By Harshad Vagdoda, Head of Innovations & New Engineering – Vinculum
By Bharath S, Sr. Partner Solutions Architect – AWS
Today’s retail customers are tech-savvy and seek convenience and flexibility from the ecommerce ecosystem. Achieving success in this competitive landscape, however, requires a collaborative effort among multiple sellers and marketplaces to tackle various challenges.
Vinculum, a global software provider, plays a vital role in empowering retail customers with its powerful software-as-a-service (SaaS) products that are available for the entire retail value chain. These products offer the following capabilities out of the box:
- Sell on multiple sales channels: Vinculum empowers retailers to expand their reach by integrating with various sales channels, boosting visibility and attracting a wider customer base.
- Real-time view of inventory: Vinculum’s advanced inventory management provides instant access to stock levels across all channels, ensuring accurate stock visibility and seamless order fulfillment.
- Consistency across channels: Vinculum’s solutions maintain consistent branding, pricing, and product information, fostering customer trust and streamlining backend operations.
Vinculum’s Vin eRetail solution provides omnichannel solutions trusted by 500+ brands globally. It offers the capability to syndicate product information and digital assets across various webstores, marketplaces, and other sales channels.
Vin eRetail efficiently manages orders, inventory, and shipping labels across multiple channels while automating warehouse processes. It handles both business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-consumer (B2C) orders, and enables fulfillment from stores, franchisees, and warehouses.
The platform incorporates an automated module for managing returns and reconciling payments from marketplaces. Moreover, it empowers brands to establish a comprehensive marketplace stack, facilitating seller onboarding, commission calculation, and offering dropship, B2B, B2C, and omnichannel fulfillment options.
In this post, we explore how Vinculum transformed its architecture to build a highly scalable, reliable, and resilient SaaS platform for retail customers, processing over 10 million transactions daily with end-to-end observability. By utilizing a multi-tenant, microservices-based architecture on Amazon Web Services (AWS), the platform ensures cost efficiency while accommodating demands of a global customer base, providing a seamless and efficient experience for retailers.
Vinculum is an AWS Specialization Partner and AWS Marketplace Seller with the Retail Competency. It transforms everyday experiences with technology solutions that bring SaaS together with a customer-first perspective to simplify complex retail workflows and for better and faster transactions.
Challenges of Running on Monolithic Architecture
- Monolithic architecture scalability: Scaling individual components independently is difficult, and deploying updates can lead to unintended issues, hindering growth and agility.
- Login and workflow management: Diverse login and workflow systems cause customer experience (CX) issues and security risks. Implementing unified identity and access management (IAM) and centralized workflows enhances user satisfaction and ensures compliance.
- Metadata management for data integration: Resource-intensive data discovery, integration, and security. Consistent schemas and change management are needed for aligning metadata from diverse systems.
- Microservices for scalability and performance: Monolithic apps face bottlenecks and long deployment cycles. Microservices enable flexible scaling, faster deployments, and improved efficiency.
- Availability in monolithic architecture: Single point of failure and limited redundancy cause downtime risks for users.
- Maintenance and upgrades: Managing updates and upgrades while minimizing downtime and disruptions.
- User authentication and authorization: Integrating diverse authentication protocols and security requirements ensure secure login systems and proper access control.
Multi-Tenant Microservices SaaS Architecture
Vinculum has developed a cutting-edge solution leveraging Amazon Elastic Kubernetes Service (Amazon EKS) to address the specific needs of SaaS providers. This approach focuses on building and deploying multi-tenant microservices that align perfectly with clients’ agility, scalability, cost-efficiency, and operational goals, without requiring any radical shifts in development tooling or mindset.
Figure 1 – Vinculum’s 2.0 eRetail architecture.
The key architectural elements of Vinculum’s EKS SaaS solution revolves around robust isolation to prevent cross-tenant access. To achieve multi-tenancy vinculum uses Auth0 to generate a custom tenant ID, which is a combination of organization and customer ID, and create custom claims in Auth0 to hold this information for each user. The organizational ID is stored in Auth0’s user metadata.
After successful user authentication, rules are added to the custom claims to the user’s access token. The SaaS application uses this data to enforce proper authorization and access control, ensuring each tenant’s data remains isolated and secure by adopting a namespace-per-tenant model.
Vinculum ensures each tenant is hosted within a separate, secure namespace, providing clear boundaries and enhanced protection for their sensitive data. By leveraging Auth0’s custom claims, user metadata, and rules, the application can efficiently identify tenants and customers, delivering a personalized experience while maintaining data separation and security.
Vinculum’s architecture provides essential shared services like registration, tenant management, user management.
AWS CodePipeline is used for seamless continuous deployment, empowering SaaS developers with diverse options. The solution enables automated onboarding, including tenant registration, user pool creation, and application service deployment via CodePipeline and AWS CodeBuild, ensuring a scalable and efficient process for introducing new tenants.
Vinculum’s software development approach emphasizes language and technology agnosticism, allowing developers to use diverse programming languages and technology stacks. This flexibility promotes efficiency, adaptability, and future-proofing of their solutions, as well as seamless integration with third-party services and APIs. Vinculum’s commitment to agnosticism empowers businesses to meet evolving demands and seamlessly switch providers when needed.
Scalability and Resilience
Vinculum’s implementation of Amazon EKS brings availability and scalability of critical control plane nodes, empowering businesses with a hassle-free Kubernetes experience. Amazon EKS and AWS Fargate effortlessly manage the scheduling of containers, ensuring high application availability and efficiently storing essential cluster data. Applications are deployed and managed without management overhead of the infrastructure, and improve security through workload isolation.
The Kubernetes Horizontal Pod Autoscaler is used to automatically adjusts the number of PODs in a deployment, replication controller, or replica set based on CPU utilization. Vinculum uses CPU utilization percentage as a parameter for the Autoscaler to measure and scale PODs application in or out to achieve that target. This helps applications to scale out during periods of increased demand.
To achieve high availability and fault tolerance, Vinculum strategically distributes the workloads and databases across multiple AWS Availability Zones (AZs). This strategic deployment guarantees continuous operation, even in the face of unforeseen issues or failures in a single AZ.
Metadata-based configuration fastens the way retail firms list and transact on ecommerce platforms. Retail customers can easily select and configure various products based on predefined templates in the platform according to their specific category, all without the hassle of extensive modifications or complex listing cycles.
Vinculum has a vast repository of products, sub-product categories, and listing templatized in Amazon Aurora, and the integration of Amazon ElastiCache as a caching layer optimizes response time and improving overall performance.
The application ensures logical data isolation between tenants, with tenant-specific data residing in the database. By leveraging this mechanism, customers save time as predefined templates reduce the need to create listings on multiple marketplaces, avoiding duplicity and promoting standardization while maintaining data isolation and improving user experience.
Below is a sample subcategory template available for customers to use for listing across different ecommerce portal.
Figure 2 – Metadata configuration in Vin eRetail.
Vinculum has implemented an advanced observability solution for Amazon EKS using Fluentd, Grafana, and Prometheus. This integration enhances Vinculum’s monitoring capabilities, providing valuable insights into the performance and health of its Kubernetes clusters and applications.
By leveraging Fluentd to collect and structure logs, Grafana for real-time visualizations, and Prometheus for advanced monitoring and custom alerts, Vinculum ensures seamless operations.
Figure 3 – Observability dashboard.
SSO Experience and Nth Level Product Creation Approval Workflows
Vinculum makes logging in faster and easier with single sign-on (SSO) using SAML and Auth0. This allows users to access multiple services quickly without repeated logins, making them more productive and satisfied.
Vinculum’s innovative SSO implementation improves the user experience, making it seamless to move between different platforms and ensuring data security. Its technology makes workflows smoother and users happier when using various services.
Vinculum introduces Nth level product creation approval workflows, enabling businesses to design multi-tiered approval processes tailored for complex hierarchies. This approach allows for smoother and efficient decision-making, ensuring compliance adherence.
Vinculum’s platform architecture redefines approval workflows, offering businesses flexibility to customize product creation processes to specific needs while revolutionizing the landscape and empowering operational excellence.
The Nth level workflow is custom-built using AWS services and Amazon API Gateway to deliver a reliable workflow solution. Custom-developed workflows ensure businesses can create intricate approval processes that precisely match their organizational structures, fostering greater efficiency and control over product creation and management.
The integration of automation into the product suite offers business benefits across functional and non-functional areas. By leveraging these technologies, retailers can achieve increased efficiency and accuracy, leading to improved productivity and enhanced customer experiences.
Furthermore, organizations can realize cost savings, gain valuable data-driven insights, mitigate risks, and establish a competitive advantage. These tangible advantages position retailers for success in the evolving market landscape and pave the way for sustainable growth and innovation.
See the Vinculum listing on AWS Marketplace to get started with Vinculum.
Vinculum – AWS Partner Spotlight
Vinculum is an AWS Partner that transforms everyday experiences with technology solutions, bringing SaaS together with a customer-first perspective to simplify complex retail workflows and for better and faster transactions.