Tuesday, 03 July 2018 21:10

Neto rebuilds in AWS to achieve global goals


Neto, the Australian retail management platform, has big US expansion plans. The business has re-architected its platform on AWS to give the efficiencies and insights needed.

Neto caters to thousands of independent retailers, describing itself as a “retail management platform”. The company says it is the only Australian retail platform offering a complete solution for eCommerce, POS, inventory, fulfilment, and analytics. Neto customers can manage their online store and offline store, as well as their marketplaces on such platforms as Amazon and eBay. 

Neto has about 3000 Australian retailers, with revenues ranging from $250,000 to large well-known companies such as Spotlight, Anaconda and Harris Scarfe.

While Neto has a presence in 16 countries, this is by virtue of the international trading arm of its Australian customers. However, Neto sees the US as its next market. Along with setting up a physical sales and service office in Denver, Colorado, the Australian-based Neto engineering team had to look at the infrastructure and ensure it was ready to operate at global scale.

Neto’s founder and chief executive Ryan Murtagh and vice-president of Engineering, Justin Hennessy, explain they made a decision two years ago to migrate to Amazon Web Services (AWS). This also included rebuilding the infrastructure as code from the ground up In order to ensure resilience and stability to expand globally.

Previously Neto operated from a hybrid environment that included dedicated equipment hosted in RackSpace, as well as using RackSpace Cloud which offered a degree of scalability, but ultimately Neto determined its infrastructure was not scalable and it had too many manual processes.

While some companies move their infrastructure to the cloud via lift-and-shift to relocate the virtual machines, Neto went for a complete re-architecture approach, cloudifying its infrastructure from the ground up. “Lift-and-shift gives short-term wins but costs more long-term,” Murtagh says.

One of Neto’s big drivers for re-architecting was to automate all aspects of pushing code into production, deploying application servers, and other aspects of the tooling.

The rewrite has taken the last two years but the organisation is seeing the benefits already. Previously, Neto had to prepare for a high-traffic event if it knew about it, but now, scalability is integral to the platform. Previously, Neto had disparate testing environments, but now, every environment is identical – anything in staging or UAT mirrors production.

A big mind shift came in the form of a quip from Amazon. “When you move to the cloud it’s like moving from pets to cattle,” Murtagh said. “You don’t care about one single server. You have to make sure the herd was cared for. We have a phoenix server approach now where we don’t change configurations, we just replace. Say we want to add a configuration to a Web server. We make the change and push it into production, putting new infrastructure into play and when it’s healthy we tear down the old one. We can perform maintenance 24x7.”

Neto jumped in with both feet, the duo says. “We want to get value to the customer as soon as possible. Wherever possible we consume Amazon services to achieve the outcome.” This includes Amazon’s machine learning services and Alexa, with proofs-of-concept underway to provide intelligent and voice-powered services.

Neto expects its US presence to be ready from October, with a soft launch in January 2019. The company will exhibit at the Retail Global trade show in Las Vegas during September.


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David M Williams

David has been computing since 1984 where he instantly gravitated to the family Commodore 64. He completed a Bachelor of Computer Science degree from 1990 to 1992, commencing full-time employment as a systems analyst at the end of that year. David subsequently worked as a UNIX Systems Manager, Asia-Pacific technical specialist for an international software company, Business Analyst, IT Manager, and other roles. David has been the Chief Information Officer for national public companies since 2007, delivering IT knowledge and business acumen, seeking to transform the industries within which he works. David is also involved in the user group community, the Australian Computer Society technical advisory boards, and education.



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