How to migrate your e-commerce business to the cloud

The Covid-19 pandemic has put a strain on retailers’ digital capabilities as customers shift from in-store to online purchases. Therefore, it is important to invest in digital channels, particularly by modernising e-commerce platforms in Google Cloud.

E-commerce modernisation is a complex undertaking, part of a long-term goal consisting of various phases. As a retailer, however, you can take some initial first steps right now to build the foundation for a flexible and agile e-commerce platform that caters to your customer’s expectations.

What is e-commerce migration?

One of these first steps is e-commerce migration. It entails taking your current e-commerce platform and moving it to the cloud or better known as “lift and shift.” From experience, this is common with retailers who have already virtualised and/or containerised e-commerce workloads and want to focus on getting into the cloud quickly with an end goal of refactoring in the cloud later. This is typically the first step toward a broader e-commerce transformation effort, and the quickest way to get into the cloud.

Even if it’s just as a first step, retailers who embark on an e-commerce migration initiative can take advantage of Google Cloud’s elasticity, scalability, security and best-in-class cloud platform. 

Benefits of Google Cloud

  1. Migration capabilities: Google Cloud’s Live Migration of compute instances means you no longer require maintenance downtime due to provider infrastructure upgrades and maintenance. To aid with the migration process from your existing host, Migrate for Compute Engine reduces migration complexity and effort for e-commerce workloads. Migration Center can help accelerate the migration process for highly complex workloads with the help of either Google Cloud Professional Services or Google’s specialised partners.
  2. Flexible Compute: Google Cloud offers a wide range of Compute Engine machine type options to better right-size compute to the retailer’s e-commerce workloads and help reduce cost.
  3. Security: Google Cloud encrypts all data in transit and at rest by default, helping support retailers’ compliance requirements including Payment Cardholder Industry (PCI) and secure their end-consumer data.
  4. Network: Google Cloud’s Load Balancing and private networking spans multiple geographic areas. Google’s load balancer will automatically distribute multi-regional traffic to the closest GCP resources to the consumer which improves the experience, leads to higher conversion and also provides automatic high availability and disaster recovery for regional failures.
  5. AI & Data Analytics: Migrating to Google Cloud unlocks AI capabilities that can enhance the customer experience. Google’s Recommendations AI and other AI technologies can improve conversions via AI-driven recommendations and AI-powered search results on the e-commerce front end.

As a result, retailers can increase their organisation’s agility and innovation capability and more quickly launch new experiences to keep up with changing consumer expectations. 

Retailers’ challenges

In addition to these benefits, e-commerce migration addresses many challenges retailers face and are top of mind at the executive level including:

  1. Velocity: Lack of agility to support ongoing business via digital channels and adapt to heightened and more sophisticated customer expectations.
  2. Total cost of ownership: High operational costs due to upfront investment in on-premise infrastructure and capacity to accommodate peak loads, and the need to implement cost reduction procedures to focus solely on mission-critical workloads.
  3. Business shift: The shift from in-store to online creates a strain on omnichannel capabilities including logistics and supply chain.
  4. Legacy systems: Constraints with existing legacy e-commerce infrastructure (pushing the limits of both the software and hardware) hinder the ability to modernize and adapt to changing customer demands.

How Google Cloud can help

A move to Google Cloud via an e-commerce migration addresses these pain points in the following ways:

  1. Help your business accommodate any traffic pattern set by your customers with Google Cloud’s scalability and elasticity capabilities. You can also safeguard your own cloud resources by leveraging Compute Engine Reservations which come in handy during peak events such as promo days, Black Friday, Cyber Monday and other times when you need guaranteed cloud resources.
  2. Help your business prevent downtime and loss of business.
  3. Help your business minimise cost by scaling down unused capacity. You can also bring down costs even more by leveraging Compute Engine Sustained Use Discounts and Committed Use Discounts for your predictable workloads.
  4. Accelerate the speed and performance of your e-commerce channel. By having access to Google Cloud’s countless regions around the globe, you can serve requests closer to customers by leveraging Google Cloud’s networking backbone.

How do I get started?

The reality is that any e-commerce migration project can be complex but you can reduce that complexity by following a tried and tested approach. Based on Google’s experience working with various retailers, the Google Cloud Professional Services team has developed a methodology to help with this journey.

This is a common migration path which follows a methodology based on best practices we’ve seen from the field:

  • Proof of concept: Get comfortable with Google Cloud by experimenting with Google’s products and services. Test out a subset of future-state e-commerce functionality in a risk-free sandbox environment to gain confidence in the migration.
  • Cloud Foundations: Define and build out the minimal set of Google Cloud foundational components required by the migration across domains such as Identity and Access Management, Resource Management, Networking, Cloud Monitoring & Logging and Cost Control.
  • Discovery and planning: Perform an e-commerce application inventory to understand the overall complexity of your migration. Plan for the subsequent stages of the migration.
  • Execution: Migrate your e-commerce workload without serving customer traffic. Validate your deployment by performing integration and smoke testing.
  • Testing: Validate functionality and start serving minimal traffic. A good rule of thumb is to start by splitting traffic between the legacy and the new solution. For example, you could serve ~1% of traffic from the new solution and increase volume progressively.
  • Optimisation: Tweak telemetry and instrumentation iteratively in Cloud Monitoring based on SRE best practices. Tweak monitoring metrics based on KPIs used to track SLI and SLOs.
  • Decommissioning: Phase out and decommission your legacy e-commerce solution once you achieve a desired level of comfort.

The approach above might look daunting but by following it with the right methodology and organisational mindset you can execute a successful migration and lay the groundwork for a flexible and agile e-commerce foundation.

Google Cloud Professional Services

Modernise your IT infrastructure with DevOps, containers and cloud solutions from Google.

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