Costa Cruises: a Node.js case study
By Cian O'Maidin

Costa Group, part of the Carnival Group, is one of the world’s largest cruise operators. It has three big brands: Aida, Costa and Costa Asia. The Costa group is now putting digital front and centre of its business growth strategies and is working with nearForm on its process of digital transformation.

As part of this challenge, Costa Group selected Node.js as its language of innovation. Node.js was chosen for two main reasons:

  • Its ability to enable rapid delivery – going from concept to working prototype in a short space of time.
  • Its attractiveness to developers – the principles of rapid delivery and cutting edge technology make for a highly attractive work environment.

One critical element of any transformation of this type is the mechanism that allows features and usability changes to be rapidly developed and deployed to the live environment. nearForm helped Costa to put in place a continuous delivery and deployment pipeline. This pipeline enables quick build-measure-learn cycles, which quickly bring new ideas to the fore and tests them on the market in a very short amount of time. The key to an enhanced digital experience is continuous tuning, which is based on data that is derived from customer interactions. Costa is now operating in a highly agile environment that contributes to a cycle of continuous improvement.

nearForm has helped the project team to strike a difficult balance in this early inception phase of Costa’s digital transformation. Specifically, nearForm has done the following:

  • Helped create an early impact by rapidly implementing the digital vision of Costa product owners, and getting it live and into the hands of Costa consumers. This step often involved ‘disposable’ prototype approaches.
  • Put in place best practices so that quality and maintainability do not suffer during the early period when creating an impact is key. This ensures that as the digital presence matures, technical debt is kept to a minimum. This aspect is crucial because once a digital offering starts to gain traction it must be ready to scale to support high volumes of traffic.

In order to create great digital experiences, it is necessary to attract top-level software architects and developers. Acquiring this talent is one of the challenges that traditional companies face. To build awareness among the developer community of the digital changes at Costa, the company has set up a high-profile digital unit in Hamburg, Germany, headed up by new CDO Rahul Chakkara. Hamburg has a vibrant developer community that actively runs many meet ups and developer events, making it an ideal place to find talented developers.

Costa is actively engaging and supporting this community. The company has adopted Node.js and microservices as the linchpin of its technology platform. Costa now has a rapid delivery profile that is matched by industry heavyweights such as PayPal, Netflix and Walmart.

In order to help Costa Group in the early stages, nearForm’s team worked alongside the digital unit as one team. This ‘single team’ approach was used to help build a great developer culture. This combined team has put in place the foundation that is supporting Costa Group’s move to lead innovator in the digital travel world.

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