Skip to main content
  • Blog / 
  • An Infrastructure...

An Infrastructure to Supercharge an Ecommerce Engine

How dedicated cloud helps solve for fluctuating demand and other challenges of selling goods online while keeping infrastructure costs under control.

Headshot of Allan MacGregor
Allan MacGregorSoftware Engineer
An Infrastructure to Supercharge an Ecommerce Engine

Running an ecommerce platform is a constant balancing act for DevOps and SRE teams. The infrastructure must be scalable, highly available, widely distributed and able to support fluctuating demand—all while keeping a lid on total cost.

Traditional public cloud platforms have been the natural choice for ecommerce, given their geographic reach, a myriad of features and an elastic, pay-as-you-go infrastructure consumption model. Recently, however, companies have been increasingly concerned about skyrocketing cloud costs and looking for ways to reduce them.

In this article we will look at an alternative style of infrastructure, dedicated cloud, which gives ecommerce platforms all the benefits of public cloud along with an opportunity to optimize performance and cost.

Variable Demand: the Perennial Challenge in Ecommerce

When it comes to traffic trends, ecommerce is not for the faint hearted. A major shopping event, like Black Friday, Cyber Monday or Boxing Day, can drive a traffic surge well north of 200 percent.

There are well-known strategies for handling the spikes, each with its own limitations. Caching, for example, is effective for static content but doesn’t address the dynamic components of ecommerce: shopping carts, user profiles, personalized recommendations, inventory levels and so on. Content delivery networks (CDNs) distribute a website's content across servers in various locations, but if not configured properly, can cache and serve outdated content. Some developers focus on optimizing web and database queries to handle scalability issues, and while these optimizations can significantly improve performance, even the most optimized queries can be overwhelmed during massive traffic spikes.

Anticipating and preparing for sudden changes in demand is an ongoing challenge. Within the realm of ecommerce, several hurdles are especially prominent:

  • Predictability: It's hard to anticipate the timing of all surges. Even if predictable events like the big shopping days are taken into account, a promotion that goes viral or a product that suddenly gets popular can catch developers off guard.
  • Resource allocation: Preallocating enough resources to handle demand during short peak periods that sit idle the rest of the year isn't cost effective.
  • Database stress: Sudden surges can strain databases immensely. Often, ecommerce platforms must handle multiple concurrent tasks, including updating inventory, processing transactions and managing user sessions. Variable demand can create bottlenecks if databases aren't optimized or scalable.
  • Dynamic content: Ecommerce sites have a mix of static and dynamic content. While static content can be cached and served efficiently, dynamic content requires real-time processing, which can get resource intensive during demand surges.
  • Infrastructure complexity: Effectively handling variable demand calls for a more complex infrastructure that incorporates load balancers, multiple database replicas and CDNs and thus additional management expertise and oversight.

Common ways to anticipate traffic swings include: 

  • Load testing to simulate traffic spikes and identify weak points under controlled conditions and strategic caching
  • Rate limiting restricts the number of requests that can come in from a single user in a given timeframe (this is also used to prevent DDoS attacks).
  • Redundancy planning enhances system reliability and ensures consistent service availability even if certain servers or services face issues. 
  • Geographic distribution of database servers based on user demographics further optimizes performance by serving users from nearby data centers and reducing latency.
  • Elastic infrastructure and autoscaling mechanisms ensure that resources are allocated based on demand.

Cloud Cost

With often slim margins, infrastructure costs are an especially important consideration for developers in ecommerce.

All the advantages of multitenant cloud services come at a cost. The pay-as-you-go model means the cost can be very low at small scale but snowball as your business and user base expands. In addition to the base cost of the cloud services you use, your cloud bill can grow as a result of cloud egress charges and features meant to make your platform more robust, such as backup and redundancy, which become more important as your business matures.

The Advantages of Equinix Dedicated Cloud for Ecommerce

For a quickly growing ecommerce business, dedicated cloud provides the scalability, elasticity and geographic reach of traditional public clouds with the control and cost effectiveness of dedicated infrastructure. Equinix dedicated cloud, or Equinix Metal, combines automated bare metal compute and storage with a high-speed global network backbone and virtually managed connectivity to network operators, ISPs, large enterprises and all the major public clouds, so you can continue using the public cloud services that have the most business value.

Key advantages:

  • On-demand hardware: Provision and manage the high-performance bare metal compute and storage via an API when and where you need it and spin it down when you don't, paying only for what you use. Reduce infrastructure costs for the steady portions of your workloads by securing long-term capacity commitments at a substantial discount.
  • Low latency via proximity: Hosted in Equinix IBX data centers around the world, this dedicated cloud infrastructure sits in more than 30 densely populated metropolitan areas, close to end users, to all major cloud providers' network onramps and to all global, regional and local network operators.
  • Control: Fully managed private storage and a wide variety of network configuration options at your fingertips give you full control of where your data is stored and how packets travel on your network. You can design the network you need to maximize performance and minimize data egress costs.
  • Validated cloud-native solutions: The constantly growing list of third-party solutions integrated with Equinix dedicated cloud includes DevOps and orchestration tools, tools for bootstrapping and managing Kubernetes clusters, for standing up and managing hypervisor-based virtualization, cloud networking tools and tools to enable and automate hybrid and multicloud environments.
  • Integrations: There are GitHub repositories for managing and deploying infrastructure on Equinix dedicated cloud, including a Kubernetes cloud provider and Terraform modules and drivers; for integrating Metal with Kubernetes, such as modules for deploying Anthos, K3s and OpenShift; and for networking and security on Equinix, such as Terraform modules for deploying firewalls, SD-WAN edge devices and Equinix Fabric integration.

In summary, Equinix dedicated cloud offers a powerful combination of scalability, performance, global reach, control and cost efficiency. This makes it a compelling choice for ecommerce businesses looking to take their infrastructure to the next level by reducing the heavy operational cost associated with their high-traffic websites.

Published on

06 March 2024
Subscribe to our newsletter

A monthly digest of the latest news, articles, and resources.