In order to increase operating efficiencies in the apparel and textile industry and have a well-managed supply value chain, members of an organization need to look beyond cutting labour costs to improve margins. The apparel and garment industry is especially hit by problems like unpredictable demand, changing customer preferences, short life cycles, difficulty in foreign trade, and fluctuating economic conditions. These concerns make it extremely important for companies to coordinate to reduce costs in areas like product development, inventory holding, fewer rejections, and optimum capacity utilization.
The intervention of information technology has played a vital role in providing support and practicality has become necessary for smooth functioning of operations. Cloud computing, a service in which services and storage are provided over the internet, has proved to be beneficial in tackling hurdles of the apparel and garment industry. Companies today are moving forward and considering different models of cloud computing suitable to their requirement. One such approach holding the interests of many is the hybrid model of cloud computing.
The public cloud platform allows the general public to have access to computing services like business processes, infrastructure, and applications by subscribing on a flexible or pay per use basis. Such services are owned and managed by cloud services providing organizations. While private clouds are operated only for a user organization providing restricted access to resources to be shared by employees for internal departments like human resources or marketing. Like the name suggests, hybrid cloud models make use of the combination of public and private cloud features as per their necessity.
Using hybrid clouds in apparel retail can help manage the scalability and cost. Many companies large and small are moving towards hybrid cloud computing solutions since the model provides a protected firewall for private functions and enough integration for public ones. The computing capabilities and the resources are co-owned and maintained by the apparel company and the cloud service provider. Hence a garment manufacturing company can use the public cloud for general computing and the private guarded cloud for store resources, customer data, product information, and other sensitive data. Hybrid cloud has put an end to the debate between private clouds versus public clouds by allowing companies to explore the best of both the worlds.
Leveraging on the hybrid model in an apparel industry can help accomplish many goals especially for small and medium scale enterprises. These small businesses can house less sensitive data in public cloud architecture and more sensitive data in private cloud architecture and save and get value for money for such a technology, which otherwise would cost a lot. Hybrid cloud computing is being adopted and becoming increasingly popular to manage IT solutions in organizations and many analysts in the IT industry predict that such a model can become a reality in fifty percent of companies by 2015.
Apparel retail especially clothing e-commerce sites can choose to switch to a hybrid cloud model for many operations to work in a seamless manner. Public cloud resources can be used for processing orders and managing the scalability characteristics of the resources. While the private cloud model can look after and work with the legal regulations, which involve high security data like personal payment information of customers that require strict governance. The transactional and order processing in the front end of a retail shop are placed in the public cloud using a hybrid solution, whereas, the payment and account management services remain protected in a private cloud using data storage devices and internal servers, which can be accessed by the authorized e-commerce organization personnel only.
Many cloud solutions providing companies today are able to provide a differentiated and satisfying experience for e-commerce apparel retailers. A customized infrastructure can help manage daily traffic and a strong hybrid cloud solution can also manage traffics during peak seasons like Christmas, Black Friday, Boxing Day, and free-shipping days. Also a hybrid delivery strategy lets an apparel retailer run applications and services across different clouds, different locations, and data centres. This means that the services, processes, and applications can be moved from one place to another without any hassles or complications.
Employing a hybrid model can save apparel e-tailers from the extra expense of buying exclusive hardware necessary for running operations smoothly. The flexibility of this model allows users to access data from any part of the world and ensures reliable connectivity between different locations and clouds. It also provides businesses with the opportunity of widening their reach beyond geographical barriers.
The only challenge with hybrid cloud computing is to be able to provide a seamless operation across platforms, hypervisors, and cloud application programming interfaces along with controlled security between the public and private clouds. Apparel e-tailers expect the ease of moving applications from one location to another without having to modify networking, policies, operational processes or managing tools. However, with technology evolving day by day in the field of cloud computing and the rising demand for hybrid models flourishing with the expansion of mobile commerce, IT companies are making efforts to prevent such bugs and making it a viable platform.