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The Building Blocks to Evolving Fast

According to Alibaba Cloud Intelligence Malaysia’s General Manager, Jordy Cao, recent challenges have left many businesses switching their dependence to the Internet. “Most, if not all of them have realised that to sustain their business, digitalisation and going online is key.”

Jordy Cao

He also observed that there has been a surge of activities online from businesses that are already in the internet company space, especially in the e-commerce segment. It also indicates a new thirst for technology.

The vision to be more than what they currently are, drives this thirst for new technology.

Malaysia’s largest homegrown e-commerce platform, PrestoMall, serves millions of users as well as offers a wide and diverse category of products and services. Group CTO of Presto Group, Erwin Foo shared, “It’s not just e-commerce actually. (PrestoMall) is part of a bigger group, an entire ecosystem that we call Presto Universe.”

It all started about a year ago, when questions about how they can continue to innovate their technology as well as their platform came up. Above all, the burning question was: Is our current infrastructure enough to sustain and also scale the platform accordingly?

Erwin Foo

“We cannot just do it ourselves. Of course, we have the capability to do so, but finding a right partner with us, is also very important,” Erwin said.

Their search for an answer led them to PolarDB, Alibaba Cloud’s database solution. Fast forward to today and Erwin who is fresh from the experience of heterogeneous database migration from a closed source database solution to PolarDB, quips, “I would say it was a very successful migration. Add to it, it was completed in 3 months’ time.”

He shared that the 3 months’ duration to migrate is much faster than the industry’s standard, considering the scale and complexity of heterogeneous database migration that they were dealing with.

Upcoming scale

PrestoMall is unique in the sense that it is the only e-commerce platform now that supports a wide range of different payment modes. “It’s not just credit cards or debit cards or a variety of e-wallets like Boost, Touch ‘n Go and even PrestoMall’s. There are more e-wallets in the pipeline too,” Erwin said when explaining the range of payment modes PrestoMall supports.

A recent major development also is the onboarding of loyalty programmes like BonusLink and Air Asia Big Loyalty.

“To have two platforms come to us actually enlarges the volume and in-flow of traffic. So our platform must be able to sustain and scale according to the growth of the platform,” Erwin pointed out.

With these encouraging developments, Presto does not intend to just stop with these two programmes since there will be more partnerships and features in the works.

Erwin said, “As you can imagine, the traffic will grow… but how do we manage if everything was still based on the previous infrastructure and solutions?”

Alibaba Cloud Malaysia’s Head of Solutions Architect, Lin En Shu shared, “As internet industry customers are facing scalability issues using traditional database, we have tools and expertise to help customers migrate from traditional database into cloud native database and optimise their database performance, because our database experts from Alibaba Cloud have the experience of doing this for our own business. “

Lin En Shu

Building blocks to evolving

Three months to complete a heterogeneous database migration from the e-commerce platform’s previous closed source database is quite a feat, considering the level of scale and sophistication of the platform.

Based on his 20 years of experience, Erwin is fully aware that when it comes to new system adoption and migration or even embedding new partners into PrestoMall’s platform, the issue isn’t about comparing features or the solution.

“It will never work,” he said emphatically. “You have to come from a different angle.”

High on his want list is team commitment, capabilities, solution scalability and a lot of other different factors. And the good news is, the team that worked on the project demonstrated all of that.

Erwin said, “We are not just looking for a solution. We are looking for a long-term solution partner that can evolve and grow together with us.”

The database team from AlibabaCloud who worked with Presto’s team was the same team who handled migration of Alibaba Group’s own database away from a previous solution, having gained invaluable experience in managing Alibaba 11.11 online shopping festivals over the years.

En Shu said, “When Alibaba Group first started, we were using traditional on-premise technology. When our e-commerce business began to grow rapidly, we redefined the architecture of the infrastructure to cloud native technology from ground up because we can no longer scale up and scale out.”

“Our technology evolved over time to meet the demand of our rapidly growing business. Hence we understand very well the challenges of customers in the internet industry, especially e-commerce.”

Erwin noted the expertise Alibaba Cloud team had when planning with his team, based on the complexities and the different scenarios they had.

There were key criteria to meet, for example: Are they able to respond and sit down with us to plan around the completion of the whole thing within the time frame? How do we split the database? How do we do data synchronisation? How do we ensure the data still maintain consistency while the platform maintains high availability with reduced downtime?

“I would say the most important thing is the commitment and capabilities of both teams to plan it out together and implement the solution successfully,” he observed.

Platform performance was also maintained throughout the duration. “Sometimes, shoppers would encounter a bit of slowness, but this was very, very minimum.”

With a powerful new database now, shoppers may notice a more responsive experience. But above all perhaps, the Presto team is enjoying a powerful new cloud-based database which eases maintenance work, and frees up the manpower needed to monitor and manage the whole infrastructure 24 x7.

Erwin noted the new advanced technology his team can now enjoy. “When we do developments and enhance the innovation, we can now move faster.”

From his experience with the PolarDB migration, Erwin said, “That’s why I highly recommend Alibaba Cloud to be our solution partner in the mid-term, as well as long-term.”

Alibaba Cloud is committed to bringing our years of experience and best practices to support the growth of e-commerce business in Malaysia. To learn more about their comprehensive solutions, join their on-demand webinar.


Watch the video of Enterprise IT News’ interview with Alibaba Cloud and PrestoMall.