Zappos supports explosive e-commerce growth by using NeuStar's

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Zappos supports explosive e-commerce growth by using NeuStar's Powered By Docstoc
					                                                                                                  CASE STUDY |

                                     Zappos supports explosive e-commerce growth
                                     by using NeuStar’s scalable and secure UltraDNS
                                     Managed DNS Service.

    About Zappos
    Zappos is an online retailer of footwear and other consumer goods, headquartered in Henderson, Nevada. The company
    began selling shoes online in 1999 and has expanded their offering to include jewelry, clothing, eyewear, bags and luggage,
    electronics and housewares.

    Focusing on customer service has been a very successful strategy for Zappos. They state on their website, “Our goal is to
    position Zappos as the online service leader…We want to be the company that provides the absolute best service online –
    not just in shoes, but eventually in any category. This strategy has resulted in stellar growth, with gross merchandise sales
    of $840 million in 2007 and a goal of $1 billion in gross merchandise sales in 2008. They currently have a staff of over 1,600,
    with 30 people in the IT department.

    According to Kris Ongbongan, Zappos’ Systems Manager responsible for network infrastructure and customer-facing servers,
    Zappos needed to operate much more efficiently to support “explosive growth, while delivering on their goal of being the
    online service leader.

    As Zappos grew, their web traffic grew in proportion. On average, Zappos receives two billion hits per week. Mr. Ongbongan
    knew that in order to continue to grow, they would need to put a world-class infrastructure in place so customers could
    quickly and reliably reach their online storefront. Ensuring the availability, reliability, and performance of their
    e-commerce websites were, and continue to be, critical components of the company’s success.

    Mr. Ongbongan says, “Keeping a server up without much traffic isn’t that difficult, but growing and scaling is hard. He
    goes on to say that for their external DNS infrastructure, Zappos “needed something more robust and easier to manage than
    BIND servers” and the other external DNS infrastructure components they had in place. UltraDNS Managed DNS Service
    was the solution Zappos needed to improve robustness and ease of management.

    Until 2003, external DNS management was a one-person effort for Zappos, and they operated only one data center in
    California. They were planning to add two more data centers in 2004 (one in Nevada and one in Kentucky), which would
    greatly increase their operational costs as they would need more resources to manage these new facilities. Doing this would
    also greatly increase the complexity of their DNS infrastructure because Zappos would have to manage substantially more
    hardware and software, and they would have to make sure traffic was always directed to the correct data center.

    Rather than taking on this challenge themselves, Zappos decided to utilize NeuStar’s UltraDNS Managed DNS Service to
    support planned growth and to deliver on their commitment to excellent customer service. Mr. Ongbongan chose NeuStar
    as the outsourcing partner based on three specific criteria: DNS performance; guaranteed uptime (99.999%); and ease of
    use (web based Admin UI). Zappos recognized NeuStar as a pioneer in the DNS space and felt very comfortable entrusting
    this critical infrastructure component to them.

    Zappos now utilizes the UltraDNS Managed DNS Service. This is a hosted solution that ensures increased availability and
    quick resolution times for companies’ external-facing websites and web applications. It is built on a directory services
    platform that consists of strategically placed network nodes across the globe. The nodes form an Oracle database-driven

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                                                                                                        CASE STUDIES

infrastructure that replicates (master to master) globally in near       decrease in performance since outsourcing to UltraDNS. Mr.
real time to ensure that DNS requests are resolved with the              Ongbongan believes that “[they] would have had problems
very latest data.                                                        without UltraDNS Managed DNS Service” .

With a traditional DNS infrastructure, all DNS requests are              He goes on to say that “a DNS failure during the holidays
routed randomly – but with NeuStar’s Managed DNS Service,                                                              ”
                                                                         would be very significant for our bottom line. They experience
requests are routed to the closest available geographic network          sales of $2 to $3 million per day with a record day of $6 million
node. This is achieved through the use of IP ANYCAST along               during the holiday season. In addition to losing sales during a
with proprietary NeuStar technology. This type of geographic             potential outage, Zappos would lose future sales from repeat
routing and redundancy ensures that Zappos will receive the              business. “Half of our customers are repeat customers. We’re
quickest, most accurate DNS responses all day, every day. They           very reliant on them.”
never have to worry about outages for maintenance windows,
resetting DNS during administration procedures, hardware                 Managing external DNS was already becoming difficult when
failures, or any other failure scenario. DNS is always available         the company was small and had only one data center. Even
and always accurate.                                                     then, Zappos “did not have the time to manage BIND patches
                                                                         on a daily basis. The amount of effort and overall complexity
Migrating to the UltraDNS Managed DNS Service was very                   associated with managing external DNS registries and
easy and there was no associated learning curve. According               infrastructure would have increased dramatically. According
to Mr. Ongbongan, all he had to do was “complete a zone pull             to Mr. Ongbongan, Zappos has seen a 60% reduction in time
and have the name registers point to UltraDNS. He estimates              spent making day to day changes. “We went from managing
that “switching over was less than an hour’s work.                                                                 ”
                                                                         multiple servers to managing zero servers. This also means
                                                                         that the DNS infrastructure is now more secure since they
                                                                         no longer fall behind on patches and other upgrades that are
Value                                                                    necessary to protect against DNS Cache Poisoning and other
Mr. Ongbongan described numerous benefits Zappos realized                security threats.
as a result of implementing the UltraDNS Managed DNS
Service. They include:                                                   The UltraDNS Managed DNS Service is an important part of
                                                                         Zappos’ disaster recovery plan. Mr. Ongbongan knows that
•	 Scalability;                                                          his outsourced external DNS management solution will always
•	 Revenue assurance / reliability;                                      be working properly and waiting in the wings while he brings
                                                                         the rest of his e-commerce systems back online because the
•	 Ease of operation; and                                                DNS infrastructure is completely secure and independent
•	 Disaster recovery                                                     from Zappos’ other infrastructure. He also knows that it will
                                                                         be easier to re-route traffic if one of their three data centers
As mentioned above, Zappos has experienced phenomenal
                                                                         should go down because the administration tools make it very
growth since they began operations. UltraDNS Managed
                                                                         easy to redirect the DNS registries. He comments that “DNS
DNS allows Mr. Ongbongan to easily scale the external DNS
                                                                         is one less piece for us to worry about. ”
infrastructure as the company grows and to support spikes
in traffic during the holiday shopping season by using more
UltraDNS Managed DNS Service.                                            Conclusion
If Zappos had kept external DNS management in-house,                     Mr. Ongbongan describes himself as a “very happy customer”
scaling their home grown solution would have been very                   of NeuStar’s UltraDNS Managed DNS Service. It has allowed
difficult. Mr. Ongbongan says that NeuStar UltraDNS provides             Zappos to rapidly grow their business without worrying about
a “much better [external DNS] footprint” than Zappos could               DNS. He knows that the UltraDNS Managed DNS Service
have accomplished with their own solution. He estimates that             provides quality, online experiences for all of their customers
they would have needed to add at least 10 more external DNS              in terms of availability and resolution time.
servers across their three data centers had they not outsourced
                                                                         Zappos also knows they do not need to worry about DNS-
to NeuStar UltraDNS.
                                                                         related outages during the very important holiday shopping
Currently nearly all of Zappos’ sales come from North America.           season. This has a direct impact on the company’s bottom
If, at some point in the future, they decide to focus on                 line by preventing revenue loss and the loss of future, repeat
overseas growth, this will be achievable without adding DNS              business.
infrastructure in foreign data centers. Additionally, overseas
                                                                         A high-quality customer experience, scalability, and revenue
customers would have the same fast resolution time and
                                                                         assurance have all been realized while reducing the internal
availability as customers currently served in North America.
                                                                         effort and complexity associated with managing external DNS
As an e-commerce vendor focusing heavily on customer                                                                                   ”
                                                                         in-house. “At the end of the day, it’s all about piece of mind, Mr.
service, reliability is absolutely critical to Zappos’ success.          Ongbongan says. “That is exactly what NeuStar’s UltraDNS
Zappos has never experienced a DNS related outage or                     Managed DNS Service has delivered.        ”