UltraServe Recognizes Q1 CEO Award

Congratulations to Joseph Rutherford!

This quarter’s CEO Award goes to Joseph Rutherford, a Solutions Architect in the Chicago office.

It’s only natural that Joe was on a customer call when Matthew Hyland awarded him. Joe is dedicated to giving UltraServe customer’s the best solution possible. He has been instrumental to cut through on several key projects with his committed work ethic and deep technical knowledge in digital commerce.

Another undeniable attribute of Joe is his passion and high energy. As soon as Joe walks into a room or jumps on a call you experience his enthusiasm for the work he does.

One of his coworkers says, “Joe is an MVP. In a company that is extremely agile for its customers, Joe excels. He adapts quickly to change and does so with a can-do attitude. His friendly nature while attacking projects full force is refreshing and productive.”

Joe truly embodies a tech start-up energy while staying grounded in his extensive technical digital commerce knowledge. A big thank you for all your work, Joe!

UltraServe Awards Q4 Employee CEO Award

Congratulations to Ashley Lonnon!

Finishing the year strong in Q4, our CEO Matt Hyland recognized Ashley Lonnon a Principal Systems Engineer located at our Gosford, Australia office.

Ash was recognized for going beyond his “day job” working the extra mile on separate projects to move UltraServe forward while embodying the UltraServe spirit of taking ownership and delivering results. Ash has been involved in several key projects in the last quarter that have kept global UltraServe offices running securely as well as a huge rollout for an important customer Go-Live in Thailand.

Beyond Ash’s good work, Ash has a fearless attitude to step up when the going gets tough and pull the team through. Nothing is too difficult in Ash’s eyes, it’s just a matter of doing the hard yards and persevering since the customer is on the end of this task, relying on UltraServe to make it happen. To sum it up, Ash’s nickname says it all with his fellow engineers calling him Smasha.

Congratulations again to Smasha for your great work with UltraServe this quarter!

To join our team of digital commerce experts, visit our careers page for open positions.

Migrating digital commerce workloads to the AWS Cloud

Migrating digital commerce workloads to the AWS Cloud with AWS Database Migration Service and AWS Schema Conversion Tool

Author: Daniel Carraro, Solutions Architect at UltraServe

As an organization focused on delivering digital commerce outcomes for our customers on Amazon Web Services (AWS), UltraServe is often tasked with helping organizations to migrate their existing on-premises hosting deployments to the cloud on AWS.

For many organizations, the migration to AWS presents an opportunity to both modernize architecture and reduce licensing costs. With this in mind, the database technology underpinning digital commerce platforms is often a key area for consideration.

While maintaining support for numerous database technologies, UltraServe’s UltraServe Commerce and SmartStack offerings, leverage Amazon Aurora as the standard database of choice. Amazon Aurora, one of AWS’s fastest growing services, provides enterprises high performance and availability with the simplicity and cost-efficiency of an open source database.

Amazon Aurora is the clear choice for delivering digital commerce on AWS however migrating data between cloud providers or from on-premise databases can be complex, costly, and time-consuming.

AWS realized this and created two tools to make the migration process as seamless as possible, with AWS Database Migration Service (AWS DMS) and AWS Schema Conversion Tool (AWS SCT).

Today, AWS DMS and AWS SCT have become indispensable tools used in many digital commerce platforms, including UltraServe’s when migrating customers from on-premise environments (and other cloud providers) to AWS cloud.

Even complex migrations are covered

In true AWS fashion, they’ve already thought about complex migration use-cases catering to customers who require more advanced migrations. For example, when data needs to reside in a different environment (e.g. from on-premises to AWS) and/or data needs to be stored using a different database engine (e.g. from Oracle to Amazon Aurora MySQL-compatible) due to licensing or business or technical requirements.

AWS SCT is crucial in this situation, supporting common conversions such as Oracle to Amazon Aurora, MSSQL to MySQL, MySQL or MariaDB to PostgreSQL and even Apache Cassandra to Amazon DynamoDB amongst others.

How the tools are used

When utilized correctly by AWS partners, AWS SCT and AWS DMS are straightforward and highly effective, especially for digital commerce organizations.

After organizations provide a source database endpoint and engine (e.g. an Oracle database hosted on-premises) and a destination database endpoint and engine (e.g. an Aurora MySQL-compatible database hosted on AWS), AWS SCT will analyze both databases and perform both the schema conversions.

AWS DMS is used in a similar fashion, with the exception that a DMS replication instance must be created, which will act as a middleman between the source and destination databases. This DMS replication instance is an Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon) EC2 instance with DMS-specific software that acts as a black box.

Customizable to fit every business case

Both AWS DMS and AWS SCT can be customized to include specific schemas to convert or migrate; in the case of AWS DMS, specific tables can be included or ignored. AWS DMS also features a transformational layer that allows operations such as the ability to add/replace/remove a prefix or suffix to a schema, table, or column (or rename it entirely); remove a column from a table, or convert to lowercase or uppercase.

AWS DMS can be configured to drop and recreate, or truncate tables before loading data if required, and also to load tables in parallel, supporting up to 49 tables to be loaded and migrated at once. However, any tuning will be dependent on the DMS Replication Instance selected to perform the job.

UltraServe and AWS

UltraServe has used AWS DMS for many migrations ranging from on-premise and other cloud providers to different AWS regions and in some cases, between two databases in the same virtual private cloud (VPC). Additionally, UltraServe has leveraged AWS SCT to perform conversions between MSSQL and Amazon Aurora (MySQL-compatible) databases for clients moving off on-premise infrastructure into AWS cloud.

By taking advantage of AWS DMS and AWS SCT, UltraServe are able to perform complex database migrations for clients at a fraction of the cost compared to other database migration tools and services. When migrating to Amazon Aurora specifically, UltraServe clients have not only experienced performance gains within their digital commerce applications but have also managed to save on day-to-day infrastructure costs, and in some cases, on licenses.

Contact UltraServe today with help on your next migration to AWS.

UltraServe Awards Q3 Employee MVP

Congratulations to Bayden Allen!

This quarters UltraServe staff award goes to, Bayden Allen! There was no question for our CEO, Matt Hyland when deciding an employee to highlight this quarter. Described by his peers and superiors as tenacious, hard-working, motivated, technically sharp, and high energy, Bayden was a clear choice for this quarters employee spotlight.

With less than a year at UltraServe, Bayden has risen to be the Technical Team Lead for the Australia Service Desk from an entry-level Service Desk Engineer role. Matt Hyland says, “The best awards are when your team nominates you” and Bayden is considered the MVP by his Service Desk, Product, and Project teams.

One of his fellow Service Desk peers says, “Every time I communicate with him he has a new improvement or innovation to teach.” Bayden goes above and beyond to provide UltraServe customers with the best service while helping his fellow peers and superiors do the same.

Bayden is a model example of what a consistently positively energized, high performing, and dedicated employee looks like at UltraServe and we couldn’t be more ecstatic to recognize him and have him on our team!

To join our team of digital commerce experts, visit our careers page for open positions.

“This is what get’s me up in the morning” for UltraServe’s CEO, Matt Hyland

CEO of UltraServe, Matt Hyland, is frequently asked why he is so energised and excited about coming into work every day at UltraServe. Today at our quarterly all staff briefing Matt gave his reason as to why.

Even though the day to day operations can become consuming and present really difficult challenges, Matt is pushed every day by witnessing our company vision coming true – to be the market leading digital commerce solution for enterprises globally. Matt says that is super important to remain focused on the big picture, connecting what appear to be seemingly small tasks that are actually active evidence of our company vision being fulfilled – “important to ensure that everything that we are doing is in some way moving the ball forward”.

Every day Matt sees employees oozing positive energy and excitement about what we do. Being surrounded by high-quality people who are passionate their product is really what motivates Matt and makes the long hours and extensive travel all worthwhile. “The work people do here is truly inspirational. We’re not a typical nine to five company where you fly under the radar, you can make a difference and have influence” says Matt Hyland.

Matt has a long background of managing high profile large teams of people but Matt says, “This has been my most difficult but most stimulating position yet”.

Full of passionate highly motivated and invested employees focused on being Digital Commerce solution experts providing thought leadership, UltraServe benefits from radiated positive energy through the company which is stimulating new growth in our market. Starting with our CEO all the way to newly employed members of the team, this is what motivates UltraServe.

Downtime is costly

Businesses are expected to be available around the clock to meet customer needs and market challenges, but the only way to effectively achieve these goals is by ensuring that the company’s digital commerce solution is humming along like a well-oiled machine. An ITIC study showed that 81% of its survey participants indicated a loss of over $300,000 due to downtime, while large enterprises suffered losses of over $5 million. Updates are a critical part of competitive in the marketplace and maintaining software infrastructure. However, updates are also a headache, a system-wide update can result in significant downtime.

Updating a digital commerce solution does not need to be an all-or-nothing proposition. The UltraServe team understands how critical updates are to supporting the health of enterprises. It has implemented a way to decrease system downtime while improving the digital commerce solution infrastructure via rolling updates. How can the deployment of rolling updates support enterprise success?

Get the ball rolling

Usually, traditional software updates involve taking the application servers completely offline. This allows developers to install the upgrades and run tests to ensure that the updates work as they should. Traditional updates do not always run smoothly, and a bug in an update can result in significant downtime for a business. Rolling updates, however, sidestep the issues with traditional updates. Deploying a rolling update means that a system upgrade is managed in phases, with a server (or subset of servers) getting the updated program first. This ensures that there is no need for a system-wide restart. Rolling deployments offer three main benefits:

  1. Zero-downtime to a digital commerce site. Perhaps the most important aspect of deploying rolling updates for a digital commerce solution is the impact on the application’s downtime. Without access to a digital commerce companies website, customers cannot make purchases or engage with representatives, and employees cannot execute their duties, such as processing orders or managing inventory. However, since only one server (or a few servers) is updated at any stage in the updating process, other parts of the digital commerce platform will be unaffected, allowing customers to interact with the business and employees to manage mission-critical tasks.
  2. Highly automated, lower resource requirements. Since the rolling deployment focuses on implementing an isolated update or limited series of updates, developers only need to concentrate on a restricted set of functionalities; this frees up developers to deliver higher levels of service for the specific updates. In addition, since there is no need to take down all of the servers simultaneously to perform the updates, fewer resources are needed at any given part of the rolling deployment to support the modifications in the system. The business can leverage those resources for other, high-value tasks.
  3. Seamless deployment of customer experience updates. Rolling updates effortlessly to ensure that the business’s customer experience is relatively frictionless, with little or no interruption. The entire digital commerce system can be updated in simple phases, without impacting user access with issues that may possibly arise in other parts of the platform. Customers continue to interact with the business while enjoying the benefits of the improved software platform.

Deploying rolling updates serves businesses by ensuring that your site has little to no downtime for customers to continue to transact business with no interrupted user experience. Most digital commerce platform services cannot successfully manage rolling deployments. The experienced team at UltraServe has been delivering scalable digital solutions for almost 20 years and has successfully managed rolling deployments. With its deep knowledge of Hybris, the team manages mission-critical commerce applications in the cloud, so businesses can focus on growing, not wrangling with their software solution. Contact the UltraServe team today to attain the time and resource savings of rolling deployments.

Why You Shouldn’t Ignore Digital Commerce

The digital commerce industry is a diverse one, encompassing a bewildering array of tools, systems, and data for both buyers and sellers as well as covering everything from online payment encryption to mobile shopping and beyond.

Enterprises with online presence usually make use of a digital commerce platform or store to conduct both sales and online marketing activities and oversee fulfillment and logistics. With the rising dominance of digital commerce, the retail industry is undergoing a seismic paradigm shift. Digital commerce platforms and marketplaces are transforming the way people purchase items, becoming the more preferred method of shopping for consumer markets in U.S., Europe, and Asia.

The continuous growth of digital commerce

Over the years, the digital commerce industry has become synonymous with continuous growth, with the last 14 years seeing the massive growth of digital commerce companies across the board. This has been even more spectacular for merchandise lines such as beauty and clothing products, which averaged a remarkable 25 percent growth in compound annual growth rate (CAGR) between 2000 and 2014.

Statistics show that in 2016, shopping on digital commerce platforms accounted for 11.7 percent of overall retail sales, totaling a whopping $394.86 billion. This represents approximately 42 percent of all growth in the year 2016, with the digital commerce industry showing a 15.6 percent increase from 2015 figures.

The massive shift from traditional retail shopping

In the U.S., this massive shift from traditional retail shopping to digital commerce platforms has been fuelled by a number of factors, one of which is the increasing popularity of flash sale event days such as Black Friday. In 2017, sales from Black Friday totaled nearly $5.03 billion, and this massive success led to its adoption by other countries such as India, the Netherlands, the UK, et cetera. Although impressive, sales from Alibaba’s Double 11 festival in China was even more spectacular, raking in an unprecedented $25.3 billion in 2017. This trend shows no signs of slowing down.

Massive potential for improved revenue generation

Projections show that overall digital commerce revenue in the U.S. will exceed $638 billion by 2022, with the sale of accessories, footwear, and apparel expected to surpass $123 million. Retail sales worldwide are predicted to exceed $4.058 trillion by 2020, while reports from eMarketer indicate that the number of digital buyers may exceed 2.14 billion by 2021.

Also, the Quarterly Retail digital commerce Sales report released by the U.S. Department of Commerce shows that when compared to 2017 figures in the same time period, the first quarter of 2018 recorded a 16.4 percent increase in digital commerce sales. It is indeed clear that now is the best possible time for enterprises to tap into the power of the digital marketplace and grow their digital commerce businesses.

In 2015, the global digital commerce platform market was valued at $4.44 billion. A recent study carried out by Transparency Market Research indicates that the global demand for these platforms will increase by 14.8 percent, reaching an estimated $15.30 billion by 2024.

Growing demand for digital commerce platforms

The growing demand in the global market for digital commerce platform is driven by the all-pervasive nature of internet connectivity and the continuous rise in the use of consumer electronics. These factors contribute to both the growth of digital media and the digital commerce sector. The increasing demand for digital commerce platforms worldwide can also be attributed to the evolving nature of cloud computing services, making it much easier for consumers to access digital content.

However, more progressive growth is restricted by numerous factors including the growing security and safety concerns with regards to malware and spyware as well as lack of marketing skills shown by major players in the market.

Currently, North America holds the leading position in the global digital commerce platform market in terms of revenue generation and demand volume. This has been attributed to the massive base of digital media users, the attendant high use of smartphones and devices as well as high-speed internet services and data networks. North America’s retail segment is already a major source of revenue for market players in the industry, while its B2B segment is showing phenomenal growth within the digital commerce platform market.

The dominance of digital commerce platforms

Businesses can no longer ignore the increasing importance/dominance of digital commerce platforms as a sales vector. The everyday demands of modern life mean that there is less and less time for people to spend on nonrevenue generating activities such as shopping, meaning that more and more people will come to appreciate the ease and stress-free nature of online shopping. To stay relevant and competitive, businesses must look for ways of exploiting this trend to improve customers’ shopping experience and protect their customer base.

Increasing popularity of PaaS as a deployment model

Unlike their predecessors, however, the new generation of digital commerce marketplaces will become more localized and industry-specific. Companies want digital commerce platforms that will enable them to solve particular problems for a specific region and/or target customer demographic. As such, they require a digital commerce platform solution that is easy to develop, deploy, use and scale, thus ensuring success and profitability in the long run. Currently, the deployment models for digital commerce platforms are segmented into open source, fully managed Platform as a service (PaaS) and on-premise.

Although each deployment model comes with its advantage and disadvantages, cloud-based PaaS solutions are becoming increasingly popular due to a low total cost of ownership (TCO), capability for Payment Card Industry compliance and security, launching speed, easy integration, and process automation as well as reduced downtime.

UltraServe’s PaaS – SmartStack

The UltraServe digital commerce solutions offers 18 years of industry experience, a 24/7/365 global support team and our leading PaaS solution, SmartStack.

Deploying in 25% of the time, SmartStack controls your AWS Cloud while enabling your data and application (SAP Hybris, Magento, or Adobe Experience Manager). This combination allows for a decreased, risk, time, and money.

 

3 New Digital Commerce Trends