Despite the arrival of the cloud over a decade ago, e-commerce infrastructure (especially in the mid-market) continues to struggle with the physical hardware challenges of dedicated hosting. Some managed hosting providers may offer to help you migrate to the cloud, but you may find yourself either in another static data center, or a heavily marked up public cloud experience that likely isn’t managed well or equipped to take full advantage of everything the cloud offers.
Before you take the plunge into the cloud – is that even possible? – here are a few things to talk to your chosen hosting provider about:
- Uptime: Ask your hosting provider if they scale capacity automatically during traffic surges. What happens when there is a traffic surge that is 10X the usual traffic?Most hosting providers don’t offer predictive auto-scaling – the ability to scale out as your demand increases so you stay ahead of demand, while maintaining 100% availability, consistently fast response times, and only using the resources you need. Most hosting providers will assign you a maximum capacity that you could easily exceed, or reactive auto-scaling with a deteriorated user experience at higher traffic volumes. And all the time you’re not using that capacity, you’re wasting money!
- Performance: While some hosting providers may offer a CDN to help with performance, that’s only one piece of the performance challenge. Ask your hosting provider if they are implementing page and content optimization techniques to optimize web page asset delivery, reduce round trips, and decrease page size? Do they have a solution to automate image management, or are you going to be spending hundreds of hours manually optimizing images for all the devices your customers are using?
- Security: A basic web application firewall (WAF) and DDoS mitigation alone don’t cut it anymore. Sophisticated cyber-attacks are targeting the application backend, and these attacks can be destructive. Ask your hosting provider if they can identify rogue IPs and malicious bots, and block access to your infrastructure. Do they have mechanisms to alert you to any changes in the application or data servers to mitigate the threat of zero-day exploits? How frequently do they install security patches for known vulnerabilities in your e-commerce platform?
- Automation: From migrating an application to setting it up and moving through the different stages of development, staging, and production, traditional hosting providers throw people at the problem. This approach is sub-optimal, time-consuming, and expensive. It also makes it difficult to configure policies, and to slice and dice traffic to analyze shopping behavior as well as abnormal patterns.Ask your hosting provider if application migration, installation, and journey to the cloud can be accomplished with a single click. Can these be done in system time versus people time?
- Provisioning: Ask your hosting provider how they plan to migrate your storefront to the cloud. What provisioning model do they prefer and have expertise in? Most traditional hosting providers use the “lift-and-shift” method of application migration to the cloud as it is cheaper and less time consuming than completely re-architecting an application to make it cloud-native. With lift-and-shift, one can replicate the application in the cloud without modifying its design, or at least making only minor changes. The downside is that this method fails to leverage all the benefits of the cloud, leading to additional incurred costs to run and maintain the application.Adopting an auto-provisioning model instead, whereby the entire application is migrated into the cloud as a software-defined entity versus re-writing it, can save massive amounts of time and resources, while avoiding the limitations associated with lift-and-shift.
- Simplicity: In almost every hosting environment, as you layer on additional features and functionalities, the complexity of your infrastructure increases – leading to maintenance hassles and higher costs. Ask your hosting provider if additional features are provided by them or delivered by their third-party partners. How much time and resources would it take to deploy additional features? How would service issues be resolved and who would be responsible?
In addition to the above, most hosting providers have teams that operate horizontally and lack an in-depth understanding of platforms and applications specific to e-commerce. They are rarely familiar with the nuances of specific e-commerce platforms and their vulnerabilities, making it hard for them to address them from the perspective of hosting, architecture, and security. Is your e-commerce site’s hosting set up to deliver 100% uptime, blazing fast performance, and a phenomenal digital shopping experience to your buyers, while protecting their data from hackers?
If not, it’s time you spoke to the world’s favorite E-commerce Cloud Company!