Cloud technologies seem to be a modern trend-they are talked over at all the conferences, that are by some means connected with the Internet, are discussed in business press and on TV. It looks like another modern technological gimmick for Twitter, Facebook, various CRM and ERP systems, eAccountancy etc. Meanwhile, does cloud usage bring any benefit to business sites that do not provide hi-tech services?
In this article I will try to determine the benefits from using the cloud for the most popular business in the Internet – eCommerce. We will try to understand, if there is sense for a webstore owner to consider the possibility of transfer into the cloud.
In a classical data center there is possible such a situation, when there are no sufficient resources, which means the project loses the users who were not able to get access to it. It entails losing profit as well. On the other hand, when the load decreases, vacant resources stand idle, thus expenses for infrastructure support turn out to be wasted.
Let’s calculate lost profit for a hypothetic web-store. On the condition of having 10 customers per hour and average basket cost 100 dollars, one hour of down time will cost 1000 dollars. I’m not even talking about reputational risks – a consumer, who went to the rival during the down time, may never be back again. He also may lure his friends and acquaintances to another site.
Windows Azure allows developers to realize automatic addition and cutting off the resources, if necessary, through the special mechanism of resources management. It goes without saying that the owner of the site can add and cut off the resources manually using special portal of Windows Azure management.
Fatal failure, leading to the loss of all data or even a part of them, can entail eBusiness burst-up. Thus, reliability turns out to be even more important than lost profit from possible down times. In the cloud data duplicate automatically and store on different physical resources to secure the site owner from possible losses. Moreover, clouds allow storing the data even on geographically spaced sites. For example, Windows Azure automatically stores up to three data copies, at the same time it allows distributing data in Europe, America or Asia. It secures the data from serious failures.
When is it worth using the cloud?
1. Periodical load
In case the load happens at some definite time (working/off-hours), or definite days of the week (work days/ weekends), a site always faces the situation of resources idleness, when there are no load peaks. Consequently, it leads to extra expenses on unusable infrastructure.
2. Peaking load
Seasonal sales, holidays, promo actions lead to peaking site loads. Such loads are difficult to be predicted, while losses from possible down times or site irresponsiveness may be really huge.
3. Constant load growth
In case of constant load growth it is necessary to add resources. At the same time if load growth can not be precisely predicted, a site often lacks resources (site down time, failures), or there emerge lots of unusable resources (wasted expenses)
For the most part of simple sites the cloud turns out to be more expensive than a usual hosting. At the same time cloud cost is explained by reliability of storing data, failures security, possibilityof elastic expansion and decrease of usable resources. Actual expenses depend on the site itself, its load characteristics, and can be calculated with the help of TCO Calculator.
Despite being more expensive, cloud hosting turns out to be more reasonable for most web shops, where constant availability and high quality service are really important.
Has anyone already transferred his/her site to the cloud? Please, share your experience and impressions, it would be really interesting to learn!