An interview with our SVP of Tech

Hi Stefano,
How are you doing today?

I am good thanks. A lot of exciting things going on!

So you’re the SVP of technology at home24. How big is the technology department?

In Europe we have around 100 people working in the technology space. We have people working in Engineering, Data, Infrastructure, Product and ERP.

How long have you been at home24?

I joined in late summer 2011, after working at Zalando and Rocket Internet.

So you must have seen quite a few changes in your time. How has the technology department changed since you first started?

When I started at home24, we had around 7 people in our team. Everyone was very much focused on fixing Magento, which we were using at the time. But it was quite unstable and, as we started to grow as a company, we needed something which we could also scale. So soon after, we started to build our own shop system called “Reboot”. Since then we’ve introduced a lot of new systems and also added some people to support our growth and technical challenges.

So what were the biggest achievements of the tech department department in 2016?

2016 was a very busy year for us. After the acquisition of Fashion For Home we started to integrate with our e-commerce platform which was done in less than 3-4 months. The team worked extremely hard and proved that our platform can scale. Besides that huge project, we also pushed forward with our move towards becoming a cloud native company. We can now say that home24 is running more than 90% of its workloads in the cloud. Everything is (re-)designed for usage in the cloud. With that move we will operate much faster while increasing security and scalability of our platform at the same time. By the end of 2017 we will be a 100% cloud native company running everything in the cloud: e-commerce, ERP and data. To achieve this we’ve started multiple projects. We are basically splitting our legacy PHP down into multiple services (some indie tech guys call that microservices), we’re introducing a brand new SAP system and we’re building an entire new data platform based on a data lake and serverless idea.

Can you briefly describe your tech stack?

Of course it depends in which area we are operating in. In the past we worked very much with PHP and MySQL, mainly driven by the knowledge of the team and the developer market. With our current size and challenges that come with growth, we changed that strategy to adopt scaleable technologies such as Golang, Scala, DynamoDB etc and we’re now pretty much open to every technology (except Fortran :D). When you have a look into our tech radar, you will see that we are quite open-minded and, in some areas, cutting-edge. One of my top priorities is to get our company to be as serverless as possible so we can gain speed and flexibility when it comes to scalability.

From a technical perspective, what are the biggest challenges facing the home24 tech department right now?

This year will be quite demanding for us, because we will introduce a new fulfilment platform (based on the SAP technical stack) and a new data platform based on AWS solutions. This means that we will need to replace a lot of systems including our master data, logistics, finance, purchasing systems and more. We will also have to integrate it with our entire e-commerce platform. For the data platform, we will remove our legacy Microsoft and Targit data warehouse systems and build a new data platform with near real-time capabilities. All these efforts contribute to the goal of having a scalable and stable platform. After years of massive growth we deliberately decided to invest into scalable fulfillment and data platforms to support our company’s growth ambitions for the foreseeable future.

And how are the tech department approaching them?

We’re proud that our tech team consists of a lot of very talented and passionate people – we take a lot of care with our hiring process to ensure we get the right people onboard. As a team we work to break down topics into manageable deliverables reducing complexity and allowing us to plan the best way to deliver solutions. We have dedicated teams who continually focus on delivering the right solutions to our high standards that continually move us towards achieving our company goals and ambitions whilst being mindful of the timelines and costs.

Thank you very much for taking the time to talk to me today. Looking forward to see what 2017 holds for home24 tech.

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