ATG, Hybris, Intershop and Others: Why Monolithic Commerce Platforms Are Frozen in Time

In this talk at a recent Microservices Meetup in Berlin, Kelly Goetsch talks about how many of today’s commerce websites are still running on technology which is more than 20 years old – with very obvious downsides.

Transcript:

So, if we look at traditional commerce platforms, they all started in 95, 96, or 97. It’s 22 years old at this point. It’s old enough you can buy a drink for it in the US. These are old platforms, they are frozen in time, they are monolithic databases. You deploy them to Sun boxes, they are pretty antiquated and even the newer commerce platforms on the market – you look at Demandware for example, it’s just hosted Intershop. So we see a lot of that in the industry and I think it’s pretty ridiculous how old these platforms are but we are nearing the end of the lifecycle of this platforms today.

Just a little remembrance of why 95 was important – this is Walmart.com in 95 and 96, and you can see right there, this is the world that these commerce platforms are built for. They were built for a web-only world, and if we look at what was happening back then, Java and JavaScript were brand new in Netscape in 1996, and Mark Zuckerberg was in elementary school. Mobile phones had a break-through 10-digit numeric display, so it’s a very different world than we are used to today.

If you look at commerce, it was approached very differently. So, there was the in-store, we are going to sell stuff and put it in a warehouse and then eventually put it out in some stores. In the late 90’s early 2000’s, retail executives said we need some commerce, so they set up a whole separate team, and they said go out and buy or build a platform of some sort and what you end up with is this weird split.

So on this side, there’s an analytics platform, and on this side, there’s AB testing over here, there’s AB testing over here, there’s an inventory system of record here, inventory here. So you end up with this weird split, and that’s a consequence of how commerce was thought of, it’s something off to the side, it’s hey you ten people go out and build this which is a really weird way to approach it if you think about it.

And if you look at the technology of the day, the technology is very different, so 95 it was very centralized, monolithic, on-premise, very waterfall. Annual releases were not unheard of, and were actually still very common into the 2000’s which is crazy, I mean, who does that? In 2017, beard styles have changed a little bit, but it’s a very different world that we live in today, it’s very distributed, it’s decentralized. People release to production many times a day – the process and the technology is completely different than what we are used to.

Take a look at our Microservices information page to find out how modern architecture and cloud-based development are key to meeting the demands of today’s consumers.

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