Ramping up for the happy end of Canada-U.S. drugs controversy

In a bid to boost efficiency and performance in a fiercely competitive market, CanadaDrugs.com has radically revamped its IT systems.

The Winnipeg-based online pharmacy has replaced its legacy systems with an application clustering solution from Emic Networks in San Jose, Calif.

According to CanadaDrugs.com, the new solution – based on open source technology – has increased uptime, and improved order-processing. It also allows capacity to be added on the fly in response to transaction volume spikes.

This is a far cry from the situation only a few months ago when system downtime cost CanadaDrugs around $80,000 a week in terms of lost traffic and revenue, said Emic Networks CEO Eero Teerikorpi.

He said the system crashed for more than an hour at a time each week (an hour of downtime translates into $40,000 in lost revenue).

All that, however, is no more than an unpleasant memory.

CanadaDrugs.com now uses an Emic Application Clustering solution with a MySQL solution at the front end, and a database at the backend.

The application handles the drugstore’s entire workflow – from customer information tracking and order filling to pharmacy review, label printing and shipping.

Teerikorpi said the solution allows the pharmacy to add capacity as required. “[When] demand outgrew their two servers, they added [a third, and later] a fourth.”

CanadaDrugs.com built a scalable, highly available system using Emic Networks’ Application Clustering on top of MySQL and other open source components.

The new set-up allows them to pass added savings to customers without compromising quality at any stage, said an Emic Networks press release.

According to Emic, the solution ensures open source stacks can deliver consistently high capacity and reliable performance.

Emic Networks’ vice-president of Product Marketing and Management, Donna Jeker said the company’s workflow has to be kept up and running so data never becomes inconsistent and no prescription is ever approved without passing through all stages of vetting.

CanadaDrugs.com director of Information Technology Curtis Anderson said no RFP was issued for the IT infrastructure project. “This implementation was actually driven by the software vendor that wrote our custom application, Pharmacy Wire,” Anderson said. They recommended the Emic product, he said.

Anderson said his firm went with that initial recommendation and selected CanadaDrugs.com. It turned out to be a good decision, he said.

“We were looking for secure load balancing and redundancy,” Anderson said. “What we liked about Emic is that it could scale quite easily.” He said if transaction volumes increase so as to overwhelm the backend database, the company can add more capacity and more nodes.

The Emic solution, Anderson said, is so hassle-free that it now takes longer to buy additional product licenses than it does to expand the solution.

Emic Networks has provided middleware solutions based on Open Source technology to companies across the world. These include Securities America based in Omaha, Nebraska; an online credit card authorization company in Tempe, Arizona; and an ISP in Belgium. They all use Emic Networks MySQL database technology for subscription purposes, said Teerikorpi.

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