Amazon has always been in the business of selling books, since its creation in 1995 (A Retail Revolution Turns 10, 2005). Amazon started out as a three person operation in a garage, whose sole item for sale was books; as the years went by, Amazon started incorporating other items into its repertoire (A Retail Revolution Turns 10, 2005). Amazon has always been an online retailer, focused on delivering the highest quality of service to individuals at the lowest possible prices, but their entry into the online marketplace was books. By reviewing the bookstore’s hardware, software, databases, data communications, internet technology, collaboration tools, and security, it is possible to see how Amazon’s bookstore has become what it is today.
Amazon is in possession of sixty nine different data and fulfillment centers as of 2012, and they expect to continue to grow (Wasserman, 2012). The online retailer is expected to continue growing as long as the market demands, in keeping with the founder’s original desire to grow as big and as fast as possible by working to meet necessary demand as quickly and efficiently as possible (Wasserman, 2012). In order to meet growing demands, not only is Amazon working to continually improve and expand, but they have also acquired Kiva, a robot manufacturer, which will serve to allow them to more fully automate these different data and fulfillment centers (Wasserman, 2012).
Amazon uses a variety of different software services in order to be able to work to create the online retail experience it offers to its customers. The servers used by Amazon run Linux, which is considered to be far more stable than other operating systems that may be used on a server (Amazon Architecture, 2007). In addition to using the most stable server architecture, their online experience is created through the use of Oracle, C++, Perl, Mason, Java, Jboss, and servlets (Amazon Architecture, 2007). The use of these specific programs works to ensure that Amazon remains fully scalable without having to perform any complete system overhauls on the preexisting structure. There is no need to change programming languages in order to allow for expansion, merely a few simple lines of coding to rewrite and Amazon is good to go. Amazon originally used a two-tier monolith platform, though they quickly found this system would not suffice, and moved to the system that they currently use to this day, a system that they had to build on their own, as there was no preexisting software that would service a corporation of their size in the manner that they desired (Amazon Architecture, 2007).
Amazon’s database originally used back end databases supported by a front end application; however an increasing amount of customers, combined with an increasing amount of items, continued to stress the system until 2001 when it became clear that their current setup would no longer be able to support the company’s continued growth (Amazon Architecture, 2007). At that time it was determined that the best way to handle Amazon’s database was to split it up into a myriad of smaller databases, each with a separate service interface, allowing for sections to be accessed at a time (Amazon Architecture, 2007). The architecture of these databases it built around various services, and the service-oriented architecture allows Amazon the affordability of isolation and the ability to grow at a rapid pace (Amazon Architecture, 2007).
Amazon’s data communications may seem a little complicated at first, but the system is far simpler than it appears. As of 2005, Amazon was the proud owner of the three largest Linux databases in the world, “with a total capacity of 7.8 terabytes (TB), 18.5 TB, and 24.7 TB respectively” (Layton, 2013). The data warehouse is connected to the web servers, fulfillment centers, content servers, and email servers, all of which must be connected with Amazon’s corporate offices and the consumers who use their services. There are multiple systems of redundancy put into place in order to ensure that their store remains always open; as such, one of the security methods is to keep their provider for internet a closely guarded secret.
Amazon owns a variety of different collaboration tools, many of which have been bought in recent years, or even recent months, and they work to push out their own collaborative tools as they find a need. GoodReads and Matchbook are just two of the collaborative tools that they offer at this time. Amazon is constantly on the lookout for new and innovative collaborative tools which work to ensure that the needs of the customer are being met before they realize that there was a lack.
Amazon utilizes Netscape Secure Commerce Server with SSL in order to be able to keep their customer data confidential. The credit cards and personal information of all their customers are maintained in a fully separate database that is not internet accessible, removing the ability of hackers to access the data (Layton, 2013).
Amazon works to ensure that they are doing everything possible to provide the highest quality customer service, make sure that they are effectively and efficiently meeting all customer demands, and working in as many ways as possible in order to create the most positive experience they are able. By working to develop many of their own tools in house, something that has come out of necessity due to the company’s expansion, Amazon is able to work to address all issues that come up when they come up instead of having to rely on any third party to do so. Their systems are as complex as are needed in order to maintain their massive databases, and their services are as secure as they can possibly be, in order to work to provide their customers with the peace of mind needed in order to remain continued shoppers.
- A retail revolution turns 10. (2005, July 10). Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com
- Amazon architecture. (2007, September 18). Retrieved from http://highscalability.com/amazon-architecture
- Layton, J. (2013). How amazon works. Retrieved from http://money.howstuffworks.com/amazon1.htm
- Wasserman, S. (2012, May 29). The amazon effect. Retrieved from http://www.thenation.com/article/168125/amazon-effect