When a company first decides to move their commerce platform and supporting toolsets to the cloud, they typically focus most of their attention on deciding what type of cloud (private/public) and provider (AWS, GCP, Azure) they want, and then picking the supporting technologies (Spring Boot, Node.js, React, Kubernetes, etc.).
While these choices are important, they are actually less impactful to a successful migration than you might suspect. All of the providers and supporting technologies are mature: They provide what is required for a commerce platform to run in the cloud. Quite often, it’s the things that don’t get the attention they deserve — or get overlooked entirely — that can make or break a migration project.
This blog covers seven of these often-overlooked factors. The advice below applies to two common scenarios: Working with cloud-based components you own or manage, or interacting with third-party cloud components.
Whichever way you go, you need to pay close attention to these points:
- Strategy and roadmap. It’s imperative to develop a robust plan to coordinate the activities of team leaders, system architects, database administrators, coders and support personnel and have everyone aligned on the overall project strategy and roadmap. Also, understanding the TCO, ROI, and hard and soft savings should be included in the planning.
- Skillset management. Cloud components require specific skills and experience. VMware skills don’t always translate into Google Cloud skills. You have to address skill deficiencies as early as possible and manage them carefully before, during and after the cloud transition.
- DevOps. To get the most value from cloud e-commerce, you need a nimble development process and rapid software updates. Following DevOps principles and putting the design and architecture in place up-front in the migration helps keep all your moving parts coordinated.
- Performance. It is assumed that moving to an elastic, cloud-based environment with modern technology will improve performance. This is not always the case with both cloud platforms and headless architectures for ecommerce systems. After you have made the investment and delivered the project, the customer experience may in fact be worse if specific steps are not taken up front to optimize page performance. In addition, slow-loading pages can wreak havoc with search engine rankings. Designing and optimizing for performance up-front is mandatory.
- Monitoring. Because cloud components are beyond your direct control and somewhat abstracted, you need a comprehensive system monitoring setup. This includes monitoring, logging and alerting that will get people moving and enable them to fix problems as soon as possible.
- Design patterns. You must decide how to design the components of the platform. Cloud-based computing provides more flexibility and choices in design patterns, so defining and aligning all teams on the overall design patterns to be used will allow you to create a more cohesive, well-designed platform. Left to their own devices, different teams may end up building things in different ways, producing a confusing, convoluted cloud implementation. You need standard, coordinated design patterns to ensure all of your development efforts dovetail. Make sure you understand and assess your existing application landscape and pick a cloud architecture that meets your assessment.
- Dependencies. Third-party applications and data sources can gum up the works if you don’t have a coordinated program to deal with them. You must define dependencies and put in processes as a structural component of the migration effort to ensure success.
The DMI Advantage in Moving E-commerce to the Cloud
When your customer experience is on the line, you can’t afford unexpected glitches that chase people to the competition or projects that aren’t delivered on time and on budget. This reality underscores the inherent tradeoff of moving to the cloud: To get massive flexibility you have to deal with complexity and up-front cost.
At DMI, we have experts with direct experience in e-commerce operations across multiple retail sectors. We don’t tell clients what they need to do. We scrutinize their marketplace and current technology environment, and help them formulate a strategic, proactive approach to doing what’s best for their customers and their business.
It’s not easy to figure out. But it’s easier if you choose the right partner — one that is committed to the client’s success and knows how to successful navigate the unexpected pitfalls.
—Andrew Powers, senior vice president, solutions delivery, digital commerce