Moving to Cloud as an E-Commerce Business Leader: Vital Lessons Learned from Ascend Commerce’s Move-to-Cloud Transformation

14 Sep 2021

Today, different businesses across the globe are faced with the challenges of shifting to Digital Transformation. Even big organizations must adjust to the world in the New-Normal era. Mr. Jorge Luis Perez Renteria, Head of DevOps of Ascend Commerce says the challenges that his company is faced with and the decision to utilize Cloud technology to fulfill the company’s mission of delivering the best products and services to its customers.

Introducing Ascend Commerce and Its Great Belief in Working for the Customers

Ascend Commerce is a leading Thai E-Commerce business operator in Southeast Asia that focuses on doing comprehensive online business as the E-Commerce solution provider to various businesses such as WeMall, an online department store that sells popular brand-name merchandizes, and WeLoveShopping, a web-based online shop that offers a wide variety of products. It also offers other innovative services such as E-Procurement service supplying one-stop solution and platform for electronic purchasing under the name of Pantavanij, Fulfillment & Logistics service for developing innovations for warehouse and logistics systems under the name of Aden, one-stop marketing service under the name of Egg Digital, a platform selling quality stationery and office equipment under the name of Goodchoiz as well as a travelling and recreation services under the name of Ascend Travel.
Focusing on the core value, Jorge stated that Ascend Commerce always put the customers on its top priority. The company creates a secured environment by conducting the business with integrity as well as allocates ownership and provides something meaningful for Thailand. The key to this success is Ascend Commerce employees who create new innovations. In order to develop highly competent employees, the company also places importance on creating a great workplace culture.

Ascend Commerce and the Great Challenges in Digital Transformation Era

Jorge views that, even though nowadays a lot of difficulties come from many challenges that the company is normally faced with, they are not new. What needs to be done is always accepting the changes. The company’s challenges due to the changes in the Digital Transformation era include how to maintain the good quality and how to keep offering the products and services that meet the market demand. The answer lies in the company’s flexibility to those changes as well as the ability to constantly adjust its system and services in order to respond to the new market.

Ascend Commerce Ready to Take on COVID-19 Crisis and Move Forward

Due to COVID-19 pandemic, Ascend Commerce needs to change its operation mode. But, as the company has already been running online business, work mode adjustment does not affect its operation in a big way. It starts with allowing the employees to work from home and then preparing them for the adjustment to different kinds of digital work modes. Jorge reveals that all these are made possible through the executive’s prompt and decisive decision that drives the preparation for this uncertain situation. Besides the company’s internal work mode adjustment, Ascend Commerce also has to change its digital infrastructure to prevent any possible security risks.
Hiring specialists in this era is another challenge that Ascend Commerce has overcome. During COVID-19 pandemic, the professional cloud solution developers move to different places. The company decided to hire more employees from all over the country or even from overseas and allow them to work from anywhere to avoid travel.

Driving Forces to Move to Cloud Transformation

All these forementioned issues have become the driving forces for Ascend Commerce to turn to Cloud as the solution for delivering products and services that create a great experience for its customers.
The important reason behind the company’s utilization of Cloud is the fact that the company wants to change through the platform that supports application development with more flexibility. With Cloud’s strengths of being user-friendly and providing quick and efficient support to Prove of Concept (POC), new ideas can be promptly tested to see how efficient they are in the matter of minutes instead of weeks as before. Moreover, the solution can be properly scaled to the demand level, ready to support millions of users depending on the situation.
Jorge also portrays the overall market at the beginning of COVID-19 pandemic of having 10 times higher demand for Fulfillment and Delivery than before. If the company had continued to use on-premises system, it would have experienced the trouble of adding more hardware to support the increasing demand which would take quite a long time to handle. And, in case of dropping demand, the company would have had to deal with non-productive costs of idle equipment, impacting the company’s overall administration. Therefore, Cloud is the innovation that Ascend Commerce has chosen to utilize in its operation.

Ascend Commerce’s Actual Application of Cloud to Its Businesses

To shed some light on how Ascend Commerce applies Cloud to its many businesses, Jorge mentions his company’s 3 strategies as follows,
1. Cloud-native Small Application Strategy
Ascend Commerce develops its applications to be Cloud-native and creates small applications that work together in order to make it easier to utilize some parts of the application, for example, payment system that can be used in the company’s other services. This is a more prudent strategy than developing standalone applications separately. It also helps reduce repetitive work in software development.
2. Application Organizing Strategy that Adds Value to Business
Ascend Commerce constantly improves its application development by following up and studying its performance to identify the new concepts to be developed and to discontinue the ineffective ones as well as to learn the users’ feedback through tracking the errors and the promptness of each application in responding to the users’ needs. Once the working team finds out the feedback, every internal team will be informed of what has been affecting the business and then the feedback itself will be used to further improve the company’s products and services.
3. Ongoing Development and Improvement Strategy
The main goal of Cloud-native application framework is to develop the applications that add value to business. The company is determined to develop the applications that work faster or to produce more innovative services. However, not every innovation is a brand-new creation. Sometimes an existing application can be further developed and updated to make it more ready to be put into use and work on Cloud. Eventually, everything will be connected, becoming the better solution and platform that are worthy of investments in terms of labor and money.

Cloud Is the Answer to Adding Value to Business

If you wonder how Cloud technology can give an advantage to business and operation, Jorge shares some of the benefits of applying Cloud to his business in the fields of the infrastructure that promotes flexibility, reduced costs of solution development, faster operation, and increased employees’ effectiveness.
1. Reduced System Complexity
When integrating an application into a server or a data center, what need to be taken into consideration are the size and the location of the selected data center that would provide the maximum security. In case of a system malfunction at one data center, there should be another backup data center to support the continuation of the domestic operations. Cloud application can lower the complexity of system installation. In case of problems, Cloud service provider can be contacted to help adjust the service according to the situation and the location.
2. Sustainable Flexibility
As flexibility is one of Cloud’s strong points, when there is a new project, the company can combine its operation with Cloud system and calculate the suitable scope of internal infrastructure needed to support the current market situation. When there is a smaller number of users, the system can be scaled down accordingly. On the other hand, when the application performs well and becomes more popular, the utilized infrastructure can be expanded. The operation can even be moved to another section of the infrastructure conveniently, enabling the organization to deliver its services more promptly, which will eventually lead to a better experience for the customers.
3. Better Value for Money
Besides its flexibility, Cloud also allows the company to have a better control over the costs of product and service development. Instead of making a big investment to develop a big solution like previously, the company now develops small applications and checks the performance of each part one by one. Then, the parts that receive positive feedback will be further developed. It is considered a way to decrease solution development costs and operational expenses.
4. The Right Focus Leading to the Right Work Direction
When application management is more simplified through Cloud, the employees can have a better focus on developing the products and services according to the company’s target, without having to worry about the infrastructure system or wasting time on handling technical problems, but with the confidence in the reliable system.

Ascend Commerce X AWS, the Force Behind Cloud

The vital factor that enables Ascend Commerce to deliver its products and services uninterruptedly is its partnership with a world-class Cloud platform service provider like Amazon Web Services (AWS). Jorge shares his opinion on AWS’ services in various aspects including the availability zone that covers many countries, making it more convenient to expand the business to different regions, and the support from AWS’ customer service team from the get-go, starting from the architecture designing, providing troubleshooting support, organizing training sessions to equip the customers with more knowledge and expertise in Cloud application, making the transition smoother and easier for novice users. As for the security aspect, if a possible security risk is identified, AWS will provide a suggestion as well as design a method to prevent such a problem from happening. Moreover, AWS is strong in offering a wide variety of services, tools and products that can be utilized specially to meet E-Commerce business demand. They are user-friendly and scalable according to the demand. Therefore, AWS has become one of Cloud service providers that have the most comprehensive ecosystem in the market.

True IDC by Your Side

Another significant Cloud-service-providing partner behind Ascend Commerce’s success is True IDC that has fulfilled the aspect of Cloud solution design suitable for running the business in Thailand. With a team of Thai specialists who have the knowledge and expertise to deliver their onsite support, there is no language barrier, enabling the smooth communication and cooperation with the company’s employees.
“With True IDC’s support in terms of providing the infrastructure and the suitable technological solutions, Ascend Commerce can fully focus on developing commercial products without having to worry about the back-office system, resulting in the quicker work process.” Jorge shares.
Furthermore, True IDC’s management approach is in line with Ascend Commerce’s business operation that aims to generate revenues while reducing operational costs. Therefore, Ascend Commerce often partners with True IDC to manage the budget for its solution and to have a more effective control over its expense management for each solution while lowering the company’s operational costs. In addition, as True IDC is a Thai company located in Thailand, it helps fulfill the requirements and restrictions in terms of payment and tax. It is undeniable that True IDC is indeed the most suitable choice.
Lastly, Jorge wraps up the interview by stating that, for those who are looking for a Cloud solution provider that can ensure the company’s sustainable growth, True IDC is a trustworthy choice, with the expertise this field and the understanding of the culture in Thai companies, to support your organization to move to Cloud Transformation, following the successful trail that Ascend Commerce has blazed in utilizing Cloud in its operation and reaching the target in the digital transformation era.