Ecommerce is everywhere, and it’s only growing. As with any market that experiences fast growth, companies are scrambling to gain traction and claim their share of the pie. This leads to a whole new set of challenges. Resounding questions may include: how can you scale your website? How do you make sure your site stays available 24/7, 365 days per year? And most importantly, what technology should you use?
Everything ecommerce is changing quickly and so too are the technological solutions involved. You may have heard of cloud, Kubernetes, IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS—these are all new key words in ecommerce. Technologies like Kubernetes, concepts like IaaS, PaaS, SaaS (the meaning of which we will explain later in the article), and software delivery practices are shaping the ecommerce market of today and tomorrow
Ecommerce is a dynamic business with lots of volatility. For this reason, many B2B and B2C companies require scalable solutions that can support different types of traffic patterns. In addition, most companies need a platform with deeper integrations to their inventory systems or other tools already used to run their businesses.
This is why, while there were once countless different options for running an online store, we’re now seeing a movement towards cloud solutions where buyers and sellers transact using cloud-based applications rather than those that are on-premise.
This adoption of ecommerce cloud services is closely linked to the rise in popularity of Kubernetes (also referred to as K8’s). But what is Kubernetes? What does Kubernetes in action do? And how can it be invaluable for your ecommerce business? This article explores all of that, but first, let us start with defining the Kubernetes-related vocabulary, from cloud hosting to PaaS.
Related reading: Selecting an Enterprise Ecommerce Hosting Service
Traditional Hosting vs. Cloud Hosting
Traditional hosting means running your business on physical servers. This can either be on a dedicated server or using shared server space. This can be a cost-efficient way to host a website, however, there is a single point of failure, meaning that if anything happens to this server, for example, the hard drive, RAM, or power supply fails, your business will be compromised.
It also means you are unable to respond quickly to sudden spikes in traffic—you would need to physically purchase or rent the server if you do not have one; configure it and connect to a network in the data center to add additional resources. This might also mean you are having to invest in additional resources you might end up not using, once the traffic falls again.
Cloud hosting, on the other hand, allows companies to use off-site servers for storage space, databases, control panels, email accounts, among other things. With cloud hosting, the load is balanced across multiple servers, meaning an individual server going down does not lead to lost information or downtime.
With cloud hosting, you can set up and provision computing resources within minutes. It also allows for your application codebase to be simpler, as some of the security, scalability, and backup features are served by the cloud.
Cloud hosting is the key: IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS explained
Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)
Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) means that the physical or cloud infrastructure is taken care of for you by a Cloud vendor. Cloud or on-premise infrastructure can be provisioned, usually based on declarative configuration, which allows for keeping track of the state of the infrastructure and therefore improves security. IaaS, however, does not solve how you build, deploy, and deliver entire applications at scale and how your development team interacts with them.
Platform as a Service (PaaS)
Platform as a Service (PaaS) is a managed platform that developers use to build, deploy and run applications. The client doesn’t have to worry about understanding infrastructure, observability and security needs, or specifics of application delivery pipelines. The vendor manages all of that for you and provides all necessary tooling for developers. All of your files and data are stored on the vendor’s private servers instead of yours with these platforms. That means that you don’t need enough space for your entire website on your computer and can forget about having to worry about bandwidth if one of your pages gets popular.
Software as a Service (SaaS)
Software as a Service (SaaS) often includes a common codebase running for all clients, which the vendor maintains. The vendor takes care of everything, including upgrading the software for you. This results in efficiency gains and seems to be a perfect getaway for e-commerce owners. However, there are two significant downsides: fewer customization opportunities and complete vendor lock-in. While these may not seem like dealbreakers for a startup, they can turn into an issue when startups scale and become enterprises. Nevertheless, we embrace SaaS platforms in Vaimo and use them a lot ourselves.
Related reading: Ecommerce Strategy 101 – Choosing a Platform and KPI Metrics
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What is Kubernetes?
Kubernetes is an open-source system for automated deployment, scaling, and management of containerized applications. In other words, it is a platform that automates many of the manual processes involved in managing servers for your cloud-hosted business.
Kubernetes in Action: What Does it Do?
- Groups containers that make up an application into logical units for easy management and discovery
- Sets rules on how to run those containers (for example: what should run in a container, how many should run at the same time, etc.)
- Schedules when those tasks should be executed so you can maintain your application’s availability and resource utilization
What are the Benefits of Kubernetes for Ecommerce?
Kubernetes can help you build resilience into your application by automatically spinning up new instances of critical services in the event of server failure. Kubernetes also has built-in service discovery, which will allow you to dynamically link the containers running on the host with any other component that needs them, such as load balancers or databases. This means that there is no need to update your configuration each time you spin up a new instance of an app—and even if one does fail, it won’t bring down its entire environment along with it.
Kubernetes allows you to scale your campaigns instantly by adding more computing power to your site while also ensuring performance and availability. Imagine having to configure every new server you want to add to your website or consider the time required to configure more servers for an increasing number of users. Kubernetes makes scalability easier by allowing you to create multiple pods. A pod is a group of containers that are deployed on the same host machine. You can iterate faster on adding features without worrying about how your app will perform with more users. This enables developers and businesses alike to create products with high availability at lower costs due to increased automation & efficiency.
In traditional hosting, most mechanical or electric failures of physical infrastructure translate into availability problems for the site. Modern Cloud Kubernetes clusters prevent this by technology that assures that another hardware will take care of the loads of failed ones. Many ecommerce apps use third-party software components that can fail, such as chat APIs or payment gateways. If one service fails, not only does it bring down its own instance but also every other component that relies on it to function correctly. This is where high availability and fault tolerance comes into the picture. Kubernetes helps you build applications that are tolerant to failure. If a service goes down, its pods (collections of one or more containers deployed together as part of an application) will be restarted on healthy nodes.
An Agnostic Platform
As more organizations look to manage their own applications across multiple cloud platforms, they need an easy way to do so. Kubernetes is open source software designed for portability – it can run anywhere in the public, private, or hybrid Cloud. This gives organizations a lot of flexibility in where they deploy applications and how they scale them. Being cloud-agnostic also allows the Kubernetes community to drive innovations that extend beyond a single cloud provider’s feature set.
Related reading: B2B Ecommerce Marketing Opportunity
At Vaimo, we have a Platform Engineering team to take care of our in-house platform to ensure it offers the best possible experience for our delivery teams. This means efficiency gains during project deliveries as development teams do not have to take care of installation and configuration of tooling such as logging and monitoring, metrics, build and deployment pipelines, security tools, and CDN.
The Vaimo platform is based on Kubernetes and extends that by adding a self-service portal that developers can use to get new projects up and running from scratch in minutes. This includes not only infrastructure but also code and configuration repositories, build and deploy pipelines, documentation setup, best-practice security policies, and CDN.
Our Platform makes second-day operations easy, as project setup is tracked in a Git repository keeping a record of all changes done on the infrastructure setup of the project. We’ve also built a Kubernetes operator to handle the deployment of Magento 2 on top of Kubernetes, which is not a simple thing, as many different moving pieces need to be handled correctly to minimize downtime during deployment.
How Vaimo Can Help
At Vaimo, we’re very flexible to cater to your needs, be it fully cloud-native or on-premise setup. Perhaps you have your own OpenShift cluster you would like us to deploy, or maybe you need our help to get you started in your Kubernetes journey.
We’re a Kubernetes hosting provider, a full omnichannel agency, and one of the world’s most respected leaders in digital commerce on the Adobe Commerce and Adobe Experience Cloud platforms.