CUSTOMER’S BUSINESS: The largest online retailer of eyeglasses and contact lenses in North America
CHALLENGES: Technology that would allow Coastal.com to grow into a global ecommerce company online, with the ability to leverage new technology, architecture and software with no vendor lock-in
BUSINESS OUTCOME: Coastal.com now has the ability to scale exponentially with open cloud technology, with little or no downtime, allowing the company to grow as the business does
Coastal.com has become the largest online retailer of eyeglasses and contact lenses in North America, by offering an alternative method of purchasing eyewear online, and supplying their customers with the same designer brands and products offered in brick-and-mortar stores for half the price. Founded by Roger Hardy in British Columbia, Canada in 2000, Coastal.com offers a unique selection of eyewear styles from geek chic to business casual, carefully selected based on fashion trends and feedback from customers.
Living up to the statement "The Better Way to Buy Eyewear," Coastal.com has locked up the online eyeglass and contact lenses market in North America, and is looking to replicate globally, currently with visibility in South America, the United Kingdom, Australia, and Sweden. Glasses are manufactured in North America with the highest quality materials by the fabulously talented Coastal.com team, and delivered directly to the purchasers' home or office anywhere in the world.
In 2002, Coastal.com moved to Rackspace from another hosting provider. The differentiator for Coastal.com to make a move to Rackspace over other service providers was solutions. Sunny Dhillon, Technical Operations Manager, Coastal.com explains, "we found that Rackspace does not have template solutions, and they were willing to work with us in order to provide a customized set of solutions from server configurations, to architecture, and new technologies."
Rackspace provides a completely segregated hybrid network for Coastal.com. “All of our ecommerce servers are managed and hosted at Rackspace,” says Dhillon. “Anything that is critical and we want no downtime for, it’s at Rackspace. We use RackConnect, open cloud and we’ve got our own private servers as well with Rackspace to create our hybrid environment. To begin with, it was a front end web server and a backend database that we used. It’s evolved into over 25 front end servers, back end servers, clustering, failover, redundancy.”
Leveraging new technology, architecture and software with no vendor lock-in at Rackspace allows Coastal.com to evolve into an online global ecommerce company. And in the ecommerce world, PCI compliance is of the upmost importance for Coastal.com. “Rackspace is definitely a trusted partner considering we have to be PCI compliant,” says Dhillon. “We are in the ecommerce environment, so we’re kind of like a merchant bank, where we are actually taking credit card payments. We wouldn’t do business with Rackspace if they weren’t a trusted provider. As we’re working with them, we see that more and more.”
Along with a hybrid hosting solution, Rackspace afforded Coastal.com with exceptional support from their technical team inside the hosting company. Dhillon explains, “There is no segregation inside Rackspace, and the support staff doesn’t mind if you do call them when you need to get something critical resolved. With Rackspace, we definitely feel that the employees and staff are an extension of our team.”
And, with Fanatical Support the Coastal.com team has access to the Rackspace support team if something critical needs to be resolved at any hour of the day, including weekends and holidays. Dhillon says, "I don't have any issues with calling our account manager or someone technical, rather than going through the whole process of raising a ticket, which we can do as well."
And lastly, Coastal.com needed the assurance that dedicated servers, handling the base load, could be spun up within a 24-hour period to assist with any heavy traffic loads which would help with peaks and spikes in the cloud servers during holiday months, and expected no down time from the hybrid cloud environment. “The major benefit that Rackspace provides Coastal.com is the ability to scale exponentially with open cloud technology, with little or no downtime, allowing the company to grow as the business does,” says Dhillon. “This provides Coastal.com a platform to provision services which are up and running immediately, without planning years in advance.”
“Rackspace has become a trusted provider of Coastal.com, so much so, that we plan to move all of our critical systems to Rackspace by 2014, with the exception of in-house stage and development environments,” concludes Dhillon.
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