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ADVERTORIAL: Retail success starts in the data centre

More and more Australian retailers are choosing cloud-based solutions to run their online business. According to a recent report from Telsyte, the Australian cloud market is forecast to nearly double to $1.049 billion by 2020.

Cloud solutions carry many benefits, including the ability to scale functionality up and down as customer demand fluctuates and the convenience of outsourcing responsibility for up-time and security to providers.

Often, however, there is a disconnect between the company delivering the cloud solution and the company running the data centre where the solution is hosted, and this can cause problems for retailers.

To close that gap, SAP has built new data centre infrastructure in Sydney specifically designed to support local deployments of its cloud-based commerce, marketing, billing, sales and service solutions, SAP Hybris. This is SAP Hybris’ third such data centre in the world and the first in Asia Pacific. (One SAP Hybris data centre is in Europe and the other is in the US.)

“This demonstrates the importance of the ANZ market to us and the maturity of this market in terms of how quickly things are moving towards cloud,” Stuart O’Neill, head of SAP Hybris ANZ, said.

Two customers are already live in the data centre since it opened on in November 2016, and at least three more are expected to be up and running by March 2017, according to O’Neill.

The move sets SAP apart as one of a very few solution providers to operate its own local data centre in Australia, delivering many benefits to customers for whom website load time, responsiveness and data security are absolutely crucial.

“Having a data centre dedicated to SAP Hybris means the entire solution stack has been specifically built to optimise the performance of the e-commerce solution. Customers are guaranteed that the applications run extraordinarily effectively and are highly responsive and dynamic,” O’Neill said.

The importance of scalability in e-commerce solutions cannot be overstated. Major online shopping events like Click Frenzy and Cyber Monday place enormous strain on backend systems. If retailers don’t have reliable scalable solutions in place, they risk losing sales and customers.

This is something O’Neill witnessed first-hand in the lead-up to Christmas in 2016: “In the US recently, a lot of retailers with on-premise solutions found they were unable to scale their environment quick enough and had major outages during peak trading periods. However, everyone who was on our data centres actually did very nicely and were able to deal with that traffic.”

With the opening of the SAP Hybris data centre in Australia, retailers now have a local answer to the scalability problem. And there are further advantages.

For one, retailers know their data resides in Australia and complies with Australia’s requirements for data security and privacy. This is especially important for businesses in the public sector.

“If we had the data centre in some other country, their local legislation might not protect the rights of your personal data,” O’Neill said.

Having a local data centre also means maintenance and upgrades are easy to carry out. SAP’s own operations team is based nearby in Sydney and monitors the data centre on a daily basis.

“We manage security end-to-end all the way up the application. We run a very broad security program with checks and balances coming from internal and external audits,” O’Neill said. SAP Hybris’ data centre has an ISO 27001 certification and is fully PCI compliant.

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