It is becoming increasingly popular to base business operations (mostly e-commerce platform) in the cloud, but many business owners and administrators have expressed a few concerns over whether or not this is the best kind of platform to use. Sometimes these concerns are in terms of safety and other times they are concerned that a cloud based platform will leave them without the support they need if any questions should arise.
These Concerns Are No Longer Valid for E-Commerce Platform
Those concerns used to be valid just a few short years ago, but with the advances in technology made possible through server-side platforms such as NetSuite, those concerns need never be an issue again. Now you can safely manage your e-commerce platform (or any kind of business for that matter) on a cloud based server and feel confident that you will be able to easily do everything you could have done with a locally installed ERP, and really, even more besides.
Added to that is the fact that you have even greater security through a technology called sandboxing, so you just might be at greater risk if you were to operate from a platform installed on a local hard drive. While sandboxing and production accounts need to be kept separate, especially for security reasons, you can easily use the Celigo SmartClient to connect to NetSuite Sandbox and Production accounts once all testing has been completed and you are satisfied that all that data can be deployed safely to the production account.
Wow – That Was a Mouthful!
So now you know that you need to keep sandbox and production accounts separate and it all stems from the need for security, but what exactly is the difference between a sandbox account and a production account? For an answer to that, you might want to speak to a software or app developer because they use sandboxing regularly during the testing phase of any technology they are currently working on. Sandboxing, in its simplest terms, is a way of keeping data and code separate from the production end of a platform so if there are any risks or threats involved, the entire production platform won’t be at risk.
However, there are other reasons to sandbox data besides security issues. In reading through the information on platforms like Salesforce and NetSuite, it appears as though sandboxing allows you to work quickly and efficiently to place orders in a batch so that they are compartmentalized by customer account and then deployed to the production side of the platform for fulfillment, each its own customer database.
The Benefits of Using Sandboxes to Safely Manage E-commerce Operations
With all that having been said, it becomes evident that there are a number of benefits to sandboxing besides the obvious mitigation of risk. One of the most apparent benefits is in how sandboxing literally kills two birds with one stone! Not only does compartmentalizing data into sandboxes provide far greater safety from bleed-through of accounts, but it also offers one of the most convenient and time-efficient ways to log batch orders.
With sandboxing, you can simply enter everything onto one master screen and when you hit deploy, it goes to production but also to each of those customer accounts in NetSuite. There is no need to double and triple enter any data because it is immediately pulled to where it needs to be and marked fulfilled. Every hour spent entering data costs the company money, so not only is sandboxing time efficient it is cost efficient as well. Automating deployment and processes can save your business a significant amount of money. Just picture all that money being moved from debt to profit. Sandboxing is sounding better all the time, isn’t it?
Back to the Testing Phase
Getting back to the original understanding of a sandbox as a way to keep code and data of your e-commerce platform in its own secure compartment until it is deemed safe, you can use this technique to safely test new apps and customizations you are working on as well without there being any threat to the main platform. In NetSuite, a connector allows businesses to easily connect other programs or pieces of software to the NetSuite platform. During this phase, it is probably a good idea to do so in the NetSuite sandbox.
This is how developers use a sandbox, but of course they use it when writing and testing code. The code in a connector has already been written for you so all you need to do in that program is access the dashboard and issue commands that are available for you to use. It’s a brilliant way for you to dabble in a few customizations without the need to learn code.
Last But Never Least – Carefully Granting Levels of Access
It needs to be said at this point that the level of access you grant to anyone working on the NetSuite platform needs to be carefully thought out. One good example given by many experts in the field is in comparing the financial information the sales team can access to the financial information administration can access. The sales team would be able to access customer accounts but they will never be privy to company financials or extremely sensitive customer data unless granted access to those files.
If you are looking to safely manage your e-commerce platform in the cloud, level of access is a huge issue. Carefully weigh the role each staff member plays within your organization before summarily giving them the access normally granted within their job description. For example, the owner’s wife may be one of the key sales people but as the owner’s wife, can you realistically deny her access to financials she has every right to see? Also, be careful who you elect to grant access levels as well.
In the hands of the wrong person, this privilege can be misused to the detriment of the company and clients alike. You could almost say that access levels keep people in their own little sandboxes so that they don’t pose a threat to the company. It’s an odd thought, but a very good analogy.