Missguided has partnered with Amazon Web Services (AWS) to deploy a cloud hosting platform which can cope with sudden surges in web traffic and orders thanks to its flexible infrastructure.

The fast-fashion retailer replaces around 25% of its range every month and launches many collaborations with big fashion and beauty names.

Missguided's CTO, John Allen, explained how this fashion strategy impacts the e-tailer's infrastructure. "We launched a collaborative range with fashion and beauty influencer Carli Bybel on 19 July 2016. Carli tweeted to announce the range and we immediately experienced 47 times normal peak traffic in a four minute period," he said.

"Clearly that sort of load is unprecedented and the site couldn’t cope. We had planned for this, and were able to activate our visitor prioritisation system, limiting the traffic to 20%. The site didn’t fail because we were stopping traffic but it meant that we were effectively holding people back; customers were not as satisfied, and in some cases they were very dissatisfied. When you’re pursuing a high-octane growth strategy driven by intense days of sales, this impacts the whole business."

This perceived "holding back" of customers could not continue, according to Missguided, which worked with systems integrator, Claranet, to upgrade from its traditional single data centre hosting model.

Allen added: "Given the frequent surges in traffic, we needed a highly scalable and reactive system that would rapidly respond to our promotional events. We recognised that a cloud solution hosted in AWS would address the load, flexibility and adaptability issues. AWS recommended that we talk to Claranet, an AWS Premier Partner who had seen through similar transitions on our technology stack, which includes Magento. We quickly found that Claranet had a very good story to tell, with real world case studies, which clearly demonstrated clear understanding of the platform. They also had the specific expertise and skills necessary, and a common understanding of what a business like ours needs to be successful."

Missguided identified a 12-week period to transition onto the AWS platform, but due to key product launch events had to decrease this timeframe. Claranet managed to complete the migration in half the time, moving around 170 services into AWS within six weeks. All bandwidth and availability issues had been designed out of the solution and the single points of failure were removed. A new disaster recovery system was also put in place.

Claranet also worked with Missguided to build automated bots which simulate the user journey and interact with the website. Should the bots discover a failure in the user journey, an incident service automatically kicks into action.

Following the migration, Carli Bybel and Missguided chose to relaunch the range after the first sold out. The new process ran on the new AWS system with a similar upsurge in traffic. But the new system was able to take every customer order with no need to deploy the queuing system or delay order processing.

Allen said: “The only challenge we had then was whether we have enough product to fulfil the orders – and that’s a great problem to have.”

Missguided has now been able to move onto the Amazon Aurora database engine, taking its maximum database throughput from two million transactions a minute to well in excess of five million, having a direct effect on revenue because it allows the retailer to take all orders without avoidance during its critical high-intensity moments.

Allen added: "As a result of a successful transition, with the help of Claranet, we have already started deploying new trading platforms and back-office systems in AWS. To scale up used to take us anything between four and six weeks to add in servers.

"We can now do that in literally seconds. Claranet were able to take us on that journey and they’ve got a lot of experience in that area. We've now reached a point where strategically we've decided to push as much as possible onto the AWS platform, preferably everything one day, and Claranet are continuing to help us to do that. This relationship has really moved the business forward and it's set us up for something much bigger in the future."