Cloud Computing – The Four Factors Retail Businesses Must Consider

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Most retail businesses have heard about Cloud Computing and many have begun using this new business model for managing the cost of the IT infrastructure that supports their business. Businesses typically pay for the cost of servers, network, IT staff, rent, electricity and air conditioning when bringing a new service to market.  With Cloud Computing, this changes.  The model is to pay for the value received and not the cost of the infrastructure that delivers the value

At the same time, cloud computing is moving into a new hybrid era in which applications are distributed across the local datacenter,  a cloud provider and their trading partner's datacenter and cloud provider.. How does a retail business evaluate the promise cloud computing offers when there is so much complexity to be managed in order to realize its benefits? There are four factors that need to be considered.

Planning Cloud Computing IT Expansion

The first step a retail business needs to take is to discover and evaluate the company's existing IT assets. Are these assets limiting company growth? Is the business struggling to meet customer demand? Is moving to the cloud the best option? Or should some services remain local while other services move to the cloud?

These are all vital questions for developing a plan. How do you find the answers to these questions?

One of the most effective ways for any retail business to find realistic answers is to integrate an application performance monitoring solution with the IT enterprise. This will enable the accurate assessment of performance of the applications and IT infrastructure.  The right monitoring solution will provide multiple tools for evaluating, monitoring and managing the availability, performance, configuration, updating and provisioning of the existing IT business applications.

When IT management chooses application performance monitoring that includes application dependency discovery, patch management, change and configuration management, operational resource monitoring, business transaction monitoring, business transaction management and application performance monitoring, management has the tools to develop a plan for transitioning to the cloud that enables business growth with minimal financial burden.

Now, an IT enterprise that supports retail business can compare options based on the value provided instead of only its cost to implement in-house. The real costs of supporting a service locally, versus paying for that service on an as-needed basis as a cloud-based service are easier to identify when application performance monitoring is providing real-time data.

Lifecycle Management for Cloud Computing Expansion

Application performance monitoring (APM) also supports IT lifecycle management so a business can determine which services will most benefit from a move to the cloud, and when. Then once the move is made, if the business chooses the right solution, the same APM solution can ensure efficient and accurate support for the services being accessed on the cloud.

If knowledge in business is power, then application performance monitoring provides business IT departments with the information needed to make the best decisions for IT cloud computing expansion.

Monitoring Cloud Computing Activities

Once the move to the cloud has been made, proactive monitoring of the applications running on the cloud and in the datacenter is necessary. Application performance monitoring enables safe migration to the cloud and the ability to phase migration to cloud computing so that the retail business continues to move forward, rather than suffering financial setbacks from the process.

Application performance monitoring is as important for IT performance on the cloud as it is for traditional IT enterprises . Up to 24% of IT time is dedicated to troubleshooting application issues unless an IT enterprise monitors all its interconnected applications. This is the only way to reduce troubleshooting and resolution time, or the MTTR (mean time to repair).

No one wants a move to the cloud to impact a business negatively. Customers demand trouble-free interactions with a retail business. By using the proactive prediction and outage avoidance capabilities of an application performance monitoring solution, IT staff can avoid spending all their time fixing the infrastructure and be available to help grow the business.

Establishing Cloud Governance

In the retail industry, it is easy to overlook the fact that IT is more than a structure that supports the retail operation. It is a business in itself. When it is operated with this factor in mind, it ceases to be a drain on the business. It becomes the backbone of the business.

Application performance management delivers the financial metrics needed by IT managers to manage assets so business costs aren't just reduced, but service to customers is enhanced. Governance includes everything from collecting historical application data and enabling dynamic queries, to detecting response time problems, bottlenecks, failures and application availability issues.  It should also determine the root cause of any failures and degradations that occur automatically alert IT about any events and even make automated responses to resolve the issues. 

The ability to govern transactions within the cloud requires visibility. An application performance monitoring tool that provides insight into every application crossing through the multiple tiers of the IT enterprise, including the integrated cloud applications is essential.

Whether the cloud is private or public, choosing the right application performance monitoring solution is important.  AutoPilot is designed to work with both the cloud and non-cloud IT structures used by retail business. When every aspect of the IT environment is embraced by the APM solution it means all business transactions are visible at all times and on all levels of the IT environment.

AutoPilot's application performance monitoring solution handles such issues as deep-dive transaction tracking, message tracking, operational monitors, and capacity planning by integrating a complex event processing (CEP) engine into its built-in, grid-based design. This enables predictive capabilities so that events within the cloud are visible.

Transaction tracing, automated root-cause isolation, performance analysis and the ability to determine potential business impact are all provided by AutoPilot's. Discover what other retail industry IT managers have learned. AutoPilot improves business process efficiencies and service levels, while reducing cost and managing risk.


Denise Rutledge enjoys researching and writing about technology products. She writes on many financial and business topics, including software solutions that impact business performance in the financial industry. In addition to working with clients to develop website content, she writes on how to make a living as a writer on her writing blog.

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