E-Commerce Innovation in the Cloud

Ferhat Hatay, Senior Manager of Strategy and Innovation, Fujitsu and Victoria Livschitz, Founder & CTO, Grid Dynamics
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Ferhat Hatay, Senior Manager of Strategy and Innovation, Fujitsu

Reasons to Move E-commerce in Cloud

Moving e-commerce operations to the cloud offers a host of business benefits for retailers. These include flexibility, agility, faster time-to-market, lower costs, better performance and scalability, and even stronger security. Retailers face unique challenges like Cyber Monday and other critical seasonal periods of high demand, which may result in degradation of services if not downright failure of systems that can cripple revenue under peak workloads. With a cloud, the infrastructure is consumed as-needed and the capacity can be elastically scaled up and down. The cloud removes the worry that there is not enough infrastructure when a retailer needs it at the most critical time - during the peak use periods. The pay-per-use economic model of the cloud proves much more cost-effective especially considering the typical cyclical capacity needs of retailers. Going with a subscription model ensures retailers don’t have to pay large sums upfront or pay for resources they don’t need or use.

Retailers are continuously racing to try and implement many new ideas and services in a fiercely competitive environment. They however, often, lack the available infrastructure and tools needed to develop, test, and deploy these new features and services. The cloud offers the availability and the agility required to innovate at a much faster pace. In the cloud, getting new servers for a week, a day or even an hour is no big deal. Test environments can be set up just-in-time to run tests, and then torn-down, and re-assembled again for a different group with ease.

Migration from the on-premise datacenters to the cloud may also help for enhanced security in the fight against cyber- terrorism. Dynamic cloud infrastructure eliminates many traditional causes of cyber-penetrations, such as manually configured or misconfigured environments, stale infrastructure that lives long after a part of it had been penetrated, and long response times to recover from a compromised environment.

Benefits Cloud Offers to the Retailers

Digital services are increasingly integral to the shopping experience, making faster time-to-market critical for maintaining a competitive edge. Gaining consumer loyalty requires the ability to experiment with new ideas and quickly develop and deliver new applications and features seamlessly across multiple channels, without hesitation or downtime. The majority of retailers are hampered by manual IT processes and legacy platforms that can hold back innovation by months, or even years. Digitalization enables organizations to act faster in delivering customer value, flexibly adapt to changes, and create and harness intelligence in a new way.

 Retailers should look for solutions that are preconfigured for instantaneous availability, yet remain fully customizable by in-house development teams 

Cloud-based e-commerce platforms that incorporate application management and continuous delivery offer retailers the speed and flexibility they need to innovate, quickly spin up new projects, and push experimental features and applications to production quickly.
 
Challenges in Moving to the Cloud
 
Moving to the cloud can be a complex, time-consuming and costly process. Retailers should look for expert teams and solutions that are open, proven, reliable, optimized, and scalable.

Retailers should select technology and services teams wisely to avoid these common pitfalls:

1. Lack of Expertise and Technical Talent: When moving to the cloud, your team will brave new technology stacks, adopt new tools and learn new processes. They need access to proven technical blueprints, best practices, architects and engineers who have done this before.

2. Time and Costs Required for Integrations and Customizations: Nearly all retailers will require some degree of extension, as well as custom integration with in-house systems and tools. Choosing an e-commerce platform that already integrates best-of-breed technologies reduces time by more than 50 percent.

3. Vendor Lock-in: Oftentimes, enterprise-ready e-commerce solutions lock retailers into a single vendor for applications, infrastructure, datacenter, and managed services. This drives up costs for retailers. Retailers need open systems to easily switch providers if necessary to ensure flexibility and add new technologies in the future.Victoria Livschitz, Founder & CTO, Grid Dynamics

Advantages of Hybrid Cloud

Public cloud solutions while offering significant advantages, they may still push retailers into a single vendor lock-in position for applications, infrastructure, datacenter, and managed services. A compelling hybrid cloud solution that combines the advantages of on-premise and public cloud technologies offers the best factors, such as cost, performance, time-to-market, convenience and extensibility. The hybrid cloud infrastructure allows retailers to perform essential functions and services while bringing new innovations in the areas such as Mobile, Big Data, and IoT to market quickly.

Choosing E-commerce Cloud Platform

While cloud systems these days are very good at handling many kinds of workloads with elasticity and agility, they are sometimes not suitable for delivering key high-performance database services. The data essentially defines the business. No matter what the current business cycle is, the database always remains on and only grows in capacity. Retailers must use systems with the highest reliability and price/performance benefits, as well as the flexible growth capabilities to run the critical database services for their e-commerce platforms to thrive.

Designing, testing, and rolling out software changes is a 24x7 operation for retail engineering teams. Retailers should look for a solution that incorporates on-demand testing environments and continuous delivery, with such technologies that include autonomic application management. This ensures that application environments are created, configured, and changed in response to all pipeline events, or to changes within dynamic cloud environments.

E-commerce platforms, on their own, can be challenging to configure, deploy, tune, manage, and operate by in-house teams, leading to long implementation and upgrade cycles. Retailers should look for solutions that are preconfigured for instantaneous availability, yet remain fully customizable by in-house development teams.Retailers should also look for a solid professional services team to help smooth the transition to the cloud. A retailer should not make a move to the cloud alone without employing teams with the best practices for managing mission-critical digital project.

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