Smartbox Scales Out its Gift Experience with Nutanix

Online Retailer Migrates To Hybrid Multicloud Infrastructure To Deliver Tailored Shopping Experience Customers Demand

Business Need

A seamless omnichannel customer experience is a must-have for any modern online retailer, but at Smartbox the company’s legacy IT infrastructure lacked the scalability and agility required to achieve that aim. It also fell short when it came to the oversight needed for managers to keep control of costs and a complete dearth of tools to help developers innovate and further grow the business.

Key Results

Increased scalability Financial accountability Simplified management
On-demand scalability of an agile hybrid multicloud able to cope with the seasonal peaks and troughs of an online retail business Full visibility and control of both private and public cloud costs using Nutanix Cloud Manager Single point of management for all physical and virtual infrastructure including databases using the Nutanix Database Service

By switching to a Nutanix hybrid cloud infrastructure we’ve taken back control of our IT, allowing us to further delight our customers by enabling developers to innovate, managers to manage and the business to deliver on expansion plans across Europe.

Paul Cash
Director IT Operations, Smartbox Group


Offering tailored experiences, and memories to customers across Europe, Smartbox serves 11 countries, distributing over 6.5 million gift experiences annually alongside a unique brand of gift boxes sold through a mix of retail partners and online stores. The sheer scale of this operation demands IT able to deliver, not only constant uptime, but the scalability to cope with seasonal peaks and troughs. Demands the company’s existing infrastructure was struggling to meet.

“Our existing systems were unable to support our vision for the business, explains Paul Cash, Director IT Operations at Smartbox. “That meant taking drastic action to enable us to, not only, continue to delight our customers but deliver further expansion across Europe”

Beyond that core requirement the company was looking also for visibility, particularly from a cost perspective, across both the data centre and a growing number of cloud resources. Added to which it was looking to deliver scale-out DevOps capabilities to enable developers to innovate freely without having to worry about the availability of IT resources or capacity.


To meet these challenges Smartbox has replaced its legacy infrastructure with a hybrid solution, moving its eCommerce storefront to AWS and remaining workloads to the Nutanix Cloud Platform and AHV hypervisor. This has reduced the footprint within its co-location datacentre from twelve down to just a single equipment rack as well as providing much needed extra flexibility, including the potential to burst workloads to the public cloud at peak times moving forward.

Smartbox is also using Nutanix Cloud Manager to better understand what is being spent on both its on-premise and public cloud infrastructure with the aim of implementing a charge-back model to apportion costs to the relevant budget holders.

Additionally, Nutanix Era is helping Smartbox simplify database management across its many websites and database platforms, whilst Nutanix Prism Pro supports automated scaling and management across the entire estate.

Customer Outcome

The switch over to the Nutanix infrastructure was very straightforward, delivering an immediate and significant performance uplift plus, because of the reduced footprint, much lower costs in terms of datacentre power and cooling.

According to Paul Cash, however, the most significant benefits from a business point of view come from the ability to see what’s going on across the entire IT estate.

“Tools like Nutanix Cloud Manager are a huge help when we're looking for ways to develop our product roadmap and plan for future capacity. It lets us predict how much a development will cost and model how it's going to look all the way from concept through to production. We can also do a real-time analysis between public cloud and on-premise deployment, make decisions on those figures and bring new products and services to market far quicker than ever before.”

On the wider management front the single Nutanix Prism Pro interface has considerably lightened the support load, as has the decision to include the Nutanix Database Service (previously called Nutanix Era) as part of the solution.

“We have a very complex mixture of database engines which, previously, needed different skill sets and different management tools,” commented Cash. “Having a single unified interface has done away with those requirements which, while it doesn’t turn us all into database experts, is a huge step forward when it comes to keeping the database lights on and resolving day to day issues as quickly as possible.”

Next Steps

Alongside plans to roll out new services, the company plans to leverage its Nutanix investment by creating a self-service portal where developers can spin up changes to its sites, add promotional offerings, and create new products, without having to wait for IT to approve requests every time. This, Cash believes, will allow the business to act on opportunities more proactively as well as adapt to customers’ needs and deliver the tailored experiences they now routinely expect.