by Ganna Shargorodska
E-commerce solutions make a significant part of EPAM customer products. EPAM e-commerce products are implemented in a number of brands, from global heavyweights to smaller local companies. No two customers are the same, they all have different flows, strategies and approaches, but that only makes it more challenging.
Each customer solution delivered by EPAM is a perfectly balanced combination of EPAM expertise, skills and creativity, on one hand, and the smart choice of third-party software products specially designed to achieve certain goals, on the other.
In developing e-commerce products EPAM uses well-reputed and reliable platforms, such as AEM, Oracle Commerce or Hybris. Hybris has been on the e-commerce software market for quite some time, and is now one of the leaders in this industry. It supports omni-channel commerce, product information management, order management solutions, as well as remarketing tools and powerful product search and promotion facilities, thus serving as a solid and reliable platform for developing e-commerce products.
EPAM has been integrating Hybris into its e-commerce scenarios for over 4 years. During this period, more than 40 projects for more than 25 customers have been developed. EPAM hosts an own Hybris Competency Center offering top-quality support and expertise to teams working on Hybris-based projects.
The quantum leap was made when Igal Vainer, Senior Director of ISP Software and Hi-Tech, and Sergii Kononov, Senior Account Manager of ISP Software and Hi-Tech, had the idea of designing a sort of an e-commerce solution builder allowing to quickly put together a complete e-commerce package from the available components. The team opted for the integration of AEM as the front-end component and Hybris as back-end, as they make one of the most reliable e-commerce platforms on the market.
This idea evolved into an entire project, EPAM-FLEX, dedicated specifically to AEM-Hybris integration. One of the challenges which arose before the team was developing a solution for automated implementation and customization of Hybris environments, the so-called accelerator.
Previously, the teams working with Hybris either had to deploy it themselves, which required certain time and labor, or to engage DevOps experts to deploy environments for them, which increased the project cost. In both cases, the actual project development could begin only after the Hybris was up and running, which meant certain delays increasing the time-to-market for the final product.
The accelerator could greatly speed up the process allowing quick and simple deployment of Hybris environments of different types. The developers could start working immediately which would reduce the project costs as well as time and labor consumption.
Grygorii Klymov of the Hybris Competency Center outlined the vision of the scripts of automated Hybris deployment and Andrey Kuznetsov wrote their initial version. Close cooperation with the Hybris Competency Center speeded up the development process greatly, and the automation scripts were completed already within the first week. The initial design included only one server with all Hybris components installed, which in the current implementation became the Hybris Single Mode. Later, Grygorii designed a more stable and powerful configuration with 5 nodes each serving its dedicated purpose. This distributed structure later developed in the Hybris Large Mode.
Another part of the challenge was support of CI/CD processes needed for proper deployment of the Hybris environment. This is when Andrei Mankouski with his 10-year experience in CI/CD development stepped in to create a comprehensive solution in which each Hybris node turned into a Jenkins master/slave. He also suggested the optimal steps to be used in the Chef recipe for Hybris auto-configuration. At that point Hybris was moving to Cloud, and the EPAM-FLEX team invited Stanislav Polchanikov of EPAM Cloud to cover that area.
And then Pavel Veller, CTO of Digital Engagement Practice, took it even one step further. He saw a potential demand for Hybris and suggested making it into a Cloud service. This is when EPAM-FLEX decided to engage the experts of the Cloud Competency Center to help implementing Hybris as a Cloud Service.
When the stable version of the Chef server scripts was available, the EPAM Cloud Team led by Maksym Zinkevych took over and started adapting them to Cloud usage specifics. They decided to incorporate Hybris in the family of EPAM Cloud Services by means of the standard EPAM Cloud tools and used the Maestro Stacks functionality for that purpose.
A special Maestro Stack Template was developed for Hybris deployment. This template contains a set of Hybris-related resources and parameters to be applied during the virtual machine configuration. When the stack is run, it creates and launches a virtual machine with a fully usable Hybris service, configuring the machine image and shape according to the Hybris requirements.
Hybris as a Service can be activated as any other Cloud service via the Maestro CLI. When the activation is complete, the user gets a fully configured scalable environment specially designed for developing state-of-the-art e-commerce solutions.
Hybris as a Service was released for general availability on March 26, 2016. It is the result of brilliant ideas, efficient work and smooth cooperation of several teams. During the development process the EPAM-FLEX team and the EPAM Cloud team were in constant contact with the Hybris Competency Center, the ideas were exchanged immediately, feedback was provided promptly and any issues were cleared within the shortest time possible. The entire process from idea to rollout took about three months.
Creation of Hybris as a Service is an amazing example of what happens when people with different goals and objectives are looking at the same thing and seeing different opportunities. The result is a reliable and flexible solution which is going to serve the purposes of many teams in their projects.
Currently, we register growing interest towards Hybris as a Service among EPAM teams working on e-commerce solutions. The service is already used in some projects, and we expect constructive feedback to continue with further improvements and enhancements.
For details on using Hybris as a Service refer to EPAM Cloud Services guide.