Four Reasons to Upgrade Your Small or Medium Business’s Website or App in the Cloud
Your website is the digital front door for your business and should both establish trust and make it easy for visitors to convert into customers. No matter what type of business you are in, customers expect to find and communicate with your business online at any time—whether it’s through an internet connection at home or on the go via a mobile device. As the bar for customer experiences keeps rising, cloud computing offers flexible and cost-effective solutions to help you remain competitive. With the cloud, it’s easy to stay up to date with the latest features and capabilities, so that you can offer customers easy access to cloud services, reliable e-commerce platforms, and information at the tap of a finger.
During the height of the pandemic, efforts to attract new customers and keep existing ones happy inevitably tilted toward online channels. Small and medium businesses (SMBs) with no (or limited) online presence raced to embrace cloud computing and build websites and mobile applications. In 2021, 71 percent of small businesses had a website, according to one study—up from just 50 percent in 2018.
But it’s not enough to build a basic website and hope that customers will come. Cloud computing offers a powerful alternative to managing sites and applications in-house, giving you the tools to open the digital front door to more customers.
The limits of traditional web hosting
It’s easy to spot a website that hasn’t been touched in several years or decades. The graphics are dated, the blog content isn’t current, and the mobile experience is less than ideal. If your website or app offers customers a poor experience, it can erode their trust—leading to frustration and taking business elsewhere.
Many SMBs find the online model they are using isn’t performing well for the following four reasons:
- Poor customer experience. Customers expect a high level of service and may abandon businesses after a poor online experience. Giving customers the experience they expect, including the ability to get information and consume products and services how and when they want, on any device, requires cutting-edge tools and skillsets. It also requires the time and resources to keep up with the latest technologies and features.
- Lack of scalability. Website traffic is often unpredictable, and you must be able to scale to support the seasonal spikes. The traditional method of paying for resources to support peak usage means those resources are often idle during periods of normal traffic, which costs the organization money. Think of this like keeping the lights on in your home during the daytime hours.
- Limited resources. Paying for the infrastructure, tools, and staff to build, support, and secure a digital business architecture stretches limited resources. Integrating and managing new technologies and applications, combined with the high demands of securing and protecting data and online assets, can overwhelm existing capabilities.
- Downtime and inconsistent performance. Slow or lost connections, dropped data, and downtime can all add up to lost business. On-premises approaches are often too expensive to reasonably meet the response time customers expect from an online business. In turn, these unmet expectations can lead to abandoned purchases and lost revenue.
In the following examples, we share how some SMBs are turning to Amazon Web Services to tackle these challenges and drive scalable, reliable, and seamless website and app experiences.
Example 1: Improve retention and engagement
With an internet penetration rate of 88 percent and growing, online media is gradually overtaking TV and print news as the main source of news for people in Malaysia. Malaysiakini has been a pioneer of online independent news in the country since 1999.
On an average day, the Malaysiakini website serves around 12,000 concurrent viewers. However, during peak periods, that figure skyrockets to over 1 million concurrent site visitors. The site experienced service limits from other cloud providers that led to downtime during these high traffic events. In addition, engineers became frustrated with a lack of visibility and granular controls on other providers’ platforms.
To minimize compute costs during peak news periods, Malaysiakini migrated to AWS, setting up static websites using Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3). “Amazon S3 offers high scalability and availability, as well as cost-efficient configurations. Our engineering team wants to handle high traffic volumes cost-efficiently, and our editorial team wants a custom webpage for big events. It’s a win-win for both teams,” says Eshwaren Manoharen, senior engineer at Malaysiakini.
The Malaysiakini website consumes 1 TB of data transfers each day—about 10 times what typical news sites consume—so offloading traffic where possible to Amazon Lightsail and Amazon S3 has proven to be a key strategy for controlling costs. SMBs like Lightsail because it helps them launch simple apps, create custom sites, business line-of-business software, and more.
On AWS, Malaysiakini no longer experiences downtime, improving readers’ retention and engagement, and updates take an average of 7 minutes, from writing to deploying code in production. This has significantly decreased the response time for software updates, enhancements, and bug fixes on the Malaysiakini site.
Example 2: Provide a seamless content experience
As one of the largest publishers of teen novels in Thailand for over 20 years, Jamsai has worked to deliver quality content and offer a seamless experience across all its platforms. The publisher needed to ensure that its consumers can access its content easily and rapidly, 24/7.
When Jamsai ran promotions or marketing activities, its website—running in high-speed rack servers in an on-premises data center—would encounter spikes in traffic. This would lead to website crashes and a poor user experience.
The publisher estimated around 2,000 users on its site any given time, but those numbers could spike to 5,000 or 10,000 users. This forced the business to consistently seek new servers with greater capacity to support its platform during marketing activities. However, the servers it acquired could only be used at up to 50 percent of its expected service life, and buying new servers was not sustainable in the long run.
To address these challenges, Jamsai migrated from its on-premises infrastructure and chose AWS for scalability, cost efficiency, and a range of solutions. “Since running on AWS, we’ve gained a consistent user experience and increased the effectiveness of our marketing plans,” says Budsara Pornprasertstri, chief executive officer at Jamsai. “Furthermore, we’ve achieved 40-percent cost-savings and have reduced our time to market from two months to one week to launch new services on our site.”
Example 3: Deliver modern applications faster
The rise of mobile applications is rapidly changing the status quo in the banking sector. Traditional banks are being forced to innovate, lest they be made obsolete by new entrants who are moving toward a “digital” user experience through mobile apps.
Unlike traditional banks, ME Bank in Australia services its customers through digital channels and via mobile banking applications. In 2010, the bank embarked on a four-year, $60 million program to upgrade its management tools and technological systems. However, ME Bank’s existing on-premises datacenter was not equipped to support the project’s demands.
To meet its project timeline, ME Bank decided to migrate its development and testing environments to AWS. The flexibility and scalability of the cloud enabled ME Bank to ramp up development and testing work and accelerate provisioning by up to six weeks, creating new environments in one day.
Migrating to AWS meant ME Bank could achieve its project milestones and keep the technology refresh program within its $60 million budget. “Within three months of starting to use AWS in November 2012, we delivered the first elements of the transformation program for release into production,” says Joel Fanning, enterprise architect at ME Bank. “Without AWS, all those deadlines would have slipped—at the cost of millions of dollars.”
With the cloud, SMBs don’t have to wait to build a better online experience and open the door to more customers. By 2025, 95 percent of new digital workloads are expected to be cloud-centric—up from 30 percent in 2021. By leveraging the power of cloud computing to enhance your website and app, you can access the features and capabilities your customers are demanding without the complexity or cost of trying to build from the ground up. You also gain:
- A consistent customer experience. The cloud provides organizations of any size (including SMBs) access to the tools, applications, and infrastructure to achieve the capabilities of a sophisticated site, without the maintenance overhead.
- Flexibility. Unpredictable spikes in web traffic no longer pose a material threat to online businesses, as the cloud makes scaling simple and cost-effective.
- Reliability. By leveraging an entire global network, your business need not rely solely on your own servers, mitigating the risk of slow or lost connections, dropped data, and downtime.