Nike’s Cloud Journey at AWS re:Invent

Murali Narahari
Apr 18, 2019 · 5 min read

Nike has been aggressively marching towards cloud-native, micro-service architecture to enable speed, scale, and stability across the enterprise. Over the last five years, we have re-imagined our entire technology stack using observability, security, reliability, availability, and performance as core principles for software development. With a focus on Agile, CI/CD and DevOps practices, we built autonomous teams organized by domain for speed and agility. The challenges that result from this kind of fundamental shift in our organization have been met head-on by building a strong sense of community to learn and share the latest concepts and techniques in software development.

Nike realized early that technology is a strategic priority — not an afterthought. We carefully examined many areas of our engineering organization where off-the-shelf vendor software was routinely used, and we found that, in many cases, the software did not meet our strategic needs for functionality, security or scale. Our engineering teams quickly pivoted to develop cloud-based software, resulting in cutting-edge applications and platforms that serve at a global scale. We turned to open source solutions in order to move at the speed of changes in technology and to continually innovate. As part of our journey to the cloud, we started utilizing NoSQL, serverless, containers, AI/ML, GraphQL and others. Patterns like CQRS were leveraged to enable scale, while multi-region architectures became a necessity for providing unsurpassed consumer experiences. Considering the size and breadth of the company, several cloud acceleration teams were created to help build a common set of tools and standards for any team to leverage. We quickly built many capabilities in-house for speed and strategic edge, resulting in increased activity and contributions back to the OSS community. You can find our contributions here at Nike OSS.

As part of our journey to the cloud, we took an active role in creating a culture of sharing what we learn, both internally and externally. Creating best practices and tools for all to leverage is important for us, given the size of our technology team. For example, we created charters for coming up with API principles to enable API-first thinking. We encouraged “community of practice (COP)” groups to share ideas, and we promoted concepts of inner sourcing to spread internal knowledge and inspire developers. We hold monthly engineering forums and Tech Talks, where engineers across teams (internally and externally) share their learnings. We have innovation days and hackathons within and across teams to collaborate and concoct new ideas through lighthearted competition. All of this work really propelled teams as they moved to the cloud. It has also helped to attract amazing talent and build best-in-class services.

At re:Invent this year, we were able to share many of our learnings to the wider community. Teams across Nike were proud of what they’d accomplished and excited to share their stories. Below, you can read about and watch videos of the five Nike teams that presented. I hope you enjoy watching them and get some insights into what we’ve done to power our engineering teams at Nike.

How DynamoDB Serves Nike at Scale — Zach Owens and Adam Farrell

In this session, Zach Owens and Adam Farrell discuss how Nike Digital migrated its large clusters of Cassandra and Couchbase to fully-managed DynamoDB tables to reap the benefits of cloud native architecture. They share how Cassandra and Couchbase proved to be operationally challenging for engineering teams and failed to meet the scaling needs of our high-traffic product launches. They also discuss how DynamoDB’s flexible data model allows Nike to focus on innovating for our consumer experiences without managing database clusters. They share best practices learned for how to effectively use DynamoDB’s TTL, Auto Scaling, on-demand backups, point-in-time recovery, and adaptive capacity for applications that require scale, performance, and reliability to meet Nike’s business requirements.

Nike’s Journey to Real-Time Monitoring of its Digital Business — Adam Nutt & Demond Jackson

Nike recognized the need to accelerate its digital transformation and strengthens its connection to consumers through individually-tailored content. The company launched several new digital platforms, including the SNKRS app and NikePlus, which is expected to double in the next three years. Nike relies on AWS to provide personalized apps, better features, up-to-date content and responsive shopping experience for its customers. In this session, Adam and Demond discuss the DevOps culture that empowered the team to measure what matters. They go through the crawl-walk-run journey in the space of observability around digital commerce. Check out Adam’s blog on observability here.

Search at Nike with Amazon Elasticsearch — Andrew Mossbarger

In this presentation, Andrew Mossbarger, Director of Search at Nike Digital Engineering, discusses how Nike digital has leveraged Elasticsearch to enable mission-critical search capabilities for Nike’s online store. This enabled Nike engineers to focus on the business capabilities around search and not worry about the scalability of the underlying platform. Leveraging AWS capabilities around “infrastructure as code” etc., the team was able to move from one deploy every two months to more than two deploys a day. Andrew discusses the solution options that were in front of the team, the reason for choosing Elasticsearch and the architecture upon which Nike’s Search as a Service (SaaS) is built.

Building a Social Graph at Nike with Amazon Neptune — Marc Wangenheim and Aditya Soni

In this session, Marc and Aditya discuss how Nike stepped up its game on Nike’s own social network. Using the Amazon Neptune graph database, Nike is unlocking the possibility for world-class athletes and millions of their followers to have unique Nike experiences. Marc and Aditya showcase Nike’s journey of migrating more than 100 million users from Cassandra to Amazon Neptune, while remaining up and available 24/7.

Nike Retail’s Journey to the Cloud — Barend Kuperus and Murali Narahari

The retail industry is going through an incredible transformation. Customers are more informed than ever and a desire to engage with connected retail experiences through the online, mobile, connected car, connected home, office, etc. In this session, hear Barend and Murali talk about how Nike Retail has leveraged AWS to provide seamless, channel-agnostic consumer journeys that enable speed, stability, and scale to the business. These innovations are part of Nike’s most innovative retail concepts, like Nike’s House of Innovation where consumers can use the Nike app on their own devices to do self-checkout and more.

Nike Engineering

Nike’s software engineers create the future of sport. They innovate retail experiences, connect athletes to the brand and create powerful moments of distinction through the Nike Digital ecosystem.

Murali Narahari

Written by

Director of Engineering, Shared Commerce and Retail, Nike

Nike Engineering

Nike’s software engineers create the future of sport. They innovate retail experiences, connect athletes to the brand and create powerful moments of distinction through the Nike Digital ecosystem.

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