, personalized, and consistent experiences across multiple online channels

This white paper will explore how Critical Application Services for Oracle Commerce at Rackspace provides the best hosting platform and application management services for Oracle’s market-leading ecommerce solution.

The vertical integration of hardware and services for application management can lead to benefits that could not be achieved through other means, for example:

  • 100% production platform uptime guarantee. The highest level of possible availability within a single data center
  • Support for customer experience initiatives. When customers are more satisfied due to high availability and fast performance, increased conversion rates follow.
  • Transform return on investment (ROI). Improved performance and converting CAPEX to OPEX can lead to higher conversion rates and increased profits.

Together, these benefits make Rackspace hosting and application management services for Oracle Commerce an unparalleled platform for ecommerce operation.

2. Oracle Commerce – A Leading Ecommerce Platform

Oracle Commerce leads the pack and is identified as a leader in Gartner’s 2013 Magic Quadrant for E-Commerce. Increasingly, retailers are realizing the need to support cross-channel commerce, search, and personalization. Oracle refers to this as, Commerce Anywhere, allowing customers to interact with brands on their own terms. This trend is reinforced by findings from the Oracle 2013 B2B Commerce Trends survey showing personalization, online catalogs, and SEO as the top B2C practices most influencing revenue. The survey also reports a third of respondents plan on investing in cross-channel integration and managing and leveraging product content to improve customer experience.

Customers now expect relevant, personalized, and consistent experiences across the multiple touch points they engage with to make purchase decisions. Retailers are now forced to manage and scale consumer-driven, cross-channel experiences and meet business goals. This balancing act results in cobbling together siloed tools and systems to support online channels. These technology limitations create frustration and degraded customer experiences for users and missed goals for retailers.

Oracle got ahead of the trend by acquiring both ATG for cross-channel commerce and Endeca for customer experience. These assets have been combined as Oracle Commerce. The Oracle Commerce Solution unifies best in class commerce applications focused on personalized user experiences, business user enablement, and scalability to meet the evolving demands of commerce. Oracle Commerce consists of:

  • Oracle ATG Web Commerce: A robust development framework, built on over 10 million lines of Java code. On top of this framework is a set of pre-built functionality. ATG is primarily used for B2C commerce through the web channel but it may also be used for B2B and C2C across channels ranging from mobile to embedded video game consoles. ATG uses a traditional three-tier architecture, with a relational database in the back-end.
  • Oracle Endeca: An in-memory columnar database and a framework for loading and querying data. The columnar database is used for typical search queries (e.g. “red shirt”), faceted navigation queries (e.g. show all red shirts < $10), and for the placement of content on pages (e.g. which product should fill the hero image slot on the home page). Endeca is deployed as a series of standalone C/C++ executables accessible over web services.

3. Rackspace Hosting – A Retail Hosting Specialist

For the third consecutive year, InternetRetailer.com named Rackspace the number one hosting provider to the top 1,000 retailers in the US. Rackspace is not just another hosting provider to retailers; it is a retail hosting specialist with the following benefits:

  • A unique understanding of the hosting needs of retailers.
    Based on experience in helping thousands of retailers, Rackspace has built a set of ecommerce reference architectures based on their hybrid hosting portfolio. Critical Application Services offers an optional 100 percent production platform uptime guarantee on approved environments. Rackspace helps you load pages stored on Cloud Files faster by delivering them globally at blazing speeds over Akamai’s content delivery network (CDN) and by helping you tune your applications, databases, web servers and load balancers for faster page loads.
  • Infrastructure guidance to help you plan for high traffic events.
    According to the National Retail Federation (NRF), the holiday season can represent anywhere between 20 percent and 40 percent of annual sales for retailers. Preparing for the holidays or other high traffic events, like big sporting events advertising, flash sales, or marketing campaign launches are critical to revenue. The Rackspace hybrid cloud portfolio makes it possible for you to buy the base and rent the spike. The Rackspace Web Scale Engineers (WSEs) provide Critical Application Services to help you run load tests for pilot testing phases. Based on the results of the load testing and anticipated load forecast, Rackspace provides you with recommendations that can vary from vertical or horizontal scaling to caching for your database servers, web servers and load balancers.
  • Differentiated application management expertise for Oracle platforms.
    Along with providing hybrid cloud hosting infrastructure and Fanatical Support for the overall environment, Rackspace offers application management expertise for ecommerce platforms. Rackspace is an Oracle Gold Partner. Our Oracle Commerce trained and experienced WSEs can help you architect, install, deploy, configure and monitor Oracle Commerce applications. Our WSEs can also help you monitor your other Oracle applications and provide you deep application insight. For an added layer of protection, Critical Application Services offers an industry-leading 100% production platform uptime guarantee for your Oracle Commerce applications on fully approved high availability environments.
  • Solutions and advice to support PCI compliance
    Rackspace has a breadth of experience with hundreds of customers’ hosted environments. We can help you navigate through the complex maze by providing infrastructure and solutions so you can implement the technology needed to support your compliance efforts.
  • One-stop shop for common retail hosting workloads
    In addition to ecommerce, Rackspace can help you with other hosting needs. Whether you are working on leveraging big data technologies for better customer insights or expanding into mobile commerce, Rackspace offers hosting solutions to meet your needs beyond ecommerce.

4. Overview of the Rackspace Oracle Commerce Hosting Solution

Together, Rackspace Oracle Commerce hosting solutions help you get the most out of your Oracle Commerce application.

Acting as an extension of your staff, Rackspace provides:

Custom installation and configuration for Oracle Commerce including:

  • Installation of Oracle ATG Web Commerce, Oracle Endeca and Oracle Database
  • Configuration of the development, UAT, and production environments
  • Documenting procedures and processes to produce a runbook

Day-to-day application and infrastructure administration services including:

  • Patching, upgrades and scheduled maintenance
  • Providing alerts indicating bottlenecks, degradations and impending failures
  • Diagnostic performance reporting
  • Identification and resolution of potential problems by proactively monitoring application and infrastructure

Tools for gaining end-to-end visibility of your application including:

  • Providing a holistic view of the transaction cycle from the application layer through the infrastructure layers
  • End-user experience analysis and incident detection

5. Considerations for Oracle Commerce

Before implementing Oracle Commerce, use these questions to help you guide, plan and execute a your ideal Oracle solution:

Basic Platform Questions

  • What version of Web Commerce Solution is being implemented (both ATG and Endeca)?
  • What Operating System and version number is the solution being implemented on?
  • What database and version number is the solution being implemented with?
  • What Application Server (JBOSS/Weblogic) and JDK (Sun/JRockit) will be used (also need version numbers if possible)?
  • What modules of ATG will be implemented (Commerce (estore), Content Administration (BCC/CA), Commerce Service Center (CSC))?
  • Any special instances of Commerce (mobile, bot, kiosk, etc) that may need to be separated if Multi-Site is not used?
  • If Endeca is used, will Experience Manager be required (this is typically yes but depends on the implementation)?
  • Will Coherence or a Data Grid be part of the solution?
  • Will Session Replication be required?

Sizing Qusetions

  • What is the anticipated peak traffic volume (typically holiday traffic)?
  • What is the typical weekly peak traffic volume (non-holiday)?
  • How many orders are associated with the traffic asked in the previous questions?
  • Any SLA requirements for page load times and if so what are the anticipated page sizes? (i.e. < 4 second homepage and < 1 sec product page)
  • Any “burst” instances anticipated? (Burst instances are instances that are started up to handle heavy loads of traffic to avoid outages)
  • What are the current JVM sizes recommended by development for the various types of instances? (BCC/CA typically is very large while some instances of estore can be very small)
  • Are there an estimated number of instances needed for each environment (DEV, QA, Prod) and for each module type? (Number of estore instances (divided by type if needed (e.g. estore, bot, mobile, lock manager, etc)), number of CSC instances if CSC is implemented, and if BCC/CA is clustered (non-standard) number of instances anticipated)

6. Oracle Commerce Reference Architectures

Based on our experience serving thousands of retailers in the past and our Oracle Commerce expertise, we recommend following reference architectures. Sizing and platform questions discussed in previous section can help you decide sizing of servers and choose right reference architecture.

A. BASIC REFERENCE ARCHITECTURE

Configuration Notes:

  • Ideal for sites with up to approximately 320 page views/sec
  • Dual web and database servers segmented behind physical firewall
  • Web tier containing product catalog logic built on dedicated servers
  • Customer credit card information stored in third-party payment gateway

Included Services:

  • Critical Application Services with support for Oracle Commerce. Let Rackspace manage your hosting infrastructure and Oracle Commerce application.
  • Work with our Advisory Services team to plan your journey to the cloud.

Recommended Licenses (Purchased By Customer):

  • ATG Staging Commerce - 6 licenses
  • ATG Prod Commerce - 16 licenses
  • ATG Staging Search - 6 licenses
  • ATG Prod Search - 12 licenses

Download the whitepaper to view deep technical specifics and process details for the Basic Reference Architecture. 

B. INTERMEDIATE REFERENCE ARCHITECTURE

Configuration Notes:

  • Ideal for sites with up to approximately 320 page views/sec
  • Dual web and database servers segmented behind physical firewall
  • Web tier containing product catalog logic built on dedicated servers
  • Customer credit card information stored in third-party payment gateway

Included Services:

  • Critical Application Services with support for Oracle Commerce. Let Rackspace manage your hosting infrastructure and Oracle Commerce application.
  • Work with our Advisory Services team to plan your journey to the cloud.

Recommended Licenses (Purchased By Customer):

  • ATG Staging Commerce - 6 licenses
  • ATG Prod Commerce - 16 licenses
  • ATG Staging Search - 6 licenses
  • ATG Prod Search - 12 licenses

Download the whitepaper to view deep technical specifics and process details for the Intermediate Reference Architecture. 

C. ADVANCED REFERENCE ARCHITECTURE

Configuration Notes:

  • Ideal for sites with up to approximately 1,200 page views/sec
  • Dual web and database servers segmented behind physical firewall
  • Web tier containing product catalog logic built on dedicated servers
  • Customer credit card information stored in dedicated servers
  • Transactional data stored in dedicated servers for security

Included Services:

  • Critical Application Services with support for Oracle Commerce. Let Rackspace manage your hosting infrastructure and Oracle Commerce application.
  • Work with our Advisory Services team to plan your journey to the cloud.

Recommended Licenses (Purchased By Customer):

  • ATG Staging Commerce - 24 licenses
  • ATG Prod Commerce - 72 licenses
  • ATG Staging Search - 24 licenses
  • ATG Prod Search - 24 licenses

Download the whitepaper to view deep technical specifics and process details for the Advanced Reference Architecture. 

D. ENTERPRISE REFERENCE ARCHITECTURE WITH DISASTER RECOVERY

Configuration Notes:

  • 3-tier, self-contained, PCI-capable architecture
  • High availability (HA) in the production environment at the source site
  • Cost-effective, pared-down target site also suitable for dev/staging/QA
  • Transactional data stored on Rackspace dedicated servers
  • Web tier containing product catalog logic built on dedicated servers
  • Customer credit card information stored in dedicated servers

Download the whitepaper to view deep technical specifics for the Enterprise with Disaster Recovery Architecture. 

7. PCI Compliance with Rackspace Oracle Commerce Hosting Solution

PCI comprises a set of policies and procedures aimed to protect personal cardholder information from misuse. PCI compliance can be a complex and costly exercise. PCI controls include building and maintaining a security network, protecting cardholder data, maintaining a vulnerability management program, implementing strong access control measures, regularly monitoring and testing networks and maintaining an information security policy. The cornerstone of PCI-DSS is data protection. Your company policies and credit card transaction volume, along with other business factors not discussed here, should guide where you decide to store this data and how you protect it. Rackspace offers the following PCI solutions to assist with your compliance needs.

PCI-DSS Compliant Solution for Rackspace Dedicated Hosting

Example of PCI-DSS compliant reference architecture without a payment gateway:

Use this table to align your PCI-DSS compliance needs with Rackspace services:

8. Conclusion

Aided by the capabilities of two Gartner Magic Quadrant leaders, Rackspace and Oracle Commerce, retailers can access affordable help in keeping the door to their online stores open by running it at peak performance.

Rackspace provides Oracle Commerce customers infrastructure and support normally out of reach for all but the largest enterprises. This relationship in turn allows retailers to return to planning and executing innovative projects for delivering a consistent, relevant and personalized customer experience.

Contact Us

Rackspace Oracle Commerce Hosting Solutions team is committed to developing technology relationships focused on retail needs and products that deliver a faster time to value. For more information, visit www.rackspace.com/oracle-retail

References:

1http://www.internetretailer.com/trends/sales/#
2http://techcrunch.com/2012/11/07/comscore-q3-retail-e-commerce-up-15-percent-to-42b-predicts-a-very-healthy-holiday-shopping-season/
3http://www.comscore.com/Insights/Press_Releases/2013/12/Billion_Dollar_Hot_Streak_Strong_Week_for_Online_Retail_Spending_Headlined_by_FirstEver_Week_Featuring_Five_Billion_Dollar_Weekdays
4http://techcrunch.com/2012/11/07/comscore-q3-retail-e-commerce-up-15-percent-to-42b-predicts-a-very-healthy-holiday-shopping-season/
5http://solutions.forrester.com/customer-experience/cxi-webinar-confirm-49RA-16373R.html



Was this content helpful?




© 2011-2013 Rackspace US, Inc.

Except where otherwise noted, content on this site is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License


See license specifics and DISCLAIMER