Final Paper Essay
Founded in 1995 by Jeff Bezos, Amazon. com has become one of the largest known online stores in the world. In 1995, Amazon. com sold its first book online, which was shipped from Bezos’s garage in Bellevue, Washington (Amazon. com Mission Statement, 2012). Many may not know that Amazon. com had a slow start because their online layout was not appealing. Within a few years Bezos attracted a few investors who took interest in his venture and invested approximately $140,000. Bezos decided to use the money to create a more appealing website to attract more customers. The sales for the next three years surpassed Bezos’s expectations.
After analyzing the sales data, he found that people were not only purchasing domestically, but also from around the world. Amazon. com has grown from a small company to a worldwide business in just a few short years. This rapid growth requires a company to reevaluate how it does business if it plans to expand or maintain its marketplace for the future. Amazon. com continues to grow, and they stand behind their mission statement, “Our vision is to be the earth’s most customer centric company; to build a place where people can come to find and discover anything they might want to buy online” (Amazon, 2012, Company facts).
Amazon. com is accomplishing their mission. From that first sale in 1995, they went from selling that one book, to selling thousands upon thousands of products to people all over the world. Customers can buy almost anything they want on Amazon. com. Since Amazon. com is an internet only retailer and the customers consisting of people around the world, anyone with access to the Internet can type in Amazon. com into the web browser and start purchasing products they want. The only downfall is that the company cannot reach those who do not have access to the Internet because there are no local stores to visit.
Internet World Stats (2012) shows that only 34. 3% of the population uses the Internet, but had a growth rate of 566. 4% from 2000 to 2012. So, although there is significant global growth, Amazon. com cannot reach the majority of the population. But based on the rapid rise in use over the past decade, it is fair to say that a larger market is not far away. For those current 34% who do have access to the Internet, can enter Amazon. com and see a newly designed website. The website consists of a white background with pictures featuring the most popular products for sale.
Customers can click on the items they are interested in, and the website will go to the description as well as other similar items they could be interested in. This is up-selling at its finest. There is also an added toolbar on the left side of the website that allows someone to choose a category. The navigation is simple and efficient that has the perfect combination of text and pictures. Once the customer has decided on an item, they can easily place products into their shopping cart and continue shopping, as if they were at a supermarket.
Upon completion of the shopping, the customer can now check out with confidence with the secure ability to pay by any major credit card, Paypal, or Amazon credit. In order to have all of the mentioned features to its website, which is user friendly and appealing to the customer, many details need to go into its design. Amazon uses a combination of technologies to produce a website to work efficiently and effectively for all users. This technology includes hardware, software, databases, data communications, Internet technologies, collaboration tools, and security. In its inception, Amazon. om used simple technologies, but it has now become one of the largest companies in the world so their technology needed to evolve as well. When, Amazon. com was set up in 1995 as an e-commerce store since it did not have a physical location for its web services. It has initially used companies like Cisco systems for its networking needs, but they went into another direction because they can purchase direct and at a lower cost. According to Metz (2012): Google, Amazon, Microsoft, and Facebook buy more networking hardware than practically anyone else on earth (…).
Over the past few years the giants of the web have changed the way they purchase tens of thousands of the network switches inside the massive data centers driving their online services, quietly moving away from U. S. -based sellers to buy cheaper gear in bulk straight from China and Taiwan. Amazon started with basic technology and has evolved into several platforms such as Linux, Oracle, C++, Perl, Mason, Java, Jboss, and Servlets (Amazon Architecture, 2011). The Linux OS is the reason why Amazon’s massive technology keeps running. Amazon possesses the three largest Linux databases totaling a capacity of 7. terabytes (Layton, 2007). Linux is user-friendly and has its own firewall that can protect its customers’ transactions. Amazon’s database warehouse consists of 28 Hewlett Packard servers with four CPUs per node (Layton, 2007). They run Oracle 9i database software within this database warehouse that includes a large database server, which assists in protecting the servers from unauthorized users. It also has the capabilities of running queries. Two of the functions of the database warehouse query are historical data, and ETL (extract, transform, and load).
ETL is used to collect data from one source and integrate it to another. This data is then used for the back-end operations of Amazon. In 2007, a new database, SimpleDB, was added to Amazon’s IT infrastructure. SimpleDB is a web service for running queries on structured data in real-time (Amazon Web Services, 2012). There are many benefits to SimpleDB. It increases ease of processing while decreasing the development costs. The queries data is stored in sequence, which assists in future use. SimpleDB also ensures secure, encrypted communication between a customer, an application and the domain by providing an https end point.
Amazon integrates SimpleDB with AWS Identity and Access Management, which someone can create a user or a group level control over access of SimpleDB domains and operations (Amazon Web Services, 2012). Now in the event of a disaster caused by an act of nature, crime or terrorism, Amazon must protect its resources by all means necessary. As the saying goes “knowledge is power” and Amazon has this in spades with one of the largest databases in the world. To protect this resource, security is the key. Amazon uses the SSL (secure socket layer) protocol.
They employ the Netscape Secure Commerce Server to assist in this area of technology. All credit card information is stored on a separate database which is not Internet accessible. This gives customers the confidence that their information will be safe in the event of Amazon being subject to a system compromise by an un-authorized source such as an act of terrorism. But they must do more than having an outstanding protocol to protect information. It must also have the ability to recover all data that processes through its servers. Amazon, in its due-diligence, has created such a back-up.
Its actual locations are not known to the public for security reasons. But what is known about its basic security measures would make robbing a bank a walk in the park. According to Amazon. com, the servers are housed in nondescript facilities, and critical facilities have extensive setback and military grade perimeter control berms as well as other natural boundary protection (Amazon Web Services, 2013). Access to these facilities is also tightly controlled to prevent any crime or cyber-terrorism attack. They use state of the art surveillance systems to monitor the internal and external perimeter.
Those that are permitted into the facilities must pass through a two-factor authentication no fewer than three times just to access the floors containing data storage. Any visitor is logged and monitored by an escort at all times during their time in the facility. If it is determined that the access is no longer needed, although they may remain employed by Amazon, the credentials are immediately revoked. To further enhance these protocols, the physical and electronic logs are audited routinely (Amazon Web Services, 2013).
For Amazon to be further prepared for a disaster, it is also important to hire the best and brightest personnel in the fields of database, cloud computing among other identified entities determined by the company. Again, this list should not be disclosed based on the sensitivity and expertise required as it may make targets of the individuals with the skill sets and increase the chances of a compromise. Once the areas of expertise are identified, keeping and maintaining this list in a secure location is just as important as the security logs.
So with the types of items to protect identified, with the how, the purpose and who is going to protect what. It becomes almost equally important to practice these plans put in place as the plans themselves. Otherwise you are placing the well laid plans to chance of a smooth recovery in the event of a disaster. Upon implementing a run-through of the protocols, the next step is to have a hot-wash with all personnel involved to see how the tasks were executed and potential downfalls. By doing this last critical step in planning, you are able to alter and plan accordingly and realize previously unknown vulnerabilities.