As we wind down from the holiday shopping season, let’s step back for a moment to consider how cloud computing and electronic payment systems have become an integral part of shopping. When they can’t visit their local brick-and-mortar retailers, many shoppers choose to sit down with their tablet or laptop, surf the web and purchase gifts online. In fact, 2016 was the first year that consumers bought more of their purchases on the web than in stores, according to a survey by United Parcel Service, with 51% buying online.
What’s truly exciting is that the move to cloud computing has leveled the playing field by allowing retailers of all sizes and in all geographic regions to take part in the online holiday buying spree.
Retailing in a virtual world
Retail companies can now virtualize desktop and server computing environments and then place them either in their own data center or into the data center of a cloud service provider (CSP). Some CSPs now offer a number of Software as-a-Service (SaaS) products directly targeting retailers.
Most of these suppliers highlight the following features to entice retailers to join the party:
- Cost Savings — Retailers no longer have to pay for the full cost of systems, software, storage, real estate, data center staff, security, power, cooling and network bandwidth. Cloud computing allows retailers to “lease” just those resources that they actually use, and only for as long as they use it.
- Scalability — Retailers have access to as many virtual systems and as much virtual storage as necessary to address their business requirements. As their needs ramp up during the holiday season, their computing resources can ramp up, too. And as their needs get smaller after the peak season is over, their computing footprint can get smaller. This means that they don’t have to over-provision systems, software, storage and other IT resources to handle fluctuating requirements just for the limited time that they require all those resources (like for last-minute, late-night shoppers). And, they don’t have to have expensive computing capacity sitting around idle the rest of the year.
- Security — The CSP is responsible for the physical security of its data center, so the retailer doesn’t have to “staff up” to support more security at its own facilities. But they do have to pay close attention to the security of their own customer information, applications and data interconnections when moving workloads to the cloud.
- Disaster Recovery — By properly selecting the appropriate cloud services, retailers can make sure their processing and data will move from one cloud to another if there is a network or weather-related problem with their on-premises data centers. They can also replicate data from their own data center to the cloud, and back again.
Interconnection powered e-commerce
Accessing CSPs, either as part of a hybrid or multi-cloud infrastructure, is a critical piece of the cloud-based retail operations puzzle. Since the customer experience is critical, it is wise to make sure that your CSPs are in proximity to digital payment ecosystems and your customers, which ensures low-latency interconnectivity and the greatest performance. A successful implementation may require colocating cloud services near partners and customers in large metro areas on a global basis. And to assure the highest levels of performance, security and reliability, it’s critical to establish high-speed, low-latency direct and secure connections between the cloud services and your e-commerce infrastructure, partners and customers, especially during peak shopping times.
Read “The Home of the Interconnected Cloud – Where Service Providers and Enterprises Meet to Grow and Innovate Together” to learn how direct and secure interconnection to the cloud can increase the success and growth of your business.