Is Your Head in the Cloud?


Most people understand the cloud computing on a basic, rudimentary level. However, it is more challenging to decide whether your business can benefit from this new phenomenon. Here is a short primer on the topic and a guide to deciding if it is the right solution for your ecommerce website.

What is cloud computing?

Cloud computing can mean many different things, but it is most easily understood as being similar to an electric grid. Rather than having your own self-contained systems, you are buying into a large system and taking services as you need them. It is growing quickly in popularity among ecommerce websites that are too small to support all of their own functions.

Why is cloud computing important for ecommerce?

Cloud computing can be a good decision for some—but certainly not all—ecommerce websites because it allows you to deal quickly with increases in demand, such as a peak in visits or a sudden need for upgraded systems. It allows people who partake of it to pay only for what they need, without having to create a complete infrastructure. More importantly, it can provide security; you will always have what you need. For many ecommerce websites, there is a definite cost advantage in buying only what you need. You can pay more or less depending on your needs, which are usually proportional to your profits.

Do you need to switch to the cloud?

It is easy to understand what cloud computing is; understanding whether it is the best solution for your business is a more difficult mental task. There are a few situations in which cloud computing is probably the best solution:

  • You are spending too much on infrastructure. For some businesses, infrastructure is one of their major costs, disproportionately so to their profit. If this is the case for you, cloud computing may solve a difficult problem. Cloud computing may lead to a huge increase in profitability. 
  • Your business has huge ups and downs in traffic. Take, for example, a Halloween oriented website. They will see a huge amount of traffic in the fall, but have only a trickle of visitors during the rest of the year. These types of websites can really benefit from cloud computing, buying what they need when they need it. Even if your business has less dramatic ups and downs, can you really afford to pay for infrastructure that is not used?
  • Your servers and other systems are not used to capacity for much of the year. Many ecommerce website owners have to overbuy infrastructure to accommodate increased demand during relatively small periods. This means that you are paying for a lot of unused capacity.
  • You do not deal with information that has a high level of security need. Security in cloud computing can be a major issue. If you are keeping a database that includes highly personal or confidential information, the cloud may not be your ideal solution. Your cloud will exist outside of your firewalls and security systems.