The containerization of ASICS's B2B application within Azure
In this case study, Haider Lasani, senior B2B Full Stack Developer at ASICS America Corporation, talks about collaborating with Eurofiber Cloud Infra in converting ASICS’s B2B web application to containers and implementing Azure Kubernetes Services.
ASICS is a Japanese manufacturer of sports shoes and sportswear and one of the top five largest producers of sports equipment and accessories in the world. In 2019, the Dutch head office in Hoofddorp moved to new premises. ‘We seized this opportunity to move the centralised data centre located there to the cloud,’ says Lasani. The move proceeded in two phases. In the first phase, everything from the data centre in Hoofddorp and the backup data centre in Enschede was transferred to AM3 and AM5, two data centres at Equinix in Amsterdam. In the second phase, the link to Azure was established.
At the end of the second phase, the old data centres could shut up shop. We then decided not to migrate every system to the cloud but to leave some behind at Equinix. Also, Germany hosts SAP systems to which ASICS wants to create a secure connection.’ In these arrangements, Eurofiber Cloud Infra Cloud Gateway serves as a lynchpin: it enables ASICS to securely access its applications in the public cloud, as well as the backup systems at Equinix and the SAP system in Germany. Via the gateway, cloud providers worldwide, including Azure and AWS, can easily be opened up. This infrastructure is scaleable, stable as well as secure and can be expanded without limit.
To receive orders from distributors and wholesalers in SAP’s ERP system, ASICS uses the B2B application, among others. Via this web app, developed in-house, distributors and wholesalers can do such things as see which products they can buy, place an order, check stock in real time and track the status of orders. The application also offers support to customer service and customer sales teams, who via B2B can take care of their account, discount and management of the sales organisation. In the past few years, the platform grew so enormously that it was about time to tackle its architecture.
Modernizing and centralizing the application server
‘In the old situation, the development environment ran on a local server with Windows 10, the acceptance environment on a Windows 2012 server and the production environment on a Windows 2008 server. That worked fine when B2B was still operating on a small scale, but the more countries began to use it, the more problems it created. Windows updates brought the system to a standstill and we had to make backups manually. There was a lack of RAM so the system was not scaleable. Because we were dependent on WAMP software, because services were dependent on the operating system and because an outdated version of Windows prevented us from installing any PHP Framework upgrades, we had little control over service management. Running the local server and maintaining Windows servers generated considerable overheads.’
It was therefore high time to modernise and centralise the big application server carrying B2B. ‘We already had some idea how to set about it, namely via the containerisation of the server. This turned out to be a major challenge raising many questions. How were we going to split up the application in such a way that it would be easily scaleable in the future? And on which container platform were those containers going to run?’
“We already had some idea how to set about it, namely via the containerization of the server”.
Implementing Azure Kubernetes services and containerization
Eurofiber Cloud Infra embarked on its course of action with an application analysis. Which external systems does the application communicate with and what are the possibilities to set up the application in Azure Kubernetes Services (AKS)? ‘We had as yet no idea what Kubernetes was. Together with Eurofiber Cloud Infra, our development team then created and tested a proof of concept. This enabled us to try out whether the app could run in containers and whether we could put these on the Azure container platform. It was very pleasant to collaborate with Eurofiber Cloud Infra on this as a single team.’
“Together with Eurofiber Cloud Infra, our development team then created and tested a proof of concept”.
The next project was to put the successful version of the concept into production. ‘This process passed off quickly because the environment, though complex, had already been built by Eurofiber Cloud Infra's DevOps team in the test environment to be fully automated. To run the same configuration in production as well, only a few parameters had to be adjusted.’ And the automation of infrastructure deployment generates even more benefits: an unambiguous approach for ASICS, a smaller chance of errors occurring, and less time needed to make adjustments in the system.
A global platform
B2B is currently running successfully on Azure’s container platform. ‘First we were dependent on the system but fortunately it’s now the reverse. We have regained control. It was a quite a big job but you should see it as an investment. Since then, our uptime has risen to 99.99999 per cent and our productivity is much higher. Maintenance and upgrades of the system are taken care of by Azure so that saves us a great deal of time and money.
And thanks to container technology, we now have an application that can grow along with our ambition. That’s why it has been selected as the platform that we will now roll out worldwide. B2B may once have started as a small in-house project but with deployment in 28 countries, it has now grown into one