eCommerce Site Modernization

One of the largest web retailers of promotional items featuring corporate logos and marketing campaigns lives and dies based on page ranking and how easy it is for customers to do business with them. Faced with a web platform based on 10-year-old technology, the client was faced with the challenges of keeping up with advances in technology when they were essential “version locked” to their existing platform.

Impact

Our 6-week assessment yielded immediate benefits by showing all of the different systems and their interconnections which go into making up the platform on which the client does business. The web store is one of 5 subsystems which support our client’s business model, the others being Product Management, Customer Relationship Management, Order Management, and the Database. While the first phase targeted the Web Store, phases 2 and 3 focused on re-platforming the other 4 components. This multi-phase approach allowed the client to migrate their business to a modern platform, without jeopardizing their page rankings or
impacting their clients.

 

 

Desired Outcome

Faced with a web platform based on 10-year-old technology, the client was faced with the challenges of keeping up with advances in technology when they were essential “version locked” to their existing platform. As page ranking has become more and more sophisticated, it is starting to lower the rankings of sites with slow response times, and our client was experiencing an erosion of their page ranking, and a subsequent increase in their “per click”  advertising costs. The objective was to quickly re-platform the existing web store to modern architecture, while at the same time preserving existing page ranking.

Our Solution

RCG was selected as the vendor of choice after a 2-month “bake-off” where we competed with an Indian company in completing a 6-week assessment of the AS-IS system and proposed a TO-BE. After a  rigorous evaluation process, during which RCG had to respond to a series of comparisons to the competitor, we were awarded the contract – in part because we proposed a less risky phased approach while our competition proposed a more costly big-bang approach. Our approach first moves the customer-facing functionality to the new platform without changing the back office systems or database schemas. This allows both the old and the new systems to work in parallel. Based on our proven Modernization Solution Development Life Cycle, RCG was able to provide a targeted approach to this migration project. Our 7 step SDLC provides our client with maximum benefit with minimum risk in a reasonable time and cost. The web store is a large system resulting in over 150 Use Cases, and more than 2000 Test Cases being required to cover its functionality. 

Technology 

RCG migrated the web store to our proprietary J2EE framework, with some specific extensions to that framework to support our client’s needs. This framework is based on industry standards, including Java Server Faces, Spring and Hibernate. In addition to leveraging the capabilities of these open source frameworks, the RCG J2EE  framework cuts the number of lines of code required to be and written by a factor of 1.5 to 2.0 – resulting in faster code creation and lower defects.

  • Java Server Faces/ HTML/ Template – Views in an MVC model.
  • Presentation Logic (UI Controller) – Implementation of the UI interaction. Involves processing a request from a user on a browser, calling several business components and creating the data model for the view.
  • Business Components
    • Business logic implementations that are written as reusable components decoupled from the presentation layer.
    • Unlike the legacy framework, the business components will be independent of the presentation logic, and when there is a need to expose functions to other applications, subsystem or external systems, it easy to provide a Web Service adapter on top of the Business Component.
  • Application Framework – Infrastructure classes.
  • Common Components – Common application components such as security components, caching, scheduling frameworks, date functions, and others.
  • Spring Services – Open source framework that offers readily available functions and utilities and that lessen application code.
  • Open Source Components – A set of components that provides persistence service and a single interface to the database.

Key Takeaways 

Undertaking any modernization effort is a major commitment. It is important to focus on three critical areas:

  • Strategy — Identify the road map that maximizes benefit while minimizing risk.
  • Architecture — Design the TO-BE solution architecture to maximize the use of open frameworks that deliver value and sustain long-term success through a robust and maintainable infrastructure.
  • Requirements — The new system should work the same as the old system, full stop. It is rare that all of the functionality of the current system is discovered without doing a detailed
    analysis of the existing code

There are many owners and contributors to a modernization project and it requires true teamwork and commitment to ensure success.  RCG’s methodology includes the client’s key Subject-Matter-Experts as an integral part of the complete solution lifecycle. The assessment and initial proof of concept were so successful, that the client outsourced its production support to RCG as well as requesting RCG to take on projects in improving their existing capabilities.

RCG is providing thought leadership in which new technologies to use and mentoring, best practices and knowledge transfer to the client’s staff.

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