Amazon Web Services (AWS) has experienced a meteoric rise in both popularity and capabilities since launching back in 2006. Now, the cloud infrastructure offers over 200 services from data centers all over the world. Boasting over a million active users in more than 240 countries and territories with a 32% share of the market, it is the most successful cloud infrastructure company.
So exactly what is AWS Global Infrastructure and why have so many opted to use it? In this article, we’ll dive into the components of the infrastructure and detail it could be of benefit to you as an eCommerce merchant.
Components of AWS Global Infrastructure
AWS builds its global infrastructure with the following components: Availability Zones (AZs), Regions, Edge Locations, and Regional Edge Caches. Let’s take a look at exactly what these components are and how they come together to deliver AWS’s superior service.
Availability Zones (AZs)
These are the physical data centers of AWS. It’s where everything that interacts with the cloud, like hosts database, storage, compute and network resides. Each AZ has one or more data centers, and at least one other AZ located within the same area that is linked by fiber-optic connections.
Multiple Availability Zones are linked with low latency for resilient applications and services that are highly available. (Source: Cloud Academy)
The AZs in the same geographical location are built to be fault-proof and have low latency. To achieve fault tolerance, each AZ uses its own power and network connectivity which lessens the impact on the stability of AWS should one fail.
This is the geographical area in which multiple AZs sit. In every Region, there are at least 2 AZs that are close together and linked as mentioned above, however, each Region is isolated from others. As of April 2020, AWS Global Infrastructure spans over 22 regions across the globe.
Current and soon coming Regions for AWS Global Infrastructure (Source: Amazon)
Edge locations are AWS sites in major cities and places with a high population density. They consist of CloudFront and Amazon’s Content Delivery Network. Here, AWS services cache data. Therefore, the vast majority of end-users can access content and use services with little delay, even if they are geographically far from the origin server. That's why a European consumer accessing a website that uses EC2 instances in the US will be redirected to their nearest EU Edge Location to quickly load content.
Regional Edge Caches
This sits between the CloudFront Origin server that is being used and the Edge Locations. They have a much larger cache width than Edge Locations, so Regional Edge Caches are utilized to store cached data that expired in the Edge Locations.
Located closer to the end-user, Regional Edge Caches reduce latency for people accessing content that has expired in the Edge Location. (Source: IP Specialist)
With this expanded storage capacity, AWS Global Infrastructure is able to further reduce delay as expired data does not need to be retrieved from the Origin server. Instead, they can be accessed from the Regional Edge Cache which is much closer to the end-user when compared to the Origin server.
Benefits of AWS Global Infrastructure for eCommerce
Now that you have an understanding of AWS Global Infrastructure and how it works, let’s see how making use of it for your eCommerce store can come in handy, particularly during BFCM.
Security & Data Protection
AWS Global Infrastructure has its components in a vast number of global locations. A great benefit of this is that compliance with regulations, laws, and governance relating to data storage becomes simpler for cross-border eCommerce merchants.
Users of AWS have complete control over the region where the data physically is - they can be placed in any of the Regions containing AWS’s data center. This is extremely useful for e-merchants with international markets in the EU.
According to the GDPR, all data collected on EU citizens must be stored in the EU or a region with similar levels of protection stated in the regulation. For American companies, having complete access to data servers in the EU is a must. With AWS these servers are easily accessible, hence, eCommerce merchants can provide the required levels of security without much thought or additional funds.
Furthermore, security is enhanced as data is encrypted before leaving the origin server meaning your site’s data is automatically protected. The data centers are also monitored 24/7 to ensure the confidentiality, integrity and availability of data.AWS users can encrypt any data at any point.
High availability & performance
With high traffic expected for BFCM 2021, the ability for stores to handle such an influx of visitors is sure to be a concern at the top of eCommerce merchants’ minds. One of the stand-out capabilities of AWS Global Infrastructure is its high availability which leads to greater stability. In fact, AWS has the highest network availability of any cloud provider, giving a large beacon of hope for stores that fear being crippled by high traffic.
Additionally, performance is enhanced as AWS Regions are closer to the end-user allowing for reduced delay and high network quality.
Flexible with a range of tools
There are a vast number of useful services available to businesses that use AWS. This includes software, analytics, networking, and databases. Let’s have a quick look at some of the services that would be useful for eCommerce during BFCM.
- Amazon Pinpoint: this service can be used to deliver personalized marketing communications over various channels including email, SMS, push and even voice. Customer segments can be created using existing customer lists, attributes, or with mobile and web application data. With 90% of consumers stating they are more likely to shop with a brand that provides personalized offers, this would surely be a valuable resource during the holiday sales period.
- Amazon Aurora: this is a database that provides better performance and availability than traditional enterprise options at a cost-effective price. Amazon Aurora is 5x faster than MySQL and up to 3x faster than PostgreSQL. Databases can also be copied in different global regions so you can provide lightning-speed services for your customers no matter where they are. Speed is extremely critical during holiday events. Shoppers will leave a desktop website that takes longer than 2 seconds to load, and more than half of mobile users abandon a site that takes more than 3 seconds to render. Providing high-speed experiences will be the key to securing purchases for this BFCM.
- AWS Auto Scaling: there’s no denying how big BFCM will be in 2021. With AWS Auto Scale you can prepare multiple resources in your store to handle huge influxes of traffic. AWS Auto Scaling lets you build scaling plans that automate how groups of different resources respond to changes in demand.
- AWS Wavelength: take advantage of the speeds of 5G with this product. AWS Wavelength embeds AWS compute and storage services within 5G networks so you can develop and scale ultra-low latency applications. This is great for delivering high-quality live videos should you wish to tap into the live stream shopping trend over the holidays.
- AWS SageMaker: with this, businesses can build, train and deploy machine learning (ML) models. Typically a laborious process requiring a number of specialists and resources, AWS SageMaker uses tools that automate manual processes, reducing human error and hardware costs, hence making ML a viable option for all. E-merchants can use ML to get advanced analytics of customer data, which can go a long way in aiding personalization or be used to detect back-end security threats.
AWS also provides a lot of flexibility. Users of it can choose their preferred OS, web application platform, and programming language to name but a few. With AWS eCommerce merchants can fulfill virtually all of their cloud computing and IT needs.
Easy to use
Another great feature of AWS Global Infrastructure is that it is pretty easy to use. The interface of AWS Management Console is user-friendly, well-documented web services APIs are provided to allow merchants to access the platform. As a result, you do not need a very high level of expertise or technical skills to make use of the AWS Global Infrastructure, however, it is recommended to have an IT professional manage the system.
It is also much easier to implement programs, software, and entire IT ecosystems as there is no need for an on-site server to fulfill any IT needs. Moreover, should you wish to expand the services and applications offered by AWS, you can do so instantly. Plus, your existing products can grow with you, making scaling up a breeze. Everything IT-related is managed in one place so users of AWS Global Infrastructure can easily keep on top of everything during the busy holiday season. Sounds great, right? Well, if you wish to migrate over from another platform to AWS, you can do so with confidence as you can load any service or software you want in a virtual ecosystem.
Unlimited server capacity
Did you know that 560,000 hard drives fail every month in the US alone due to storage issues? This is something you definitely want to avoid over BFCM. Otherwise, you’ll risk your site failing. Additionally, an unlimited server capacity will make it easy for websites to handle the high traffic that is expected to come during holiday sales. E-commerce merchants can also expand without any service disruption thanks to this capability.
AWS Global Infrastructure is a powerful cloud infrastructure. It helps to meet consumer expectations when it comes to site speed and stability. Additionally, it supports e-merchants seamlessly in adding new web services and applications to level up eCommerce offerings and scale as the business grows. These capabilities will be of prime importance if you want your BFCM campaign to be stress-free.
In fact, Product Filter & Search by Boost Commerce uses Premium AWS which ensures 99% or higher uptime and accommodates 3x higher spike in web traffic. So, Boost users can rest assured knowing that any big sales campaigns will be carried out without a glitch.
For more keys to BFCM success, take a look at these tips on how to build a successful BFCM campaign in the wake of the pandemic, and don’t forget this guide on how to propel omnichannel customer engagement so you’re in prime position this holiday season. Good luck!