Cloud hosting is a loosely defined term that is often used nowadays. Generally, it describes a method of configuring multiple servers in a flexible way that is optimized for:
- Scale: cloud hosting should allow application to quickly scale up and down
- Reliability: cloud hosting should be reliable and secure
- Cost: cloud hosting should be generally affordable
While there are still heated discussions among the experts regarding the exact definition of Cloud hosting and computing, according to Gartner, by 2020 the ‘cloud shift’ will affect more than $1 trillion in IT spending (Reference: http://www.gartner.com/
). This clear trend shows that the use of cloud computing and cloud-based servers will continue to increase in the coming years and the service will get even better.
The rise of Cloud hosting and computing is partly fueled by the recent rise of SaaS (Software as a Service) applications. Cloud based services have greatly influenced businesses small and large worldwide. Most businesses now use Cloud hosting and computing directly or use applications that are Cloud based. We are going to discuss several advantages of utilizing Cloud hosting and computing for building E-commerce businesses in this article.
The Rise of E-commerce
The Internet has made a huge impact on our way of living, how we communicate and connect to others. Honestly, if you take a look around, you’ll see all kinds of businesses employing different forms of E-commerce in their sales channels. The term E-commerce itself is not strictly limited to online physical product stores, it covers a huge range of businesses from online products purchasing to food ordering, hotel reserving and pay per view video streaming.
- Amazon is one of the world biggest online retailers and often used as an example of E-commerce.
- Chownow is one of the recent online food ordering websites.
- Cheapflights compares and offers cheap air tickets to customers around the world.
- To a certain extent, even a B2B website such as this Dubai Company Formation website which offers an online contact form to get a quotation can be considered an E-commerce site.
The majority of E-commerce businesses are individuals and tiny businesses. While they still require a huge set of features to ensure that the business can operate smoothly, they need to start fast and start cheap. This was not possible before the rise of SaaS E-commerce platforms such as Shopify
. Now everyone can own an online store with the minimum cost of less than 20 USD/month.
Cloud services for E-commerce
For businesses that want to build and manage their own E-commerce platforms, the Cloud hosting has irresistible appeals. One of the characteristics of E-commerce business is that it has fluctuating traffic. In the high season, the daily number of visitors can be 10x times of the average number during the low season. Before services such as Amazon AWS comes into reality, scaling the server performance up and down according to current usage demand was not an easy task and website administrators often have to purchase hosting plans that can handle worst case scenarios. This results in a complete waste of resources since the server is not utilized 100% most of the time yet businesses still have to pay for those resources that they don't use. Traditional models also force users to purchase/rent resources by month, which means you cannot just rent the necessary resources for the 2 days weekend sales campaign then drop back to normal on the next Monday to save cost. Cloud computing makes it possible to utilize the exact resources you need to satisfy current demand and only pay for what you use. It allows website administrators to respond well to sudden surge and drop of traffic and plan easier for sales & marketing campaign.
Another positive side effect of Cloud based computing and hosting is High Availability. For E-commerce sites, you cannot afford the website to go down because every offline second is a lost opportunity. The term High Availability basically means that the website or service should be available most if not all the time. This was available before but Cloud services just make it much easier. Most Cloud providers offer the necessary mechanisms to quickly add or remove resources such as computing servers, database storages, and more programmatically and instantly (or with very small delay). This allows software developers and website administrators to quickly react to the issues on the websites/web apps and deploy quick fixes in disaster situations.
Major Cloud hosting and computing providers such as Amazon, Google, and Microsoft have built complete eco systems for their services that allow system admins to pick and choose what they need for their applications conveniently and affordably. Obviously, building and handling the whole infrastructure yourself allow you to save on some cost but Cloud can be a great option to start out and scale up fast. Every sysadmin knows that properly handle the hardware system can be a nightmare, and more and more businesses are relying on the Cloud service providers to handle all of this behind the scene for them. BlueLock CTO, Pat O’Day says that “There’s a lot of churn in the hardware space because of virtualization. Companies are growing tired of having to refresh their IT systems with new hardware every five years. People want to be more mobile, and the cloud is a way to get there. Plus, rapid technology innovation has driven increased competition (think about the rise in artificial intelligence, for example).” (Reference: http://www.csoonline.com/
By utilizing Cloud based services, you can also take advantage of their built-in security and recovery system. This is a perfect solution for small and medium businesses who do not have enough resources to afford in-house IT teams to handle all of these essential tasks for them. Scott Chasin, the CEO, and co-founder of ProtectWise said, “There’s a growing call for security to be treated as a fundamentally basic utility where safety can be assumed. The cloud is the key to enabling this, with benefits like storage options, scalability, and ease of deployment.”(Reference: http://www.csoonline.com/
Obviously, Cloud based services are not for everyone. In many cases, traditional providers can still offer very competitive pricing model and reliable services. If your business does not need the scalability, flexibility and the set of tools that the Cloud based services offer then you should consider utilizing traditional methods to maximize your Returns on Investment. Do not follow the trend blindly, analyze your needs and choose the best solution that fits your requirements or select a mixed solutions that work best for you.