The concept of Cloud Computing has come to dominate the IT landscape of the 21st century. The popularity of the cloud and the benefits derived from it has certainly raised expectations not only from cloud hosting vendors, but also from cloud adopters. Interestingly, the retail sector, a booming sector in India, is seen adopting cloud computing as efficiently and effectively as the IT sector had done a few years back. And the result is unsurpassed. But in spite of so much developments taking place on the cloud front, we get to see unfounded cynicism built around it, which in a way is a big impediment in realizing the full power of the cloud.
Cloud computing for Retailers
Cloud computing is a metaphor for the ‘internet’. It represents a broad array of Web-based services aimed at allowing users to obtain a wide range of functional capabilities on a ‘pay-as-you-go’ basis that previously required tremendous hardware/ software investments and professional skills . Retailers today who are looking forward to do more with less have the right choice of migrating to a cloud computing model. It has been able to address three key challenges for retailers: focusing on core competencies, meeting unpredictable demands and improving customer service.
The number of offerings by IT vendors specifically catering to the retail segment is also on a rise. Microsoft India recently has announced the launch of Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online, the cloud version of the Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 that delivers new levels of productivity to sales, service and marketing organisations. To meet the requirements of Indian customers, the Hindi version of the application has also been introduced. Similarly, NEC India has set up a cloud computing infrastructure for which it has already started building applications. To this development, David Arambhan, Head Retail Solutions, India and Middle East said, “Our upcoming cloud computing initiative will help retailers, in both organised and unorganised sector, to adapt technologies for conducting their business operations through our cloud computing offerings.”
But what is it that is actually holding back retailers to build up the momentum in embracing cloud technology?
In his opinion, Mr. Nitin Aggarwal, Spokesperson, yebhi.com and bigshoebazaar.net stated that the adoption of cloud computing in the retail segment is still very low in the country. “Lack of infrastructural capabilities to host cloud based services and unequipped datacenters are responsible partly for the extremely low cloud penetration. India has still not come with par with many Western countries when it comes to cloud adoption.”
Many retailers do not shy away from stating security as one of the biggest concern when it comes to moving on to cloud. Their concern over how secured are their data and the kind of security measures taken by cloud providers to prevent any kind of breach of important information still persists.
It is to allay these fears that cloud providers have come up with many security measures, though with minimal success. The kind of a cloud computing model adopted by a customer also matters as some of the models are more secured than the rest. Also, a cloud customer before storing his data on the cloud has to have a proper insight into the following things:
- How sensitive or confidential is your data and how secured would be the data once it is stored on the cloud?
- What kind of security measures adopted by cloud vendors?
- What has been the vendor’s record management and compliance obligations?
- What are the vendor’s policies for data back-up and replication?
- Does the vendor have any disaster recovery plan?
There is a brighter prospective of looking at everything and it just needs the right approach of how we actually perceive things. The future is bright for cloud computing and it holds a lot of promise for those who are waiting to see it evolve. It is going to influence all hosting and application development in future and as many analysts have prophesied, cloud computing is going to be a path-breaking technology in times to come even if its potential has not been realised fully now.
Cloud Computing is indeed here to stay.