AjitLast week, Ajit Melarkode, managing director of Rackspace Asia-Pacific, and Tony Zhuang, co-founder of e-commerce eyewear retailer SmartBuyGlasses, sit down with TechNode for a joint interview on a wide-ranged discussion ranging from cloud strategies to website building tips for e-commerce retailers.

The U.S. managed cloud company Rackspace has been the foundation of SmartBuyGlasses.com infrastructure since 2008, helping the latter to expand beyond Australia, the market where the e-commerce platform started its business. Under the support of Rackspace, SmartBuyGlasses achieved the business goal to double
sales during the 2013 holiday season.

Rackspace is moving towards a managed cloud approach this year, helping companies to manage their cloud rather than only providing infrastructure services.

There has been rumors about a Rackspace acquisition by teleco CenturyLink recently.

According to Ajit, Rackspace differentiates itself from other services in offering hybrid cloud services of public cloud, private cloud, dedicated cloud, and most importantly, it combines the three.

“Public cloud is for everyone, but it is not necessarily for everything. So if you have applications that are not spiky in the usage, you are not going to make that much of economic cost for using public clouds.”

As more foreign infrastructure services like Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure are tapping Chinese market, Rackspace is also trying to find more opportunities in the emerging market.

Rackspace set up data center in Hong Kong in 2008 and started to explore Chinese market in 2009. Although the company don’t have data center in mainland China now, it cooperates with a lot of local partners to serve the market with Hong Kong as the stepping stone, said Ajit.

The cloud usage are different in various countries, Ajit noted. In China, a lot of the cloud usage are still private cloud, Singapore is more dominated by public cloud. It is a combination of public cloud and dedicated cloud in India, while the U.S. and U.K. still have very strong public cloud role.

Another difference between various markets is what the cloud is used for. In the west, we see a lot of cloud usage for disaster recovery, etc. In China, cloud are used for initial usages like backup, storage, but it is changing rapidly, said Ajit.

Rackspace Asia-Pacific focused on helping westbound Asia-Pacific companies to go global and western companies to come in to APAC region, he noted.

As startup scene is booming, Ajit thinks many entrepreneurs rush to set up their company websites without identifying how their website will be used and the type of IT infrastructure needed to successfully support it. Here are some takeaways from Ajit for starting an online business.

–Determine the focus of your website

The first step when setting up an online business is to determine what you’re getting online for. In fact, pinpointing and understanding your online presence will determine what services and solutions are most critical for you to invest in.

For example, if you’re mainly building a website for discovery and brand awareness, then your biggest investment should be in search engine optimisation to boost the visibility of your site. However, if the primary reason is for e-commerce, then investments should be made on the user interface and security to ensure the customer experience is simple, quick, and secure.

–Look to the future, not the present

It’s also important to build your online business with a future outlook in mind. Companies should think in terms of the future of their business, asking themselves: who will be using the site, how many visitors are expected, and how often will the content need to be updated?

As a business grows, so does traffic and content. Therefore, an investment should be made in a flexible and scalable hosting solution, letting you build capacity when it’s needed.

This is especially important for e-commerce companies, as traffic most likely peaks during the holidays or has seasonal spurts. To be successful, companies need to implement an IT solution to effectively manage it, ensuring the website stays up and running despite variations in traffic.

–Your website is a representation of you

Remember, your website is the online face of your brand. If a customer or a potential customer’s first experience with your site is poor, there’s no guaranteeing that they will come back. Therefore, as a start-up who’s just breaking into the market, it is essential your site is optimized, high performing and always running, ensuring a seamless experience for your customer from day one.

Please click here for interview with Tony Zhuang in Part II.

image credit: Rackspace