eCommerce is now four decades old. The first eCommerce company was Boston Computer Exchange, an online marketplace for the buying and selling of computers. In the early days organizations were challenged to digitize their catalogs and serve the end user with a fast, secure, and reliable digital shopping experience. Websites would crash, transactions would time out, or catalog searches would produce inferior results.
From the early days of eCommerce to the hyperscale environments we see in service today, there are many variations for architecting the data center to support the workload. Today, organizations have the option to be “born online,” for example, Chewy and Etsy, leveraging a hyperscaler for IaaS or PaaS. Other organizations may choose to build their platform on-premises but with a “cloud-like” architecture–leveraging the efficiencies learned from the hyperscalers.
Whichever the case, in this industry time is money. A mere 100-millisecond delay in transaction time or page loading time can hurt conversion rates by as much as 7 percent. Think about that, if you’re handling 5000 transactions per hour, that’s a potential of 350 lost transactions. If an average transaction is $120, that’s a potential loss of $42,000 an hour! Ouch. Try explaining that to the CFO.
There’s a lot to consider in today’s eCommerce businesses, but if you get the platform architecture wrong, it has to potential to make a huge impact on your success. There are many aspects of data center architecture to take into consideration that can impact various aspects of your operations, from performance to security. Below I compile some of the most important cloud storage considerations for eCommerce to consider when architecting your platform whether it’s on-premises or in the public cloud.
Infrastructure that introduces latency results in poor user experience and the potential for lost transactions
- Inconsistent Performance: Online retailers often experience varying performance levels due to shared resources in a multi-tenant environment, leading to potential fluctuations in response times for customer-facing applications.
- Latency Issues: High latency can result from data transfer between the servers and the storage, negatively impacting the overall customer user experience.
- Performance Bottlenecks: Direct Attached Storage (DAS) architectures may encounter performance bottlenecks, especially as the number of connected devices increases. This can result in uneven performance distribution and challenges in optimizing storage performance.
Poor planning of resources, or not planning for sufficient scale, can result in downtime and lost transactions
- Unpredictable Demand: Online retailers may struggle to predict and accommodate sudden spikes in traffic during peak seasons or promotional events.
- Limited Scalability: With a DAS model, scaling resources in real-time to meet demand can be challenging. When additional storage is needed, it typically involves physically adding more storage devices to the server. This process can become cumbersome and may require downtime.
Managing cloud storage costs for unpredictable and spiky workloads
- Unpredictable Costs: Cloud storage costs can be dynamic and influenced by factors such as data transfer, storage, and compute resources. Online retailers need effective strategies to manage and optimize costs, preventing unexpected financial burdens.
Ensuring your customers’ transaction data is secure is critical
- Data Security: Protecting sensitive customer data and ensuring compliance with regulations like GDPR and PCI DSS are critical. Online retailers must implement robust security measures to prevent data breaches and unauthorized access.
- Identity and Access Management: Managing user access and permissions across a distributed cloud environment requires careful attention to avoid security vulnerabilities.
- Data Protection: Implementing comprehensive data protection mechanisms, such as RAID configurations, can add complexity. Ensuring data integrity and recoverability in case of failures may require intricate setups.
Storage resources should be flexible enough to provision dynamically and allocated to where and when they are needed
- Siloed Resources: DAS lacks the flexibility to easily share storage resources among multiple servers. This limitation can hinder workload mobility and make it challenging to adapt to changing business requirements.
Integration can be complicated in multi-cloud models
- Application Integration: Integrating existing on-premises applications with cloud services can be complex. Compatibility issues, data migration, and ensuring seamless workflows are common integration challenges.
- Multi-Cloud Complexity: Online retailers leveraging multiple cloud providers may face integration challenges in managing diverse services and ensuring interoperability.
Nothing less than 100% reliability and 0% downtime is acceptable
- Service Outages: service outages can impact the availability of online retail platforms, resulting in downtime, lost sales, and damage to the brand’s reputation.
- Limited High Availability: Achieving high availability with DAS can be complex. In the event of a server failure, data accessibility may be compromised. Implementing redundancy and failover mechanisms can add complexity to the overall architecture.
Global eCommerce can be complicated by regulatory requirements
- Data Residency and Sovereignty: Compliance with regulations related to data residency and sovereignty can be a challenge, especially when dealing with customer data that may have geographical restrictions.
Complex architectures introduce complexity and oversight costs
- Complexity of Cloud Services: The vast array of ala carte data services on the public cloud can lead to complexity in managing and optimizing the storage architecture. Ensuring that the architecture meets performance requirements while remaining cost-effective is a balancing act.
- Data Management Complexity: DAS often lacks centralized management capabilities, making tasks such as data backup, replication, and snapshot management more complex. Coordinating these activities across multiple servers can lead to inconsistencies.
- Dependency on Storage Supplier: From proprietary formats, protocols, or management tools that are unique to the supplier, overreliance on a specific cloud storage provider [hardware or cloud] can lead to vendor lock-in, limiting the retailer’s ability to switch providers easily. This can impact flexibility and negotiation power.
Addressing these challenges requires a strategic approach, including careful planning, continuous monitoring, and adopting best practices in cloud storage architecture and management. To mitigate these challenges, avoid the pitfalls, and ensure a more efficient, and reliable platform online retailers should consider modern cloud storage as a platform for eCommerce workloads.
Lightbits Cloud Storage for eCommerce
Whether your eCommerce platform is built with public cloud providers or you’re building on-premises, Lightbits has a cloud storage solution for you. For businesses building their own eCommerce infrastructure, Lightbits enables you to build an economical, high-performance data platform that can scale easily to meet business growth and unpredictable user demand. Lightbits delivers software-defined, disaggregated storage clusters built on the power of NVMe® over TCP (NVMe/TCP).
With Lightbits cloud storage for eCommerce on AWS or Azure, you don’t need to overpay for resources you’re not using or remember to throttle up services for peak sales periods and then down again after.
And the Lightbits software licenses can be ported across environments, including on-premises or hybrid clouds for the ultimate flexibility.