Otrium moves fashion forward with Cloudflare Zero Trust, application performance, and serverless solutions

Founded in 2015, Amsterdam-based Otrium believes all clothing should be worn. Their purpose is to target excess inventory, a major sustainability issue in the fashion industry. “One in 10 pieces of clothing manufactured goes unsold, gets sent to warehouses, and eventually ends up in landfills,” explains Leander Sikma, Otrium CTO. “Otrium works to address this by giving designer and contemporary fashion brands such as Karl Lagerfeld, Calvin Klein, REISS, Filippa K, Adidas, and Puma an online managed marketplace that connects millions of registered members with their end-of-season collections.”

To increase marketability, Otrium provides their partners’ collections with refreshed descriptions and improved photography. They also harness AI to match inventory on the platform with buyer preferences. In line with their sustainable ethos, the company even repairs returned items to perfect condition in order to give them a second chance on their platform.

Adding further value with their unique Data-Made Fashion concept, Otrium uses their partners' data to take the guesswork out of creating new collections, reduce overstocked fabric, and reproduce popular items. With over 3.7 million members and 400 brand partnerships, Otrium is a win-win proposition for smart consumers and fashion brands alike.

Challenge: Providing strict internal controls while enabling a frictionless shopping experience around the world

Otrium is a 100% cloud-based enterprise with a global presence that serves over 20 markets worldwide. It has an equally diversified remote-first workforce that ranges across Western and Eastern Europe, the US and UK, Asia and South Africa. As a result, the company needed to provide employees with safe, uninterrupted, location-independent access to internal systems while continuing to provide a friction-free user experience.

“It is vital we maintain a reliable IT and security infrastructure,” says Sikma. “Our employees, partners, and customers rely on our technology.”

Otrium initially depended on third-party platforms for hosting and security, but that proved both problematic and inflexible, especially as they extended their global reach. “As we expanded, we quickly outgrew those services,” Sikma explains. Otrium needed more control over their technical infrastructure and the ability to optimize further to meet their technical, security, and business goals. Cloudflare provided a flexible solution that fulfilled Otrium’s requirements as the business continued to evolve.

Immediate success with minimal effort using Cloudflare security and performance solutions

In 2018, Otrium moved their servers to the cloud and selected Cloudflare to enable enhanced content delivery. “It was a logical choice — in some cases, we were already indirectly using Cloudflare through our legacy vendors, and it was a performance and security solution familiar to most of the team,” says Sikma regarding the rationale behind the switch.

The company began with standard security and performance features like Cloudflare DNS, cache, SSL/TLS, and managed rules. “We had immediate success with minimal effort. Cloudflare tools like Rocket Loader immediately reduced our front-end load times to 50% of what our existing tech stack was taking,” Sikma says. “Today, with our more complex single-page architecture and the performance enhancement features Cloudflare offers, we continue to see clear benefits.”

Blocking DDoS and bot traffic with Cloudflare Security Center

As Otrium became more established and their architecture evolved, their security requirements also shifted focus. “DDoS, bots, and individual or automated security penetration are currently our biggest external security concerns,” says Sikma. Cloudflare application security solutions like WAF, DDoS protection, Rate Limiting, and Bot Management keep the Otrium site running smoothly and securely.

“With the launch of the Cloudflare Security Center, our security architects can easily monitor attack surfaces, pinpoint shortcomings, and reduce vulnerabilities,” says Sikma. “It allows us to make continuous improvements on a daily basis.”

Cloudflare currently blocks thousands of significant automated threats to the Otrium platform monthly. “Since we implemented Cloudflare across all of our 30+ domains and subdomains, our cybersecurity has massively improved,” says Sikma. “Cloudflare default features make running a safer infrastructure easy, but you see its true power when you start optimizing rules and functionality to suit your business needs.”

Flexible Cloudflare solutions meets specific business needs

Online fashion retailing is a highly visual endeavor. As a result, Otrium has a vast, ever-changing library of product images that needs to be 100% optimized on a range of devices. In addition, with their multi-country expansion, Otrium needs to automatically direct community members to location- and language-specific sites and payment gateways from their root domain. Both requirements are supported by Cloudflare functionality.

“Because everything we do happens in the cloud, Otrium relies heavily on edge computing features like IP geolocation and image optimizations,” says Sikma, “Cloudflare’s serverless solution makes many of our security challenges easy to resolve, saving us both time and money.”

Cloudflare Zero Trust secures SaaS and internal application access for Otrium’s global workforce

Otrium also deploys Cloudflare to protect their globally distributed workforce. Specifically, Cloudflare Zero Trust secures employees, partners, and vendors accessing corporate applications with identity-aware, granular policies.

Otrium currently has employees, vendors, and partners across 4 continents using Cloudflare to authenticate internally-hosted apps and SaaS apps like Google Workspace.

“Cloudflare Zero Trust provides an extra layer of security to every one of our internal applications that would be exposed on the web,” says Sikma. “The initial configuration only takes a couple of minutes, and you can quickly establish custom rules for each of your applications.”

As next steps to build out their Zero Trust approach, Otrium intends to leverage Cloudflare’s forward proxy capabilities to secure a wider range of SaaS and internal apps, including those hosted in private IP spaces.

“Due to its ease of implementation and high level of configurability, Cloudflare offers many use cases that suit Otrium from both the end user and technical practitioner perspective,” says Sikma.

For Otrium, the support Cloudflare offers is as important as the performance it brings. “The Cloudflare Account team has been really helpful to us,” says Sikma. “They go above and beyond our expectations — they have even helped us conduct a custom proof of concept and collaborate on the product roadmap to solve application access use cases.”

For the future, Otrium plans to continue their security modernization, increase their international reach footprint, and expand their internal security awareness training, underpinned by solutions such as Zero Trust, Cloudflare Tunnel and Workers.

“As we continue to grow, Otrium will leverage Cloudflare further to keep our cloud infrastructure safe and secure,” Sikma concludes.

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Key Results
  • Cloudflare Zero Trust provides secure internal connectivity across 4 continents between Otrium employees, 400 partner brands, and their SaaS infrastructure

  • The Cloudflare application performance suite reduced Otrium's front-end page load times by 50%

  • Using Cloudflare Workers, Otrium saves time and money by hosting, optimizing, and serving their entire catalog of images from a single copy on the edge

Cloudflare Zero Trust provides an extra layer of security to every one of our internal applications that would be exposed on the web. The initial configuration only takes a couple of minutes, and you can quickly establish custom rules for each of your applications.

Leander Sikma

As we continue to grow, Otrium will leverage Cloudflare further to keep our cloud infrastructure safe and secure.

Leander Sikma