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Altavia: Moving to the cloud to deliver faster, more reliable service for global retailers

About Altavia

Altavia's mission is to provide leading retail companies and brands with effective marketing, publishing, and sales communication solutions. Founded in 1983, it operates in 45 countries and employs more than 2,500 people.

Industries: Technology
Location: France

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About Linkbynet

Driven by an optimistic and dynamic view of technology, Google Cloud partner Linkbynet delivers tailor-made cloud computing solutions.

By migrating to Google Cloud, Altavia has improved the performance and reliability of its infrastructure, automating operations while empowering its development teams to focus on data-driven solutions.

Google Cloud results

  • Improves the reliability of services for customers by reducing system crashes by up to 90%
  • Reduces latencies by a global average of 30%, delivering faster service for customers
  • Enables automation using managed and serverless services, giving IT teams time to focus on architecture optimization
  • Speeds up project delivery by encouraging developers and system operators to work together more closely

Saves €500,000 in capital expenditure costs

From traditional paper leaflets to personalized recommendations delivered to customers' inboxes, brands now have a wealth of choice when it comes to promoting their products. Altavia helps retailers navigate this multichannel landscape, providing marketing and publishing services that cover everything from in-store and digital communications to print management, production, and implementation. Established in 1983, the family-run French company operates across the world, serving 500 major retail brands every day, including Coca-Cola, Decathlon, L’Oréal, Carrefour, Club Med, and Samsung.

"Our focus is simple: to help our clients increase their sales by helping them improve the quality of their client relations," explains Olivier Nachba, Chief Innovation Officer and CTO at Altavia. "We specialize in the retail sector, offering expert knowledge to help clients optimize their communications across all their channels." Altavia is organized as a federation of business units, each with a strong entrepreneurial culture to create as much added value as possible at each customer contact point, delivering a faster time-to-market and better returns on marketing investment for its clients.

"At Altavia, we're interested in innovation that delivers concrete benefits. We view technology as a tool to do business, to improve our execution, and offer new services to our clients. Those were our strategic goals for our migration to Google Cloud."

Olivier Nachba, Chief Innovation Officer and CTO, Altavia

To achieve these outcomes, Altavia needs to keep the technology underpinning its services up to date. For example, it needs an effective ERP system to manage its printing processes efficiently, optimizing the logistics for production and distribution and using data analysis to understand clients' data. "To help clients sell to their customers, we need to be close to them," says Nachba. "Data is key, as it enables us to understand exactly what their customers are looking for, across multiple channels, and to look forward months or even years into the future."

In 2019, Altavia decided to renew its legacy infrastructure, which required significant investment in hardware to improve its performance and reliability. Nachba saw an opportunity to transform the way IT supports the business by migrating Altavia's application infrastructure to Google Cloud, with the goal of helping teams across the company work in a more dynamic way.

"At Altavia, we're interested in innovation that delivers concrete benefits," explains Nachba. "We view technology as a tool to do business, to improve our execution, and offer new services to our clients. Those were our strategic goals for our migration to Google Cloud."

Choosing a cloud provider to encourage knowledge sharing

Prior to moving to the cloud, Altavia's infrastructure ran on 300 servers located in its headquarters in Paris. The setup dated from 2005, when Altavia first created its digital client services system, and had remained more or less unchanged. However, using physical servers to deploy services was creating challenges for the growing business: the ERP system, which had been developed in-house, suffered weekly crashes, and services for clients in locations such as Japan, Korea, and Canada were significantly slower than for those in Europe.

Nachba believed that migrating to the cloud would help the IT team gain greater visibility over its technological assets and would help different team members work together more efficiently. "When you decide to move to the cloud, it's not just about technology," he says. "It's also about momentum, about training your team and sharing knowledge between developers and system operators."

Altavia's choice of Google Cloud was also partly driven by Nachba's previous experience working with the Google team. "When you have a question, they're there for you," says Nachba. "They’re dedicated to making your project the best it can be and empowering your team, not just to selling you a product."

Partnering with Linkbynet to support and empower developers

Once the migration plan was validated by the executive committee, Altavia looked for a migration partner to provide support and training for the move. "We were undertaking a migration of minds, as well as infrastructure," Nachba jokes.

Altavia chose Linkbynet as its implementation partner, as it felt the team shared a common mindset. "We wanted to work in partnership with a team that would support us, rather than just outsource the migration to consultants," explains Nachba. "Working with Linkbynet has empowered my team. They provide a structured approach, but always respond to the needs of the moment and have played an important role in the success of the migration."

The migration was completed within weeks, with 200 TB of data successfully transferred and internal servers powered down in the first trimester of 2021.

"The time that you gain using a serverless tool such as Cloud Functions is time that you can invest in improving your architecture. It's simple, scalable, and it always works."

Olivier Nachba, Chief Innovation Officer and CTO, Altavia

Freeing up the IT team with fully managed services

Altavia's key applications, an online tool for clients to manage the buying process and their assets, and an internal ERP tool to manage logistics, are now powered by Google Kubernetes Engine. Other applications are hosted on Compute Engine, although Nachba's team is in the process of switching all applications to run on Kubernetes clusters. Data is aggregated on BigQuery, using Pub/Sub to manage asynchronous data ingestion workflows.

According to Nachba, one of the key advantages of working with Google Cloud is the ability to increase automation by making the most of managed services and serverless tools. For example, Altavia uses Cloud SQL as its fully managed SQL database. "I don't want to manage SQL databases any longer," says Nachba. "It's more reliable to use managed services, and the total cost of ownership and reducing security risks makes it preferable." He's also a big fan of Cloud Functions. "The time that you gain using a serverless tool such as Cloud Functions is time that you can invest in improving your architecture," says Nachba. "It's simple, scalable, and it always works."

Finally, for its networking and connectivity, Altavia uses Cloud VPN and Cloud DNS, as well as Cloud Armor to help protect against denial of service and web attacks.

"We're definitely delivering a better service for our clients. We've experienced 90% fewer application crashes in the last trimester, and in terms of performance, we've reduced the global average of latencies by 30%."

Olivier Nachba, Chief Innovation Officer and CTO, Altavia

Delivering a better service for clients wherever they're located

Since the migration, Altavia's IT development and operations teams have been working together more closely. "Working in a DevOps way on Google Cloud enables us to implement new projects faster, as everyone is able to work together to make it happen," says Nachba. "Knowledge is no longer held by one person, which is important."

Switching to Google Cloud enabled the team to update its application architectures, so the number of crashes has also been reduced significantly. "We're definitely delivering a better service for our clients. We've experienced 90% fewer application crashes in the last quarter, and in terms of performance, we've reduced the global average of latencies by 30%," says Nachba. "For clients in distant locations, it's actually closer to a 50% reduction."

Along with migrating the rest of Altavia's applications to GKE, the team is planning to further extend its usage of serverless tools. It's exploring API Gateway as a way of managing its APIs internally, to help business units to become more autonomous. It also wants to use AI to pretrain data models and improve its data analysis capabilities, both internally and externally.

"Now that we've got an infrastructure that functions efficiently, we can focus on creating new tools for our clients," Nachba concludes. "By expanding our Google Cloud knowledge to our teams globally, we’ll secure our global presence and enable Altavia's business units to be closer to their local clients, wherever they are in the world."

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Tell us your challenge. We're here to help.

Contact us

About Altavia

Altavia's mission is to provide leading retail companies and brands with effective marketing, publishing, and sales communication solutions. Founded in 1983, it operates in 45 countries and employs more than 2,500 people.

Industries: Technology
Location: France

About Linkbynet

Driven by an optimistic and dynamic view of technology, Google Cloud partner Linkbynet delivers tailor-made cloud computing solutions.