May 18, 2014 by Ozgur Ozden
Cloud Computing is not really new to me. When i was a physics student at university, i was using green screen IBM terminals connected to CERN lab back in 1988. I used to run fortran 77 programs on CERN system, compile them there and get the results in Turkey.
With the help of technological improvements, we have managed to place a Personal Computer, tablet, mobile device, or “internet of things” almost in every household today. After all these improvements we are returning back to almost beginning and redefining cloud computing, trying to integrate into different parts of our life today. Ecommerce is probably one of them and Nelson (2010) describes this penetration as “within five years, 80% of all computing and storage done worldwide could happen ‘in the cloud”.
Some of the systems that we accounted today are actually cloud systems such as Facebook, Gmail, Ebay or Hotmail. Very roughly Cloud computing can be defined as using local servers to store information and and use any kind of device capable of connecting to internet to retrieve or use this information. As Mell (2011) indicated in his article cloud computing can be divided into different layers as: SaaS (Software as a Service), PaaS (Platform as a Service), Iaas (Infrastructure as a Service). Choosing which levels or structure to use for your business is a wide topic for another article.
Advantages:İntegrating or using cloud system as a platform for your ecommerce has many benefits and some of these can be explained as below.
- Start-up Cost: İf you are starting your own ecommerce site you can significantly reduce your cost by using a cloud system. In the cloud you do not need to pay for your own racks, cooling system, power systems, storage devices, network, labour, personnel salaries, cabling i.e your own IT infrastructure, simply use a cloud system which is already there. This might reduce your start up cost up to a certain point. Cloud computing also increases the speed of the implementation of the E-commerce system.
- Scalability, elasticity: Another very important feature of cloud computing is scalability and flexibility of the system. You can adjust your ecommerce needs by selecting extra features from the cloud system. Suppose everything is in place and visitors to your website are increasing everyday so you can increase your traffic limits or adjust your computational needs even on an hourly basis. If you need more space, you can have it there. Or if you are in financial business and you have no traffic on your website on weekends, you can define a different configuration for the weekends and weekdays. All these adjustments reduce your cost.
- Improvements & Security: Improvements, developments patches are done automatically for you. For example according to a report Amazon Web Service (AWS) released around 158 new developments to its customers in 2012 and 280 in 2013 (Amazon Web Services Report, 2013). Also using branded and trusted services like Google, AWS increases the image and reliability of the E-commerce site from the consumer point of view. Backups and disaster recovery is done for you in case of a possible failure.
- Security: is another issue that needs to be addressed extensively. How safe the data will be on the cloud? or crucial information regarding to the business such as financial situation, research and developments plans and strategies should be placed on the cloud or kept in the local server.
Currently cloud computing seem very promising for the future with its advantages despite of its disadvantages. Start-up companies in the line of e commerce definitely need to consider cloud systems.
1- Peter Mell, (2011) Recommendations of the National Institute of Standards and Technology, (online) Available at: http://csrc.nist.gov/publications/nistpubs/800-145/SP800-145.pdf [Accessed at: 28th February 2014]
2- Amazon Web Services Report, (2013) (online) Available at: http://aws.amazon.com/choosing-a-cloud-platform/ [Accessed at: 1st March 2014]
3- Michael R. Nelson (2010) Preparing for the Next Digital Revolution, (online) Available at: http://cirs.georgetown.edu/105256.html [Accessed at: 1st March 2014]
4- Michelle Lee (2012) Cloud Computing Potential for E-Commerce, (Online) Available at: http://it.toolbox.com/blogs/this-is-it/cloud-computing-potential-for-ecommerce-50546 [Accessed at: 28th February 2014]