Moving to cloud computing
It is not just about improving the underlying technology, there are various business reasons that should drive retailers/e-Commerce players towards the cloud too. Every e-Commerce business these days is under pressure of doing less with more and in such circumstances there’s pressure to maximise the return on investment throughout the entire operation.
Naturally, IT departments have been looking to find means and strategies to improve the bottom line. Increasingly, they are looking at the benefits provided by cloud computing.
In a web application, server performance is measured as the speed at which we can deliver the pages requested by the clients. Most current cloud environments have a concept of scalability, automatic or manual. Using this capability, we can create a setup which will offer the speed required for a minimum number of clients, and increase its performance by scaling it horizontally, as the need arises. This way, you could keep costs to a minimum in the start-up phase, and increase the number of clients the application can serve gradually, as the business picks up speed.
- Applications must be architected for the cloud (decouple components, share nothing architectures)
- Consider mobile & Social APIs
- Horizontal vs vertical scalability – you should take into consideration proactive vs reactive scaling needs – consider anticipated traffic in peak moments, marketing campaigns traffic, etc
- Performance as business requirement – we already know that conversion rates are influenced by website response time. Cloud significantly influences other aspects such as cache at different levels, test cases, measuring performance metrics, server and client performance
- Automate everything: infrastructure as code, configuration and environment management, server provisioning time, no human errors
Cloud benefits in e-Commerce
Cost savings: Initially, this was the most cited reason for a move to the cloud. It’s not necessarily the biggest driver but with the drive towards more with less, it’s always going to be a factor in the move towards cloud. Cloud computing brings natural economies of scale.
Integration: There’s been a move away from siloed applications in the past few years as companies look to build on a more integrated approach.
Investment: This is another oft-cited reason, companies finding it easier to allocate IT resources to an operating expenditure rather than a capital expenditure budget.
Scalability: One of the thorniest challenges facing e-Commerce players is how to cope with peaks and troughs of demand – facing seasonal fluctuations at Christmas time or businesses winning new projects which place high demand on existing infrastructure or even consolidation of businesses through mergers and acquisitions. Previously, the CIO would have had to prepare the infrastructure to cope with peak traffic – even if that meant over-provisioning for about 95 percent of the year. Relying on a cloud-based infrastructure means that organisations are able to cope with these changes with greater flexibility and agility.
Easier software upgrades: Maintaining software is one of the headaches faced by the IT department. Several studies have shown that a large part of IT employees’ days are taken up by this mundane of tasks, leaving very little time for any strategic planning.
Speed: This is perhaps the single most important reason for moving to cloud for e-Commerce players. The time taken to commission, implement and configure services is generally measured in weeks, while a company could use its cloud provider to get services up and running within a matter of hours.
Flexibility: The modern organisation, employees are accessing corporate data from a variety of devices and from a variety of locations. This flexibility can only be made easier by the use of cloud services as they enable IT environments to be dynamic and fluid.
Security: Cloud providers claim they are more secure than on-premise infrastructures, thanks to a combination of economies of scale, more specialised staff and greater emphasis on security.
Resilience without redundancy: Cloud is a less expensive way than handling your own servers and another way to enjoy the cloud’s economies of scale.
Bonus benefit: climate change: By moving to the cloud you are saving energy and you reduce the data centers’ carbon footprint.