High Availability in a Retail Environment

Working in a global retail environment poses some interesting availability challenges when you have physical Bricks and Mortar stores. I have been thinking about the problem of high availability in this environment for a little while now due to a project I am involved with to harmonise the retail systems used between global groups. It is quite a common problem for an organisation that has grown through acquisition that you have different systems used in different business units, but after a while it makes sense to try and go with a common platform.

This article talks about how this architecture could look and how you can support the staggered roll-out of new Point of Sale features to the store whilst still maintaining high availability.

Logical View

Before I talk about the architecture, I want to cover a scenario first of the end state. Imagine there is a global retail company based in both North America and Europe. Both territories have around 1000 physical bricks and mortar stores. These stores each have a number of tills (cash registers for my American friends). There could be between 2 and 5 tills per store depending on its size. Each till communicates with systems hosted at a centralised location. These systems consist of web services, caching servers and databases. This has been illustrated in the diagram below.

Global Regions, North America and Europe : Logical View
Global Regions, North America and Europe : Logical View

This diagram shows 2 geographic regions. Each Region contains a head office network infrastructure and a store network infrastructure. Both of the global regions are completely separate from each other. There are no shared resources between the two.

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