FTD Companies: Business is "blooming" on Google Cloud Platform
Monday, June 17, 2019
Posted by: Kaylin Berg
To better compete in the modern world of ecommerce, FTD is focusing its efforts on technology, moving from on-premises data centers to Google Cloud Platform to enable continuous delivery of software and services.
Google Cloud Results
- Accelerated cloud migration just in time for Mother’s Day
- Boosted holiday ecommerce conversion rates beyond expectations
- Enabled same-day new service deployment versus 1 to 2 weeks
- Helped drive culture shift toward continuous delivery and DevOps
- 10x faster service deployment
FTD Companies, Inc. (FTD) has provided floral products and services to consumers for more than a century. Its iconic “Mercury Man” logo is displayed in approximately 35,000 floral shops in over 125 countries, reflecting the widespread popularity of the company’s FTD and Interflora brands. Today, FTD operates a diversified portfolio of brands, including ProFlowers, ProPlants, and Shari’s Berries.
FTD understands that in order to be successful, it must focus its efforts on technology. To continue as a technology leader in the industry, it is becoming necessary for the billion-dollar company to think like a startup and develop innovative new software and services. To move into this new world, however, it needed to get out of its data centers and into the cloud. Based on flexibility, cost, and the variety of managed services available, FTD decided to build a cloud-native architecture on Google Cloud Platform (GCP) to speed development for its new ecommerce sites.
“We couldn’t afford to be held back as we reinvented the company, and we didn’t want to put a Band-Aid on our existing infrastructure,” explains Vamsi Muddada, Chief Technology Officer at FTD Companies. “Once we decided to move to Google Cloud Platform, we never looked back. Our lives became so much simpler.”
Accelerating cloud migration by one year
FTD’s business is seasonal, with peaks every year during the most popular floral and gift-giving holidays, such as Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day. Given the significance of these holidays, it is important for the company to process ecommerce transactions quickly and maximize conversion rates. The business needed FTD’s new cloud infrastructure to be ready in time to take on a portion of the holiday load, so IT enlisted Google Cloud Professional Services for a four-week engagement.
FTD requested that the engagement be hands-on from the beginning, forgoing whiteboard sessions for collaborative GCP administration. “Google consultants recognized that our team is very advanced, and they adapted their approach to make sure we got the most value from our services investment,” says Vamsi. “We got right to work, and the flexibility of Google helped accelerate the project and streamline knowledge transfer.”
At the end of four weeks, FTD had a new architecture design and was ready to move forward. Infrastructure engineers who had no previous experience with GCP were able to confidently use the platform and make a smooth transition.
“Engaging Google Cloud Professional Services was one of the best calls I ever made,” says Vamsi. “In just four weeks, Google helped us design an ecosystem of Google Cloud Platform services architected in the most optimal and cost-effective way. Getting to that point on our own would have taken us a year or more.”
Deploying services 10x faster
FTD now runs a container-based architecture based on Google Kubernetes Engine (GKE), using Terraform by Hashicorp to automate cluster deployment and Stackdriver for monitoring. Data is stored either in Cloud Datastore, a fully managed NoSQL database service for web and mobile applications, or in Cloud SQL MySQL databases.
GKE allows FTD to deploy services 10x faster, accelerating time to market for new software and features. With automated deployment and scaling, developers were able to ramp up quickly and improve their productivity.
“GKE is a beautiful thing,” says Vamsi. “Within a day we can write, build, and spin up a new service that would take us two weeks to deploy on premises and a week to configure with any other cloud provider — and we don’t have to manage the clusters ourselves.”
A gift for Mother’s Day
With help from Google, the cloud infrastructure was ready in time for Mother’s Day. Prior to the holiday, FTD began shifting more of its ecommerce traffic to GCP, testing the performance and resiliency of its new site and cloud architecture. As the anticipated traffic spike hit, FTD increased the traffic shift from one of its major brands over to GCP — and then noticed something unexpected.
“As soon as we started to shift our ecommerce traffic to our new site hosted on Google Cloud Platform, our conversion rate improvements exceeded our initial expectations,” says Vamsi. “We were able to achieve this in such a short time frame due to the development velocity we had achieved with Google Cloud Platform.”
In the past, FTD had to freeze its production sites prior to the holiday to mitigate risk and focus the team on load testing. This year, the company deployed new features right up until Mother’s Day.
“Google Cloud Platform allows us to execute and accelerate our ecommerce strategy, deploying new functionality daily to a multitude of customer channels,” says Vamsi. “As a result, we’re seeing some very noticeable improvements in time to market for new ideas and features.”
Driving cultural change
FTD now follows a continuous integration/continuous delivery (CI/CD) model, using Jenkins to automate portions of the development process to continuously deliver new features and accelerate app innovation. With its CI/CD pipeline on GCP, the company expects to be able to make the most of its seasonal sales peaks, with improved conversion rates and related revenue benefits.
“With Google Cloud Platform, we were able to drive a cultural shift toward continuous integration and DevOps that puts us in a much better position to compete,” says Vamsi. “It’s such a developer-friendly platform that we were able to get buy-in very quickly. Everyone loves working on GCP because it’s so easy.”
This post originally appeared on the FTD blog, here.