The e-commerce platform, founded in 2012, has enjoyed stellar growth. In 2016, n11.com had 250,000 members; today, that number is 13 million.
Rapid growth places tremendous strain on the IT team. Site performance, application delivery, and IT efficiency are critical issues as the business seeks to capitalise on its leadership position. As the site competes with physical and online retailers, and the imminent arrival of international competitors, any lag in the performance can impact corporate reputation and business bottom line.
“We had technical issues with our F5 Web Application Firewall,” says IT Network & Security Manager, Esat Yaşar Çağlayan. “This meant that security levels were not as they should be, and load balancing was not efficient. Plus, there were concerns around ongoing support and renewal costs. We needed to upgrade and wanted to explore alternative options.”
This search took place under a tight deadline. n11 has a major sales event each year, a Black Friday equivalent held on November 11. The event is so successful it can attract up to four times the average site visits.
“Any solution needed to be tested, implemented, and operational well in advance,” says Çağlayan. “November 11 is too important a date for things to go wrong.”
Load balancing with unmatched security
n11 conducted a proof of concept with Citrix ADC (formerly NetScaler ADC), focusing on the load balancing capabilities. Citrix ADC simplifies management for the n11 IT team. Firmware can be easily updated, unused policies quickly identified and removed, and troubleshooting and configurations can be managed centrally.
“Citrix ADC proved ideally suited to a business in our position,” says Çağlayan. “Our traffic volumes are increasing and applications are becoming more complex. Citrix ADC offers performance and scale.”
Performance to meet rapid growth
The Citrix solution was fully tested and operational well ahead of the November 11 event. The day itself surpassed all previous records, with 140,000 concurrent users on the site, compared to a 2017 average of 30,000.
Site performance was maintained throughout. “In e-commerce, an acceptable page loading time is less than two seconds. The faster the page loads, the higher your sales conversions,” says Çağlayan. “We cannot, and did not, slip on this. Citrix ADC eliminated our previous technical issues.”
He expects the growth to continue: “We’re anticipating 15 to 20 percent growth this year, and the Citrix solution can grow as we grow. If we need to expand, it is easy to upgrade the firmware. And the modular aspect of Citrix ADC means we can add new features as required.”
Maximising IT efficiency
Ease-of-use is a recurring theme. Rapid growth requires n11 to maximise its resources, and simplifying IT tasks is a priority.
“Citrix provides a number of benefits in this regard,” says Çağlayan. “We can troubleshoot issues ourselves on the Citrix command line interface very easily. Plus, the Citrix Application Delivery Management (formerly Citrix Management and Analytics System) is straightforward. It’s easy to create our own signatures or edit existing signatures, and identify unused policies to simplify configuration. And the built-in analytics reports are very useful.”
All of this serves to save time and allow Çağlayan to refocus his team on more value-add projects.
The choice of Citrix ADC also fits a wider strategy across n11’s IT function: a move to a more agile, DevOps approach. Indeed, the n11 IT team now has innovation as part of their annual performance targets. Written into their job description, each employee must find and promote new ideas not yet seen in the e-commerce sector.
“We feel like we’re a valued Citrix customer,” says Çağlayan. “Citrix and the local distributor really took ownership of this project.”