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Interview with Mary Chen from Era Software

Team eCommerce Next interviewed Mary Chen from Era Software to get more insights on the challenges e-commerce businesses face today as it relates to log management. Following is our interview with her:

What kind of company is Era Software? What sort of products does it offer?

Era Software  empowers e-commerce businesses to ingest, store and analyze log data at petabyte-scale. With the company’s observability and analytics platform, EraSearch, modern IT teams eliminate complexity and engineering toil while managing all their log data in real-time, at up to a 90% lower cost than alternatives.

The fact is, enterprises today are besieged by a tsunami of log data – coming from cloud environments including containerized applications and microservices. To help enterprises better manage this onslaught of data, the company delivered EraSearch, an observability and analytics platform optimized for real-time, low-cost log management. EraSearch collects, indexes, and analyzes log data from the cloud, Kubernetes, Content Delivery Networks (CDNs), the edge, as well as applications to provide real-time visibility into all log data.

Last month Era Software also introduced Era Cloud, a software as a service (SaaS)-based offering that includes EraSearch, giving customers flexible deployment options.

Why is log data so important to e-commerce businesses?

The retail industry has embraced digital transformation and the pandemic has accelerated this shift to support in-store, mobile, e-commerce operations and logistics management that tie into omni-channel strategies. This enables retailers to improve customer experiences and create competitive advantages that drive revenue growth.

There are many different touchpoints in a customer’s experience with a retailer, but it often starts or ends with a retailer’s digital channel during times like these when visits to physical stores are limited. Whether that customer is online to view a promotion, shop for ideas, place an order, or check the status of an order, high availability of these services is critical as this experience is a make-or-break moment. Customers expect digital interactions to just work. Any loss of digital service, downtime to a website, or outage directly translates to lost revenue, especially during the holiday seasons or promotional events.

All of these applications and digital services generate log data – in many cases, petabytes of it. The data in logs are indispensable. They help retail IT understand why and where problems are occurring and quickly remediate the issues.

Therefore, retailers need a way to collect and analyze log data that these applications and the underlying infrastructure generate in real-time. Modern log management platforms like Era Software, built on cloud-native constructs, are helping retail IT  store, analyze and query a massive amount of logs to gain both application and business insights in seconds.

How does Era Software’ log management platforms help e-commerce IT teams provide a smoother operation?

Customers experience a slow or unavailable website when an isolated service or a broad network disruption occurs. An e-commerce ecosystem is made up of a complex network of interconnected systems including the e-commerce website, e-commerce platform, payment gateway, inventory management system, shipping software, enterprise resource planning (ERP), and POS systems for those also selling in the brick-and-mortar environment. These applications and systems rely on many services such as DNS, CDN, network connectivity, databases and the infrastructure they run on.

To get full visibility and easy access to the right data at the right time to troubleshoot customer impacting issues or performance degradations, organizations need the ability to collect, store, and search logs from all these systems as well as the services they rely on.

EraSearch, Era Software’s observability and analytics platform was built from the ground up to enable modern IT to affordably store all their logs and easily query their data in a real-time fashion with minimal interruptions to their teams.

For example, EraSearch can help extract POS data that are being sent to a backend accounting system, making it available in real-time. EraSearch provides a simple query interface on top of that data so that users could start getting immediate value out of it and can ingest data as is – no matter the format.

On the digital store-front, EraSearch provides easy and cost-effective access to real-time data, such as CDN data, to improve a retailer’s security posture as well as the customer’s digital experience.

How can log management help e-commerce businesses with business insights?

In addition to monitoring application and  IT infrastructure health, data from logs and transaction information provide new opportunities for retailers to achieve unprecedented value and competitive advantage in an evolving industry. This data can be used to uncover trends such as a slow sales period — allowing marketing to take action such as running a sale or promotion to help drive traffic to the e-commerce site. Log data can help pinpoint global supply chain issues or offer a better understanding of the inventory trends to optimize omnichannel operations.

And for the retailers that  are deploying IoT devices to understand physical store traffic and to personalize the in-store experience with data, observability and analytics platforms, such as EraSearch, are critical to maintaining reliability and availability of these devices.

What are some of the challenges e-commerce businesses face today as it relates to log management?

Many retailers now run the majority of their operations through public cloud services like Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud Platform, and others. While public clouds simplify infrastructure for retailers, it can also complicate IT infrastructure management at scale. In complex microservices-based cloud environments, e-commerce businesses are challenged with collecting and analyzing logs huge volumes of logs in real time and correlating them with other relevant data to get deeper insights into the health of their services, request/response latency, application errors, and the end-to-end user experience of customers throughout their ecosystem.

Plus, more and more retailers are running their online and brick-and-mortar businesses as one business. That means inventory management systems are connected or consolidated. Retailers offering omnichannel experiences, such as Buy Online, Pick Up In Store (BOPIS), have deployed modern order management systems (OMS) to manage the complete supply chain. As the OMS becomes the central hub for omnichannel fulfillment, monitoring and end-to-end visibility of the OMS’ many different functionalities and integrations (including payment, shipping providers, POS, and more) are critical to ensure customers get what they want, when they want it.

As traditional log management solutions were built for the pre-cloud era, access to real-time data is often too slow, inflexible and costly to store. Due to the rising costs of storing and analyzing logs, organizations often need to choose which logs to analyze. For example, CDNs are used by retail organizations to improve their website load times, and reduce bandwidth costs. When configured correctly, a CDN may improve security by providing DDoS mitigation. Logs from CDNs are critical for optimizing user experience, offering more context around problems to enable faster troubleshooting – yet many retailers choose not to monitor CDN logs because they’re too costly to store and analyze – ignoring these logs leads to visibility gaps.

At Era Software, we approach log management differently. EraSearch processes log data in any format, eliminating the need for pre-processing data or building and managing pipeline stages while continuing to make data available in real time for searching. Also, by leveraging object storage, EraSearch is far more cost effective than traditional log management systems, resulting in 90% average cost savings for our customers.

What should e-commerce businesses look for in a log management solution?

Retail IT teams need to look for modern approaches to log management to effectively troubleshoot digital service performance issues. To support the growing amount of log data in a complex eCommerce ecosystem, a log management platform architecture should enable easy scaling, decouple storage from compute, and utilize low-cost object storage that allows data to be classified as “objects” and groups them according to identifiers like metadata. This makes it easier to search object storage for pertinent information when teams want to query logs to ascertain real-time insights.

As object storage is elastic, it’s scale is limitless and more cost-efficient as organizations pay based on consumption. Furthermore, object storage offers 11 nines reliability (99.999999999%), which is critical for e-commerce operations.

About Mary Chen

Mary is Senior Director of Product Marketing for Era Software. Over the course of her career, Mary has helped retail businesses understand the value of data to uncover business critical insights. Before joining Era, Mary held a number of product marketing roles at various tech companies, including Splunk and MapR Data Technologies (now part of HPE).

Mary is Senior Director of Product Marketing for Era Software. Over the course of her career, Mary has helped retail businesses understand the value of data to uncover business critical insights. Before joining Era, Mary held a number of product marketing roles at various tech companies, including Splunk and MapR Data Technologies (now part of HPE).

About Era Software

Era Software empowers enterprises to ingest, store and analyze massive amounts of log data to get actionable insights in seconds. With the company’s observability and analytics platform, EraSearch, modern IT teams eliminate complexity and manage all their log data in real-time at up to 90% lower cost than alternatives.

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