Future-proofing a monolithic DXP for a better airline customer experience


An airline company encountered performance challenges with their websites powered by a monolithic DXP, negatively impacting their customer experience and financial results. To overcome these issues, began migrating some of their services to WebSight, an event-driven DXP that offers scalability and efficiency. Just with initial recommendation engine migration, WingZZ achieved significant improvements in page loading time at any scale.

The business landscape

Let's consider the case of a fictional airline called  “WingZZ”. The airline industry have in fact an e-commerce structure and is known to be intensely competitive, with customer experience often making the difference between success and stagnation.

Marketing executives at WingZZ have been finding themselves confronting this reality, as they struggled with the performance of their websites powered by a monolith DXP. In an industry marked by fierce competition and rapidly evolving customer expectations, WingZZ ability to provide a seamless and relevant digital experience had a direct bearing on its ticket sales, market standing, and overall financial results.

The Problem

Approached by concerned executives, the IT department at WingZZ has identified several major issues, all originating  from a monolithic DXP architecture:

  1. wingzz.com website was performing unevenly, resulting in slow load times and easy overloading whenever one of the site services was in high demand. This negatively impacted the user experience, SEO results, and overall website conversion rates.

  2. many services within wingzz.com were complex, integrating data from various sources, and depended largely on external data availability

  1. sub-sites (help center, SEO pages, corporate, content-heavy landing pages, travel blog, etc.) were built with varying complexity and logic, contributing to management and optimization challenges.

  2. the implementation of new features, such as a baggage calculator or search function, proved more difficult and time-consuming than it should be.

The site architecture, marked by internal dependencies, was the most significant contributor to these issues. Monoliths scale poorly and impede efficient deployment of individual website components, posing challenges to introducing innovations.

Once adopted, monolithic architectures can be notoriously difficult to replace, or even modernize. The interconnectedness with other systems, challenges in data migration, dependencies on legacy technologies, and impact on business continuity all contribute to the increasing costs and complexity.

To address the pressing performance issues without disrupting too much, the experts at WingZZ have been at first considering the option of scaling by multiplying the platform instances.

Multiplying the monolith DXP: a limited solution

Most monoliths can indeed be scaled with acceptable results by creating separate instances in the cloud for each service. This reduces the chance of one service slowing down another, thereby enhancing overall performance and speed.

However, this approach lacks flexibility and future scalability can come at high costs:

  1. Development risks: constructing a custom solution is resource and time-consuming. Moreover, the approach carries inherent risks - a single incorrect architectural decision can hinder the entire project's success.

  2. Licensing costs: Deploying additional monolith instances calls for more licenses, one for each new production instance.

  3. Infrastructure costs: Every service demands separate servers for various stages, such as development and testing. Furthermore, monolithic applications require considerable resources for operation. This means the majority of servers will need to be fitted with multiple processors and a substantial amount of memory.

  4. Maintenance: Maintaining these servers requires a significant commitment of time from the team, which might detract from other critical tasks.

  5. Integration challenges: Despite being separate instances, monolithic DXPs still need to undergo point-to-point integration. This requirement adds a layer of complexity, making the overall management of these systems more challenging and less efficient. For example - the ability to display the main menu on the sub-page will depend on the availability of an instance hosting the homepage.

Given these limitations, it became crucial for WingZZ to explore alternative approaches and focus on scalability and integration capability in the long term. While monolithic architectures may have served their purpose in the past and possess inherent strengths, transitioning to a more modular solution became a priority.

Addressing performance problems in a non-disruptive way

As a first step, the wingzz.com architects have made a decision to embrace an event-driven approach to improve the performance of their platform. With the introduction of WebSight DXP, they have been able to take the recommendation engine out of the monolith DXP in just under 3 months.

WebSight DXP working on a cluster of containers has provided the architects with the ability to deploy the service on smaller, lightweight machines. The event-driven nature of WebSight has enabled direct access to the assets created within monolith and an internal system for the service functionalities. Thanks to this, whenever an event - asset change - happens, the system automatically initializes its optimization process. The optimized asset is then stored in a location close to the end user. This way, every asset remains readily available. This integration happened without any interference with the main system, or complex point-to-point connections. Service decoupling has successfully eliminated resource competition, decreasing slowdowns on the entire website.

Large-scale content updates

Encouraged by their initial success, the architects at WingZZ decided to take further steps in leveraging the WebSight architecture.

In WebSight DXP, the complete webpage is generated in response to events such as template changes, content updates, or new information from external systems. All of this happens in advance before the user even sends a request to the page, so that the page waits for the user, not the other way around.

This makes it well-suited for high-traffic websites, as the event-driven model can handle a large number of differently sourced events and update the pages in real-time

The next service to be migrated to WebSight were the WingZZ SEO landing pages, designed for users looking for fares for their desired destinations. Users coming to the website from a search engine result expect it to present accurate prices. On the other hand, flight prices change rapidly based on demand. This dynamic pricing required a platform that could efficiently handle frequent offer updates to increase conversion.

WebSight's architecture is highly predisposed for  handling high traffic on such websites without overloading the system. WingZZ’s conversion rate from their SEO landing pages  has grown by two points.  

See exactly how scaling like this works in a hypothetical scenario - test the comparison.

The site load simulator compares WebSight with two of the most popular types of web architecture, demonstrating how each of these will handle changes in availability of external data.

Building for the future

The WebSight real-time DXP allowed WingZZ to embark on a transition towards a more scalable and efficient platform, and expand with data-driven features like personalization, e-commerce or AI-powered chatbots for enhanced customer experience. Overtime, the platform will achieve a proper separation of concern, where CMS is responsible for content management and is one of the sources needed to build relevant digital experiences that engage millions.

The change in architectural approach empowered the airline marketing team to enhance the effectiveness of their marketing campaigns. WebSight faster deployment and scaling of advertising campaigns, facilitates seamless A/B testing and experimentation, and offers abundant opportunities for marketing creativity. Now, WingZZ marketing team can optimize their strategies, deliver impactful campaigns, and stay ahead in a competitive market.