Originally set up as an e-commerce extension of the popular brick-and-mortar Alfamart convenience stores in Indonesia, Alfaonline reinvented itself as Alfacart.com, an online store and marketplace connected to more than 13,000 Alfamart outlets across the country. To facilitate this major transformation, the company turned to F5 to help strengthen its application security and web traffic management.
Through its online-to-offline strategy, Alfacart expanded its business model to include a marketplace where merchants can sell products. This was especially revolutionary as the model includes a geographically extensive network of physical stores that serve as collection (for sellers to drop off their products and buyers to return items), delivery, and payment points.
Alfacart reached out with extensive digital marketing to potential customers and ran online promotions to promote its new business model. Consequently, traffic on its site grew tremendously, straining the IT team helmed by Dendy Pramudito, Vice President of Information Technology, Alfacart.
The team had to ensure that Alfacart’s IT infrastructure was able to provide for—and support—the growth in marketplace services. To achieve this, they needed to redesign their data center and refresh all the company’s aging IT equipment.
“Most importantly,” says Dendy, “we needed a technology refresh that could address our current challenges as well as meet future requirements as our business evolves.”
Previously, Alfaonline was hosted in Alfamart’s on-premises data center. However, this original setup was not equipped to support Alfacart’s high-intensity digital marketing and heavy application traffic after the business model change. Alfacart began looking at public cloud options.
The company subsequently built a new web application, Alfacart.com, and deployed it on AWS. In parallel, to help the company improve traffic management and optimize application behavior with sophisticated application delivery controls, the team reached out to F5.
“We tried many products from various ADC vendors but none of them could help solve our problems,” said Dendy. “That was before we did a proof of concept with F5 on AWS. Interestingly, the tests immediately showed that F5 technology was able to meet our demands for application layer load balancing.”
The Alfacart.com team implemented the F5 BIG-IP Local Traffic Manager (LTM). Increased application layer controls improved overall website performance through application behavior intelligence.
Furthermore, Alfacart deployed BIG-IP Application Security Manager (ASM), which protected the site against sophisticated and complex threats while improving application performance.
The current F5-powered Alfacart.com page can handle a large volume of concurrent online transactions. Additionally, it now offers a streamlined process with a single point of delivery and content routing. The optimized site experiences reduced page load times running on lower compute-resource consumption.
F5 BIG-IP LTM allows Alfacart to intelligently manage traffic and ensure that applications are always available and secure. The IT team is especially pleased that they can customize the module using F5 iRules and make adjustments to traffic control and steering to meet specific requirements. Additionally, they now get real-time information about application performance, which allows them to identify and fix problems as they arise.
BIG-IP LTM offers dynamic caching, which allows the Alfacart.com site to cache full HTML pages that seem dynamic in addition to static objects. The capability allows the site to cache many of the promotion pages, so they don’t have to update them frequently. This is a significant improvement as it helps Alfacart.com save on application and database resource consumption.
“When we first tried out the F5 solution, we were amazed that it could take 65,000 transactions on our website with no issue,” commented Dendy. “At its peak, Alfacart.com went up to 65,000 transactions and there was no downtime with the F5 configurations. We have gone as high as 80,000 transactions in two days and it continued to work fine.”
The optimization also means that the system can now manage much larger traffic transactions, maintain fast application traffic, and ensure that Alfacart.com is constantly available.
BIG-IP ASM serves as a web application firewall that actively defends the Alfacart.com site from web attacks. It secures applications against layer 7 DDoS attacks, malicious bot traffic, as well as other application vulnerabilities and online threats.
The module also offers the IT team visibility into web traffic to protect against attacks that blend in with normal web traffic, streaming data feeds, and chat sessions. Notably, it does all this without compromising the site’s performance.