Why we had to transform our technical landscape

Increased time-to-market, high maintenance costs and a technical landscape so outdated that SysAdmins would need to run to the nearby datacenter to replace broken hardware. At Ladenzeile, we were faced with an undeniable truth: an urgent need for change. Here’s why we formed a new IT strategy to rebuild our entire platform.

Written by Dirk Hesse, Director of Engineering at Ladenzeile

When I joined Ladenzeile about a year ago, it soon came to my attention that the technical landscape was rather outdated. The application was sitting on a vast MySQL shard and the software was written in a monolithic way. Everything was connected to our item database and changes to fields were done by multiple components living in different teams.

The underlying infrastructure was also very outdated and the whole platform was running on-premise in our own data center. So, when something broke our SysAdmins would have to pick up a disk, controller and go to the local datacenter to replace the parts. And with the age of our hardware, let’s just say that the business was struck by many incidents. This also meant that product development was facing an increased time-to-market combined with high maintenance costs.

I was sure about one thing: we urgently needed to change. And at Ladenzeile, we love change.

As a first step, I began by gathering the bigger picture of how our design system was reflected in our communication structures. According to Conway’s law that any organization will inevitably produce a design whose structure is a copy of the organization’s communication structure, the monolithic platform also results in highly dependent teams. This means that every feature implementation would cause collateral damage to other teams. Product Owners and Agile Coaches would have a hard time building something without causing conflicts to the timelines of other teams.

Yes, I think it was fair to call the given situation a challenging setup, but again: we see a challenge as an opportunity for change. Now where do you go from here? Here’s how we went about it:

From challenge to change

We conducted several workshops and formed a new IT strategy to rebuild the entire platform. Our goal is clear: to build a domain-driven design within a distributed architecture. At the same time, we also want to decouple the dependencies between our teams and therefore consider every domain as stand-alone business units. This helps our time-to-market and supports a continuous deployment cycle on a team level.

So where are we now, you might think? Well, let me put it this way: we’re still in the midst of the beginning but looking at the exciting journey we have ahead of us. My teammates’ motivation and dedication to work on the vision, mission and strategy is something that keeps impressing me a lot. The drive behind our joint journey is what makes me – even more – confident in our success, and what we’re able to achieve together.

When I stepped into my role as Director of Engineering, I joined the company with a diverse background of knowledge and experience in the field. At Ladenzeile, I saw a unique opportunity for me to be part of shaping the future with my passion for product development. Today, I’m still happy about my decision. If you’re looking to join a company where everything is already decided and given, we might not be the ideal fit for you. But if you’re – on the contrary – seeking to continuously learn, have a clear impact and grow in your career to shape the future of online shopping: Ladenzeile is exactly where you want to be.

Curious already? Take a look at our current job openings here.

Meet Dirk

Before stepping into his role as Director of Engineering at Ladenzeile, Dirk has over the past seven years worked in similar roles, driving cloud migrations and technical transformation – always pushing forward cultural and organizational change. With his many experiences with project- and product launches, he has formed multiple teams in different, diverse setups – mostly in agile environments.

“To me, technology is just a tool from which we’re able to drive our business forward.

– Dirk Hesse

Dirk Hesse, Director of Engineering

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