MetaPack keeps its growing business on track

Moving software delivery into the cloud with IBM and Critical Impact

Published on 01-May-2013

"Working with Critical Impact and IBM on this project has been a great experience. We have gained so much more than a new IT platform – we have developed a whole ecosystem of collaboration and support." - Shiran Liyanage, Head of Marketing, MetaPack

Customer:
MetaPack

Industry:
Computer Services

Deployment country:
United Kingdom

Solution:
Enabling Business Flexibility, High Availability , Virtualization, Virtualization - Server, Virtualization - Storage

IBM Business Partner:
Critical Impact Limited

Overview

MetaPack offers software solutions that help hundreds of online retailers to automate and optimize the customer delivery experience, including more than 70 of the UK’s top 100 retailers. Founded in 1999, the company employs some 100 people at offices in London and Hamburg, and works with partners based all over the world.

Business need:
After launching a new software-as-a-service delivery model, MetaPack wanted to improve the reliability and flexibility of its IT environment to guarantee top levels of service to a growing client base.

Solution:
MetaPack worked with Critical Impact to develop a flexible cloud platform for hosting its software solutions, based on IBM® BladeCenter® and System x® 3650 class servers, and IBM Storwize® V7000.

Benefits:
IBM hardware provides a solid basis for new cloud services, helping fuel substantial business growth in recent years. Virtualized infrastructure enables greater flexibility and agility.

Case Study

MetaPack offers software solutions that help hundreds of online retailers to automate and optimize the customer delivery experience, including more than 70 of the UK’s top 100 retailers. Founded in 1999, the company employs some 100 people at offices in London and Hamburg, and works with partners based all over the world.

Meeting modern consumers’ demands
The rapid growth of the internet and mobile technology has brought about profound changes to the retail landscape, shifting the balance of power from suppliers and retailers to well-connected shoppers, who expect a high-quality, consistent experience across multiple retail channels.

Shiran Liyanage, Head of Marketing at MetaPack, elaborates: “For online retailers, drawing traffic to their site is only half the battle – it is just as critical to ensure that customers come to regard the site as their primary destination of choice when next shopping online. To achieve this, sellers must provide buyers with the highest-quality experience possible, from browsing and product purchase to delivery and returns.”

Ensuring a seamless delivery experience
Many consumers now consider their delivery experience to be almost as important as the product itself when making a purchase decision. Not only are buyers expecting fast delivery and wanting it for free, they are also looking for the most convenient delivery option for their needs, whether it be home delivery or collection from store, depot or lockbox.

For retailers, there are considerable gains to be made if they get the delivery experience right – according to the 2012 IMRG Valuing Home Delivery Review, 77.4 percent of customers will re-purchase if their delivery experience was good. On the other hand, the cost of getting delivery wrong can be significant.

“At MetaPack we recognize that properly managing the delivery experience is a huge undertaking for retailers, and it is getting more challenging as international trade grows and products are shipped locally from manufacturer direct to customer,” states Shiran Liyanage. “That’s why our software is designed to take a lot of the complexity out of the process. By connecting shippers with all parcel carriers, alternative drop-off, collection and return solutions, we help to make delivery more cost-effective and convenient for both buyers and sellers.”

The MetaPack platform allows retailers to offer shoppers the latest and most suitable range of delivery options, identifies the best carrier service for each delivery and provides full visibility and control over the process. The result is more efficient supply chain operations, stronger carrier relationships and better customer service.

Staying on top of booming demand
Online retailers have been quick to see the value of MetaPack’s delivery management software, fueling a boom in demand for the company’s product offerings. With more and more clients looking to adopt its software, MetaPack took the opportunity to adapt its business strategy and decided to offer its solutions on a full Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) basis.

Shiran Liyanage explains: “As the online retail market continued to grow, and more companies caught on to the value offered by our products, we realized that we needed to develop a more flexible software delivery model if we were to keep up with rising demand. Bringing our software services to the cloud was the perfect solution.”

Joining forces with Critical Impact and IBM
Having made the decision to move to a cloud delivery model, MetaPack realized that it needed to undertake a considerable infrastructure upgrade if it was to guarantee top service for an expanding client base. The company turned to long-term IT service provider and IBM Business Partner Critical Impact for help in managing the journey to a more versatile and resilient IT environment.

Critical Impact worked closely with MetaPack’s delivery service and technical teams to design a solution that best fit the company’s ways of working and business objectives. The Critical Impact team recommended IBM as the one company whose hardware systems offered the most complete solution for MetaPack’s needs.

“Initially, we were a bit apprehensive about engaging with a technology giant like IBM – as a small company we couldn’t help but feel intimidated by IBM’s sheer scale,” admits Shiran Liyanage. “Critical Impact helped to prove that these fears were unfounded – they were instrumental in bridging the gap between ourselves and IBM. Not only did Critical Impact help us to find the right solution with IBM, they fostered a very positive relationship that will help us along our growth curve and beyond.”

Optimized IT infrastructure
Critical Impact worked with MetaPack to design and build a highly available, scalable platform for hosting customer applications in the cloud. An IBM BladeCenter E chassis, featuring BladeCenter HS22 servers, provides a flexible foundation for application delivery, and IBM System x3650 class servers are used for hosting associated databases. The IBM servers are virtualized with VMware vSphere, the first operating system specifically designed for cloud deployments.

Graham Moon, Sales Director at Critical Impact, comments: “The value of virtualization is that it supports a more fluid approach to hosting client applications and data. We have helped MetaPack to evolve from a one-client-per-server model to hosting multiple virtual instances on a single server, which allows them to get much more out of fewer hardware systems. They can spin up new clients or add more resources for existing clients quickly and easily, without any service interruptions. This kind of flexibility should prove to be a real advantage as the business grows.”

To help MetaPack break away from a siloed approach to storage, Critical Impact recommended the IBM Storwize V7000 as a strategic storage platform. The virtualized storage environment provides the company with much more efficient utilization of disk space, allowing it to support more client systems with fewer physical resources.

To ensure maximum availability and reliability for customer applications, MetaPack established a dual data center configuration for the new cloud environment. With instantaneous failover capabilities, the company will be able to ensure that customer applications are kept up and running 24/7, no matter what.

Fueling business growth
The IBM solution provides MetaPack with a resilient platform for enabling cloud services that has the versatility to keep pace with changing requirements as the company continues to experience dramatic growth.

“Transforming our business strategy and moving to a cloud delivery model has fueled phenomenal growth – in the past few years the business has expanded exponentially,” says Shiran Liyanage. “This kind of growth would not have been possible without IBM technology providing such a solid backbone for our new SaaS offerings.”

Keeping up with market changes
As the retail landscape continues to evolve, MetaPack can rest assured that its dynamic IBM infrastructure will help the business to guarantee reliable, effective service for a growing customer base.

“Currently, around 20 percent of all online retail in the UK relies on our systems, meaning that MetaPack software helps to ensure a smooth delivery process for some 120 million parcels each year,” explains Shiran Liyanage. “The stakes are incredibly high – with so many customers trusting us to get the delivery experience right, we need systems that are completely and utterly reliable. Critical Impact has helped us to do just that by building a rock-solid IBM infrastructure that allows us to guarantee top service levels for our clients.”

He concludes: “Working with Critical Impact and IBM on this project has been a great experience. We have gained so much more than a new IT platform – we have developed a whole ecosystem of collaboration and support. This will be instrumental in supporting our business as it continues to grow, and serving our retail clients as the market evolves.”

Products and services used

IBM products and services that were used in this case study.

Hardware:
BladeCenter, BladeCenter E Chassis, BladeCenter HS22, Storage: Storwize V7000, System x, System x: System x3650 M3

Legal Information

© Copyright IBM Corporation 2013 IBM United Kingdom Limited PO Box 41, North Harbour Portsmouth Hampshire, PO6 3AU Produced in the United Kingdom May 2013 IBM, the IBM logo, ibm.com, BladeCenter, Storwize and System x are trademarks of International Business Machines Corp., registered in many jurisdictions worldwide. Other product and service names might be trademarks of IBM or other companies. A current list of IBM trademarks is available on the web at: www.ibm.com/legal/copytrade.shtml. IBM and Critical Impact Limited are separate companies and each is responsible for its own products. Neither IBM nor Critical Impact Limited makes any warranties, express or implied, concerning the other’s products. This document is current as of the initial date of publication and may be changed by IBM at any time. Not all offerings are available in every country in which IBM operates. The client examples cited are presented for illustrative purposes only. Actual performance results may vary depending on specific configurations and operating conditions. It is the user’s responsibility to evaluate and verify the operation of any other products or programs with IBM products and programs. THE INFORMATION IN THIS DOCUMENT IS PROVIDED “AS IS” WITHOUT ANY WARRANTY, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, INCLUDING WITHOUT ANY WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY, FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE AND ANY WARRANTY OR CONDITION OF NON-INFRINGEMENT. IBM products are warranted according to the terms and conditions of the agreements under which they are provided.