AAPN Member Fanatics Revamps Cloud Platform, Addressing the Online Unpredictability of Sports Fandom

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During a Chicago Bears debut on Sept. 9 that included a first-half Pick 6, linebacker Khalil Mack’s star began to rise, in real time, as couch-bound fans poured into online apparel retailer Fanatics Inc.

Within an hour after the end of the first half, Khalil Mack merchandise had more sales than the next highest player — Tom Brady — had all day. More than 70% of the Mack sales came from mobile devices.

Fanatics Chief Technology and Product Officer Matt Madrigal, who oversees the technology platform underpinning the company’s portfolio of more than 300 online and offline sites, said he was surprised to see a surge in traffic from the Bears team store, one of the many avenues through which fans can purchase gear.

But the company, whose technology drives the merchandise websites for the NFL, MLB, MLS, NBA, NHL and Nascar, as well as more than 200 college and professional sports teams, was ready. For the last several years, Fanatics has been developing a home-grown cloud platform designed to handle the sometimes predictable, sometimes surprising online traffic spikes associated with fans seeking out their favorite team’s merchandise.

The platform, rolled out in stages since 2016, represents a shift from a single, shared code base to distributed microservices, in which software applications are deployed as a set of independent, reusable services. Using a mix of open source technologies, including the node.js and React frameworks for application development, as well as cloud infrastructure from Amazon.com Inc.’s Amazon Web Services, the platform can use tools such as auto-scaling groups, which automatically spins up more infrastructure if traffic exceeds expectations, as it did in the Khalil Mack scenario.  Read More 

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