Otto Group

The Otto Group protects its DNS servers and thousands of euros in revenues each minute with Akamai's DNS Security Solution

"With its vast bandwidth and worldwide infrastructure, Akamai simply has superior means of mitigating DNS attacks."

Ralf Kleinfeld , Information Security Officer , Otto Group

The Situation

Founded in 1949, the Otto Group is considered the world’s second-largest online retailer in the end-consumer (B2C) business. The company operates more than 100 online retail sites in over 20 countries in Europe, North and South America as well as Asia. It ranked number one among the top online apparel retailers in 2012, commands 5.8% of the global online apparel/accessories market, and is number 13 on the list of European Mobile 500 merchants, according to Internet Retailer.

For Otto Group, eCommerce is the strongest sales channel in terms of growth, and an essential driver for the future of this multichannel retailer. In fact, while some Otto Group companies generate a significant percentage of their revenues via the web, others generate the entirety of their revenue via the online channel. Specifically, eCommerce accounts for 60% of total company revenues. As a result, the highest levels of website availability and performance are critical.

The Challenge

In 2013, Otto Group saw a flood of DNS requests that were meant to overwhelm its domain name servers. While its Intrusion Prevention System (IPS) was able to block much of this malicious traffic, some online shops experienced hiccups in DNS resolution.

As a result, many shoppers were unable to access some of Otto Group’s biggest revenue- generating sites. According to Ralf Kleinfeld, Information Security Officer in the IT Division at Otto Group, though the companies IT department tweaked internal systems to try to better handle the attacks, the company knew it needed a more efficient, long-term cloud security solution.

The Goals

Otto Group needed to meet three key requirements to support its objectives:

  • Protect against DNS attacks: The company needed to ensure its sites are available at all times, even in the event of web security attacks.
  • Go live quickly: Otto needed a website acceleration solution that could be implemented quickly to avoid losing significant revenues.
  • Free up internal resources: The company wanted its internal web security experts focused on innovative projects that help further the business.

Why Akamai

Going with a Superior DNS Mitigation Solution

The head of software development for Otto GmbH & Co KG had formerly worked at another company that had Akamaized its website. Pleased with the results, he recommended that Otto Group evaluate Akamai’s cloud services. As it turned out, Otto Group was already in discussions with Akamai about potentially using its acceleration services to ensure fast site performance in Germany. Within two days of testing the Akamai Fast DNS service, Otto Group decided to go live with it. “With its vast bandwidth and worldwide infrastructure, Akamai simply has superior means of mitigating DNS attacks,” explains Kleinfeld. Working with a local Akamai engineer, Otto Group’s IT team was able to ensure its DNS servers were being protected by Akamai within hours of signing on for the service.

Realizing Benefits Beyond Secure DNS

Now that DNS attack traffic has been completely blocked by the Akamai Fast DNS service, Otto Group’s largest revenue-generating domain names are realizing 100% uptime. That means these sites are fully available to shoppers, as opposed to the 70-80% availability during the attacks. “We have also seen good performance on average DNS response times,” says Kleinfeld.

By using the proven DNS security service from Akamai, Otto Group benefits in another way. “We are able to focus our security expertise on new projects and consulting with our internal companies, instead of on fighting DNS attacks and ensuring our infrastructure is always up,” continues Kleinfeld.

And with Akamai as its partner, Otto Group is able to more confidently pursue its goal of satisfying constantly growing customer demands for a convenient and inspiring web purchasing experience. “We can trust Akamai to help us deliver the fastest, most available eCommerce sites,” concludes Kleinfeld.

About Otto Group

Founded in Germany in 1949, today the Otto Group is a globally operating retail and services group with around 53,800 employees (as at February 2013). The Group includes 123 major companies and is present in over 20 countries in Europe, North and South America and Asia. Its business activities are grouped into three segments: Multichannel Retail, Financial Services and Service. In the 2012/13 financial year (to 28 February), the Otto Group generated turnover of 11.8 billion euros. It is the largest online retailer for fashion and lifestyle in Europe and the world’s second-largest online retailer in the end-consumer (B2C) business. E-commerce, catalogue sales and over-the-counter retail are the three pillars of the Otto Group’s Multichannel Retail strategy. Worldwide corporate activities and a variety of strategic partnerships and joint ventures provide the Otto Group with excellent opportunities for know-how transfer and leveraging available synergy potential. Group companies operate largely independently, guaranteeing flexibility, customer proximity and optimum target-group appeal in their respective country markets.