Cloud News & Insights

E-commerce Venture and Cloud Technology – A Case Study

Businessman in glasses looking intently at his laptop with images of various business applications

John Grope, a veteran in e-commerce was running a profitable online venture selling women’s clothing. However, he faced fierce competition from others. It was imperative that he reduce expenses and work with razor thin margins. John had heard of cloud technology from other sources. Though he was skeptical about venturing into new technology, he had no option but to have a closer look at the cloud.

The process of discovery

John Grope was a firm believer in the process of discovery. Though not a technical man himself, he appreciated the nuances of technology well – at least to the extent which affected his business. He also believed that automating processes can considerably reduce manpower requirements and lead to savings.

Automating online server administration

John could easily grasp the advantage of cloud technology as far as automating online server administration was concerned. Obviously, there are different ways in which cloud service providers present their management suite. But overall, the control panel provided by them could be managed by a junior technical staff.

Presently, John had employed four technical staff to oversee the server infrastructure. Managing fifty traditional online dedicated servers needed a senior server administrator and three junior hands for round-the-clock monitoring of server health. The risk of operating with only a single junior staff was unacceptable to John. Last year, just before Christmas, his peak sales period, his online servers had crashed leading to a loss of over ten million dollars in business, which he could ill afford.

The senior server administrator not only looked after the servers but also offered advice on increasing or decreasing number of servers and capacity. John also realized that servers came in different flavors and there was no standardization.  Managing online infrastructure seemed more like a  crazy art than technology.

John was told that cloud technology offered a solution to all his problems. The server instances were standardized and even John could understand the standard configurations. The control panel could be handled by a junior staff since issues like DNS, round robin and addition/ reduction in capacity could be automatically handled without human intervention. Managing four technical staff meant that they needed back-end support for preparing salary statements, accounting, taxes and meeting government statutory requirements. Cost could certainly be slashed if he opted for a cloud offering. On a yearly basis, John calculated that he could save over two million dollars.

Scalability advantage

John Grope knew very well that his was a cyclical business. Sales and profits bulged during Christmas, New Year and Valentines, while it lay supine during other times in the year. This situation created a piquant state of affairs. While his online business could normally make do with only a handful of servers, the time between December and February required more than fifty traditional servers. Scaling up meant paying for additional servers. John could never understand why they required fifty servers and why not forty or thirty. His senior server administrator advised him to err on the side of safety. John believed in the policy of ‘Better safe than sorry’. With his experience he knew that cutting corners could cost him his business.

Load balancing, DNS configuration, capacity of servers and equally complex jargon left him confused. Cloud technology seemed to offer a neat solution.

John also had to figure out how to migrate safety to a cloud environment. Should he go for hybrid configuration? Should John opt for a big cloud service provider like AWS and Microsoft Azure or go for a small provider who will hold his hand while traversing the last mile? I will discuss these important issues in my next post.

Meanwhile, to further understand the dynamics of high availability and scalability, you may refer to GMO Cloud’s high availability page.


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About the Guest Author:

Sankarambadi SrinivasanSankarambadi Srinivasan, ‘Srini’, is a maverick writer, technopreneur, geek and online marketing enthusiast rolled into one. He began his career as a Naval weapon specialist. Later, he sold his maiden venture and became head of an offshore Database administration company in Mumbai. He moved on as Chief Technology Officer of one of the largest online entities, where he led consolidation of 300 online servers and introduced several Web 2.0 initiatives. He holds a Master’s degree in Electronics and Telecommunication.

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