Cloud Computing – Performance on Demand

by , 10.12.08

During the holiday season especially, many shop operators are worried whether their shop will be able to handle the expected stampede of visitors. At peak times, the systems have to process many more customers than usual. In the worst case, the shops become so slow that customers leave and go to other vendors. In the past, online merchants had to provide for additional hardware for ensuring reserve power to handle these situations. However, today, the cost factor can be calculated much more accurately since computing power can be added quite easily "on the fly". This trend is called "Cloud Computing" – managing data and applications on the Internet instead of keeping these on own servers. Besides demand-driven performance, data security and data availability are clear advantages of the concept. ePages already relies on Cloud Computing.

What Is Cloud Computing?

For small companies in particular, it’s no longer advisable to operate one’s own server. The reasons:
•    inflexible computing power (e.g. higher performance demand for marketing campaigns)
•    incalculable costs (for expanding the infrastructure)
•    insufficient data security (e.g. in the event of a power failure)
•    limited data accessibility (e.g. via a Blackberry while travelling)

These obstacles can be headed off via external computing centres. The performance demand of the supported companies is distributed virtually onto many servers in order to quickly and flexibly react to changing requirements. Like "clouds in the sky", resources meld into one another or are rearranged if the needs structure requires it. This reduces costs and makes the availability of performance and capacity more reliable.

An additional advantage: In larger computing centres, servers are operated more efficiently with regards to energy use and are thus more environmentally-friendly.

Companies are able to access their data and applications and assign resources via the Internet at any time. Thus, Cloud Computing is nothing more than "Internet Computing". The Internet is the cloud through which all business processes are controlled.

How Does Cloud Computing Work with ePages?

Actually, ePages has already been operating with Cloud Computing for many years: The shop software is either rented from an online provider or is made available online via a licence key. In every case, the application is operated on external servers that are scalable according to individual needs.

This is actually already possible: If additional capacity is required for the shop during the Christmas season or for a marketing campaign, an additional application server can be added "on-the-fly". When the server is subsequently no longer required, it is switched off again. The benefit here: Shop operators don’t need to worry about how much computing power they need. It is all handled and adapted dynamically.

Since product version 5, ePages has worked with so-called server pools. Different servers (application servers, database servers etc.) are combined in order to ensure an optimal distribution of the computing load. Where necessary, the resources of one pool can be drawn-off from another pool to increase the performance of the first pool.
Starting with product version 6.0.3, there is also RPM for Linux, a software package administration system which works like a .zip file and makes the installation and configuration of applications very easy. This allows ePages to be able to be installed on new servers very quickly.

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  1. 18.08.2009


    I think the concept of cloud computing is great but we must remember that the application that we want to run on the cloud must be designed to scale. If we double the number of servers this may not mean a doubling in number of transactions processed as described in the followng link.

    All the best


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