April 14th, 2010 | 3 MIN READ

A Step-by-Step Guide for Deploying eCommerce Systems in the Cloud

Written by David Linthicum

David S. Linthicum (Dave) knows cloud computing and Service Oriented Architecture (SOA). He is an internationally recognized industry expert and thought leader, and the author and coauthor of 13 books on computing, including the best selling Enterprise Application Integration (Addison Wesley). Dave keynotes at many leading technology conferences on cloud computing, SOA, Web 2.0, and enterprise architecture, and has appeared on a number of TV and radio shows as a computing expert. He is a blogger for InfoWorld, Intelligent Enterprise, and eBizq.net, covering SOA and enterprise computing topics. Dave also has columns in Government Computer News, Cloud Computing Journal, SOA Journal, Align Journal, and is the editor of Virtualization Journal. In his career, Dave has formed or enhanced many of the ideas behind modern distributed computing including Enterprise Application Integration, B2B Application Integration, and SOA, approaches and technologies in wide use today. For the last 10 years, Dave has focused on the technology and strategies around cloud computing, and how to make cloud computing work for the modern enterprise. This includes work with several cloud computing startups. Dave’s industry experience includes tenure as CTO and CEO of several successful software companies, and upper-level management positions in Fortune 100 companies. In addition, he was an associate professor of computer science for eight years, and continues to lecture at major technical colleges and universities including the University of Virginia, Arizona State University, and the University of Wisconsin.

cloudplugHow does one deploy cloud computing for ecommerce systems? It’s really about the architecture, understanding your own requirements, and then understanding the cloud computing options that lay before you. Here is a quick and dirty guide for you.

Step 1: Understand the business case.

While it would seem that moving to the cloud is a technology exercise, the reality is that the core business case should be understood as to the potential benefits of cloud computing. This is the first step because there is no need to continue if we can’t make a business case. Things to consider include the value of shifting risk to the cloud computing provider, the value of on-demand scaling (which has a high value in the world of ecommerce), and the value of outsourcing versus in-sourcing.

Step 2: Understand your existing data, services, processes, and applications.

You start with what you have, and cloud computing is no exception. You need to have a data-level, service-level, and process-level understanding of your existing problem domain, also how everything is bundled into applications. I covered this in detail in my book, but the short answer is to break your existing system or systems down to a functional primitive of any architectural components, or data, services, and processes, with the intention being to assemble them as components that reside in the cloud and on-premise.

Step 3: Select a provider.

Once you understand what you need, it’s time to see where you’re going. Selecting a cloud computing provider, or, in many cases, several, is much like selecting other on-premise technologies. You line up your requirements on one side, and look at the features and functions of the providers on the other. Also, make sure to consider the soft issues such as viability in the marketplace over time, as well as security, governance, points-of-presence near your customers, and ongoing costs.

Step 4: Migrate.

In this step we migrate the right architectural assets to the cloud, including transferring and translating the data for the new environment, as well as localizing the applications, services, and processes. Migration takes a great deal of planning to pull off successfully the first time.

Step 5: Deploy.

Once your system is on the cloud computing platform, it’s time to deploy it or turn it into a production system. Typically this means some additional coding and changes to the core data, as well as standing up core security and governance systems. Moreover, you must do initial integration testing, and create any links back to on-premise systems that need to communicate with the newly deployed cloud computing systems.

Step 6: Test.

Hopefully, everything works correctly on your new cloud computing provider. Now you must verify that through testing. You need to approach this a few ways, including functional testing, or how your ecommerce system works in production, as well as performance testing, testing elasticity of scaling, security and penetration testing.

If much of this sounds like the process of building and deploying a more traditional on-premise system, you’re right. What does change, however, is that you’re not in complete control of the cloud computing provider, and that aspect of building, deploying, and managing an ecommerce system needs to be dialed into this process.

This post was contributed by guest columnist David Linthicum. David is a cloud computing and SOA expert and author of several books on Information Technology.

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