E-commerce brands have become very dependent on Hadoop tools to access big data to optimize their marketing, logistics, and customer service strategies. While a number of Hadoop platforms have the functionality they need, Microsoft Azure is one of the most popular.
Mike Hanrahan, CTO of Jet.com, states that Azure has played an important role in optimizing and scaling their e-commerce funnels.
“To be one of the best e-commerce destinations in the US, we will have to handle millions of customers... That requires a top-class e-commerce system built on a flexible, open cloud platform. That is exactly what we got with Azure.”
One of the primary reasons Azure is a preferred solution for e-commerce providers is that it has a 99.9% service-level agreement guarantee. This is the primary selling point Microsoft makes. However, there are a number of other reasons e-commerce brands use Azure, which are overlooked on Microsoft’s sales page.
Breadth of Supported Data Types
As demand for online products continues to rise, e-commerce brands are focusing more on scalability than ever before. Big data has provided numerous opportunities to expand, using it to:
- Collect data on larger numbers of customers to optimize their marketing strategies
- Streamline there with just sticks models to meet customer demand more quickly
- Identify new market opportunities based on third-party data
Brands need to tap many different types of data to optimize their strategies. However, such scalability isn’t possible with Hadoop environments that are restricted to homogeneous data sets. In e-commerce applications, data comes in many different structured and unstructured formats, so it’s important to use a Hadoop environment that can handle it. Azure is capable of processing and storing any type of data set.
Before Hadoop was released by Apache, e-commerce brands had difficulty capitalizing off of the data they harvested. Even today, many Hadoop platforms aren't robust enough to meet these demands.
Microsoft Azure gathers data more efficiently than other Hadoop tools, so it is ideal for e-commerce brands with high-volume data requirements.
All-Encompassing IaaS Model
Microsoft Azure initially pitched itself to SMEs with an infrastructure as a service (IaaS) business model. The Microsoft Azure infrastructure includes:
- The operating system
- Runtime management environment
Microsoft Azure's IaaS model appealed to different customer bases for different reasons. Small- and medium-sized e-commerce brands choose it for the breadth of services, so they don't need to invest in their own infrastructure. Larger brands tend to already have their own operating systems but still appreciate Azure for its vast computing power. Ironically, larger e-commerce brands seem to prefer at the most, because of its scalability.
Using Personalization for POS Systems
Personalization has become a very important part of e-commerce in recent years. Their ability to personalize content is limited to the scope of the data they can collect. Fortunately, Azure can help solutions such as Shopify POS collect much more data on their customers.
Ability to Handle Sporadic Traffic Surges
Microsoft Azure is primarily recognized for its ability to store and access big data with sophisticated Hadoop algorithms. However, e-commerce providers also choose Azure for another benefit that most other users overlook: its impressive bandwidth.
E-commerce companies must be able to cope with unexpected traffic surges, particularly near holiday seasons.
Chris Wen of GetCRM discusses this in his white paperMicrosoft Azure, eCommerce and the digital workplace:
“Scalability refers to the capacity of the site and applications to accommodate a sudden, unexpected influx of visitors simultaneously. While traditional retailers can regulate the number of customers that enter their store, ecommerce retailers must anticipate that their site may be swamped by a deluge of customers during high traffic periods. Black Friday, Cyber Monday or any other coordinated discount event sees online visitors far beyond the norm. This puts a strain on their network bandwidth. Companies with onsite servers must scale their bandwidth to their most resource-intensive periods, which requires significant investment in onsite infrastructure and IT staff. If their capacity for data transfer is overwhelmed during a sales event, the website will crash, and the retailer can lose out on missed sales.”
Microsoft Azure customers can purchase over 500 terabytes of bandwidth every month, which is far more extensive than most other solutions. This massive bandwidth makes it much easier for e-commerce brands to handle traffic volume near peak sales periods.
Microsoft Azure Is a Scalable Solution for E-Commerce Brands
Hadoop-based environments give e-commerce brands a powerful advantage in a world that is increasingly governed by big data. Microsoft Azure is one of the most versatile Hadoop solutions available, so a growing number of e-commerce brands are leveraging it.