MercadoLibre (NASDAQ: MELI) was the largest e-commerce platform in Latin America, and the only public “pure internet player” in the region. Although it was enjoying an outstanding performance, its monolithic architecture wouldn’t allow it to continue to be successful in the next decade. The entire platform was rewritten, and every process was changed in order to achieve a much more flexible organization. A new culture was shaped using technical decisions.
A large IT/Product team (several hundreds) was split into many “cells”, interconnected via a REST API. Each cell behaves like a small and independent company, with it’s team, source code, infrastructure, and data. Each cell defines it’s own processes, truing to strike a balance between flexibility and control. The very same APIs cells use for internal communication was opened to the public. In other words, all MercadoLibre front-ends are using the same APIs every 3rd party application is now using.
A complete hierarchy of APIs was built, in order to address specific problems, like the limited broadband of mobile native applications. All back-end and customer service systems were also rebuilt using the same APIs. Every single process was dedesigned in order to be decoupled. For example, the routing process was previously managed by one person using an F5 box. Now these rules are stored in GitHub and everyone can alter them, providing the appropriate testing.
Daniel Rabinovich is CTO and SVP Product of MercadoLibre (NASDAQ: MELI), the largest e-commerce platform in Latin America.
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