As ecommerce industry insiders, we are still amazed at how the cloud is taking ecommerce web development sector by storm and how the industry is adapting around it. The rising of the cloud computing and cloud storage paradigm perhaps took speed from 2008 onward and were it only a trend or a fad, it would have died by now. In fact, many industry analysts and consultants predict the move towards cloud, an ongoing top 10 phenomenon for the industry in 2014 as well and even beyond.
Historical Reference to Cloud Computing and Cloud Services in Ecommerce Industry
The Earliest reference to cloud computing architecture has been there ever since 1950s and 1960s in the era of time-sharing and some research work done by AT&T. However, the largest name associated with cloud computing continues to be Amazon who in 2006 launched the Amazon Web Services which are basically a collection of remote computing and storage services exposed to customers over the net and billed based on usage.
But how is the cloud shaping up changes in shopping cart development and e-commerce design and development criterion is the question we're trying to answer today.
Shopping Cart Development and the Cloud
The cloud has impacted e-commerce industry enormously and an example of this as recent as in early 2013 is the launch of X-cart Next, X-cart's cloud hosted platform which has received tremendous interest and rave reviews from industry mavens. Another celebrated and well respected cart embracing this SaaS philosophy has been Magento with the Magento Go software which is run on their cloud hosting platform and offered as a SaaS to prospective store owners.
Magento Go is getting great reviews and performance is definitely better in terms of speed and availability than the Magento Community edition. As Magento ecommerce Developers we've found it to have easier installation and setup options. Apart from X Cart Next and Magento Go, the other notable shopping cart in this area is Bigcommerce.com. Big commerce seems to be a passionate follower and user of Cloud and SaaS, because they claim to be using cloud computing based applications extensively, for their own business needs.
Content Delivery Networks and Cloud Hosting
Another thing which cloud computing has shaped up is content delivery networks or cloud hosting. A content delivery network (CDN) is basically a distributed set of servers deployed in multiple data centers across the internet. Goal of the CDN is to serve user content (mainly static) with high availability and high speed. Since servers are set up with copies of data in strategic geographical locations, transmission time is reduced when a user requests data from near such a location, as compared to data being stored at a single location. This is done through routing of DNS requests appropriately.
When a content request comes, the cache is checked and if the content is there and cache has not expired the content is served directly. Otherwise the CDN server makes request to an origin server in its network (for that website property) to serve the content.?, The best part is that using such technology combined with SaaS principles, even smaller businesses can take benefit of such a system using services like Cloudflare and Amazon Cloudfront.
Cloud hosting can be called a variant of cloud computing under the IaaS domain (Infrastructure as a Service). Cloud hosting has the additional advantage that there are virtual machines and server ready to increase your complete website's performance (static, dynamic and database) by simple addition of storage and computing resources. Companies love this because they neither have to spend fixed costs, nor require manpower and time to meet such requirements.
SaaS as part of Cloud Computing in Ecommerce Industry
Shopping Cart implementation using the cloud is a specialized example of SaaS through cloud computing itself. But there are other areas where Software as a Service solution is rendered through the cloud. The idea is to be make software easily affordable, flexible and responsive by delivering it as much as needed and when and where needed as a response to a service request.
This finds huge use in Customer Relationship Management (CRM) and Business support applications and many top companies across the world are leveraging this principle to reach millions of small and medium businesses as their prospective clients. There is a subtle difference here which can be appreciated. The two actual concepts are a) SaaS and b) Cloud software. SaaS has been around for a while but Cloud Software is a specialized part of SaaS. SaaS is a delivery model and has been there since the time Salesforce was offered as CRM application via the web (and even earlier).
Other examples include ZOHO.com and many others. The Cloud computing or its subset of cloud software however offers more control to the end clients such that they can back up data, better control it, have different storage options. Further the most obvious difference is that SaaS need not actually have distribution and can be simply the deployment of a software through a single large server.