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Platform9's Kubernetes-as-a-Service Powers AI Startup Norna's Retail Fashion Technology

Platform9 announced that Norna, a leading applied artificial intelligence company, experienced a ten-fold productivity improvement and a 78% total cost of operations (TCO) reduction after implementing Platform9's Managed Kubernetes-as-a-Service to power the company's retail fashion AI technology. Norna's unique AI-driven service helps fashion retailers with assortment planning and pricing through near real-time insights into changes in competitor pricing and offerings.

Norna turned to Platform9 to solve two major challenges the company was facing in using a public cloud platform - the rapidly escalating costs for its public cloud based infrastructure and the high demands on the team's time to manage its Kubernetes infrastructure. Platform9's Managed Kubernetes-as-a-Service provided Norna with the simplest and fastest path to running its production, cloud-native data harvesting, and processing applications, enabling Norna to quickly deploy Kubernetes clusters with a rich set of pre-built, cloud-native services and infrastructure plug-ins. Rather than having to spend valuable engineering cycles on Kubernetes platform operations, Norna is now able to focus on its mission of becoming the world leader in applied AI.

"As AI specialists, we cannot have in-house talent spending time becoming production Kubernetes experts," said Jonas Saric, founder and CEO of Norna. "Platform9 removed our Kubernetes production bottlenecks while providing us with outstanding support. Our team knows that Kubernetes expertise is always available, so we're confident that their production environment will be stable. We wouldn't have survived if we hadn't made the transition to Platform9."

Since utilizing Platform9 Managed KaaS, Norna significantly improved its customer service, reaching 99.98% uptime for its Kubernetes clusters after a 90% reduction in unplanned downtime. The 78% reduction in Norna's overall TCO for Kubernetes is attributed to a combination of workload repatriation from the public cloud, reducing cloud costs by 50%, and operations productivity gains by leveraging Platform9's hyperscale automation.

"Prior to Platform9, we would use valuable time and resources trying to solve the operational issues that come with managing Kubernetes," said Ying Liu, CTO of Norna. "By eliminating this burden, Platform9 allowed us to concentrate solely on developing applied AI that helps our retail fashion customers stay ahead of the competition."
Norna's applied AI technology stack uses Kubeflow, Tensorflow, and Pytorch, and its AI approach includes two types of artificial neural networks - LSTMs (Long short-term memory networks, a form of recurrent neural network (RNN)) and CNNs (convolutional neural networks) for image analysis. Norna captures data at a SKU and geographic market level, scraping millions of web pages each week, and applies ML techniques to create a standardized dataset with over 1,700 item attributes, allowing retailers to accurately understand the market price of fashion products. The data helps fashion retailers to compete on an equal footing with much larger data-driven retailers such as Amazon, Europe's Zalando, and China's Shein.

"At Platform9, we support our managed KaaS entirely with Certified Kubernetes Administrators (CKAs) and provide the ease of public clouds with all the control of an in-house deployment," said Sirish Raghuram, CEO of Platform9. "We are thrilled to be working with Norna to ensure ease-of-use, strong support, and a fully managed service model to provide the safety and coverage that Norna needs to run their business."

Published Thursday, September 16, 2021 4:39 PM by David Marshall
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