Author: Kelly Goetsch
Aimed at: IT managers and ‘web architects’
Reviewed by: Kay Ewbank
If you want to learn about scalable ecommerce will this book help you?
This is a book that’s aimed at business users and managers, making it rather too ‘big picture’ for developers. Having said that, the advice on putting together an ecommerce solution that scales still makes interesting reading.
Kelly Goetsch starts with a couple of introductory chapters on ecommerce – how it began and the way current systems are deployed. he then introduces cloud computing, and discusses auto-scaling. There’s a good chapter on building, maintaining and monitoring self-contained modular software stacks, and another nice introduction to virtualization in the cloud. One point about the entire book is that it is strictly vendor neutral; this is good in the sense of not limiting the choices of the reader, but does mean there’s a lack of practical detail in chapters such as the virtualization one. Content delivery networks are the next topic to be looked at. Goetsch contrasts static and dynamic content, and looks at options such as front end optimization and throttling.
Despite the title of the book, it’s only really in Part 3 of the book that Goetsch looks at the cloud in detail. He has a good chapter on architecture principles for the cloud where he looks at what makes ecommerce unique – the need to generate revenue, visibility, traffic spikes, security and statefulness. Next is a chapter on security that looks at specific security management systems and best practices. The use of multiple data centers and the problems this causes is the topic to be covered next. Goetsch considers options such as active/passive and active/active database tiers of varying degrees, and while he only describes what happens in high level terms, at least lays out the choices clearly. A chapter on the hybrid cloud gives a good description of the benefits of having your front-end for information that’s viewed, and only using the back-end servers for transactions, and how to achieve this. The book ends with a discussion of how you can move everything to the cloud, why to do it (and why not to do it). These last two chapters are probably the best in the book, and do a good job of explaining the options available.
Overall, this is a good introduction to ecommerce on the cloud. It’s mainly high level concept material with the occasional script thrown in. The descriptions are somewhat superficial, but at least they get the ideas across without losing the reader in too much technical noise. There are also some good diagrams showing how things fit together. This would be a good book to give to a manager who needs to understand the big picture, though the danger would be they’d then feel they were experts!