Anchor and the SearchSpring Caper

By November 12, 2015 Case Study

Can fleet save a dame in distress?

The dame introduced herself as Chantele Gibson, Director of Sales for a company called SearchSpring. How she got in my office I didn’t know. But she wasn’t pointing a .45 at me, which made a change.

Chantele—even the name told me she was in the wrong end of town—spilled the facts on SearchSpring. Turns out two brainiacs called Gareth Dismore and Scott Zielinski founded the business in 2007. Today they supply intelligent on-site search services for over 600 online retailers around the world. Better on-site search results means guys like me can find what we want faster. And that means more customers.

Smart. The kind of smart that doesn’t normally seek me out. I knew search engines were putting private detectives like me out of business. I poured a bourbon from the bottle stashed in the filing cabinet. “You got five minutes, lady. Make it good.”

“We operate under the premise that shoppers purchase from retailers that provide the best customer experience,” she said. “Most retailers understand how page speed and uptime impact the bottom line, right?” I nodded. Seemed about right. “But few realise how the right choice of hosting architecture can dramatically impact their team’s ability to develop and improve their site,” she said. “Damn straight, lady. It’s all about choosing the right hosting provider.” I knew only too well. Cheap hosting ain’t cheap
when it breaks.

“Exactly. Working with hosting providers can be a major pain point for many SearchSpring merchants,” said
Chantele, eyeing my bourbon. I found a glass on the desk, wiped the lipstick marks off with my sleeve and poured her a double. She knocked it back in one quick motion before continuing. I fell in love right then.

“Many providers have deployment processes that are either excruciatingly complex or painfully time consuming—sometimes both. And that’s if they even have a deployment process at all. Working with different sets of live, staging and development environments can also complicate our work. Just keeping the various different environments in sync can be challenging enough.”

“Lady, I love how you talk. Makes me feel smarter just for listening.” She ignored me.

“When working with customers who lack a deployment process, we often run into issues with service providers
or developers overriding our changes or breaking our functionality.

“We need a better way.”

The ease with which we can deploy code in different environments is a thing of beauty

Anchor takes the case

“We feel that a stable environment, combined with an easy deployment process, will help our customers to thrive and become more competitive,” Chantele said, the bourbon bottle now empty. She was in the right place. “You want to dramatically improve the development cycles for your retailers. And you don’t want any of those nasty surprises that can happen after a release.”

She nodded. “Of course. So can you help?”

“You need a way to isolate the development, test and production environments with a really solid source code management strategy.” I threw the brochure onto the desk. The cover was stained but I didn’t think she’d notice. “You want Fleet, the new Magento as a service platform from Anchor.”

Chantele picked it up. She was about to lick her finger to turn the page but thought better of it when she saw the stain. As she flicked through, her baby blues grew bigger. “A fully hosted Magento platform. And it has the ability to easily turn on key features like full page cache, or drop in a caching proxy like Varnish, with the push of a button. How intriguing!”

I’d just earned my fee.

Searching for answers

A few weeks later and Chantele was happy. SearchSpring had partnered with Anchor and Fleet was already making things easier. Time to open a new bottle.

“Compared to a self-hosted Magento system, setting up on Fleet was a bit of a change at first. But once we began to understand the deployment process, it was beautiful. The ease with which we can deploy code in different environments is a thing of beauty.”

Chantele told me how Fleet protected SearchSpring and its clients from the usual troublemakers. “The Github-based deployment process is great. It means service providers and developers can’t override our changes or break our functionality.”

“Working on Fleet servers allows our engineering team to build features for clients while following the same workflow we use on our own internal tools. Our developers love it because they can clone a production environment and start writing code right away without having to do all of that fiddly setup work.”

I poured her another bourbon so she’d take a breath. She gulped it down and smiled at me. “No other hosting
provider we’ve ever worked with does this.”

I just winked and handed her my expenses.

No other hosting provider we've ever worked with does this

Chantele was still talking as I moved her towards the door. “Anchor was a huge help. The engineering
team had quite a few really in-depth questions about systems and architecture and they were able to answer them very quickly.” She didn’t need to persuade me.

“I get it,” I said. “Managing a web hosting infrastructure is complicated. Makes sense to bring in a fully-managed hosting team that really digs Magento, like the Anchor gang.” If I didn’t get this dame out of my office fast, I was in danger of Billy the Shiv meeting her on the stairs.

“We’re so excited to partner with Anchor because they can solve so many infrastructure challenges for our Magento users. They have a great team and the two company cultures align perfectly.” I tried to close the door but she stuck her foot in the gap. This dame didn’t know when to quit! “We just want to help more Magento users get the benefits of a robust hosting platform, integrated with intelligent on-site search.”

And with that she smiled, removed her foot and was gone.

Fleet: Magento as a service Anchor. True detective tales.

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This is Steve. One of the awesomely brilliant (and well-bearded) Anchorites.

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