Daniel R. Scoggin, former President and CEO of TGI Fridays, said it best: “The only way to know how customers see your business is to look at it through their eyes.” Although Quality of Experience (QoE) is a subjective measurement, it is the only measurement that counts for customers.
The reputation and revenue-generating services of an eCommerce business depend on its ability to ensure availability and provide satisfactory QoE to its customers and partners. This challenge becomes even more critical during seasonal peaks due to online holiday shopping and promotional events like Cyber Monday.
This post explores a set of best practices for those times when there’s a lot of money at stake because of the high volume of customers using your online business.
How to Keep Your eCommerce Running
Here are the top 5 tips to keep your eCommerce website running:
- Monitor, monitor, monitor. Ensuring high QoE and network availability requires attention to, and readjustment of, the network infrastructure. As a result, it is vital to monitor traffic levels on an ongoing basis and analyze them in comparison to seasonal peaks from previous years. That said, it’s imperative to define the SLA required for each application per location and monitor the actual transaction SLA, including the visibility of potential errors.
- Accelerate. It is highly recommended that businesses leverage application acceleration features that are available as part of the application delivery controller (ADC) solution, such as caching, compression and SSL acceleration. When it comes to SSL, ensure the solution supports 2k SSL keys, which are becoming the de-facto standard.
But it’s important to note that today’s web applications are more complex. Tough development cycle deadlines mean that there’s not always enough time to optimize application performance. Leveraging an advanced Web Performance Optimization (WPO) solution, however, will accelerate the response time of your eCommerce applications over any web browser and any end-user device. In particular, WPO will save you the cost of having to manually optimize the application. This allows your development team to focus on the really important features and rollout an optimized application on time, which results in more conversions and higher revenues.
- Spread the load. Because a web traffic load might unexpectedly increase, it’s critical to spread the traffic in an intelligent manner. Therefore, it’s recommended to deploy an ADC solution, which not only delivers basic load balancing capabilities, but also employs advanced policies for traffic redirection, server offloading and bandwidth management, matching “regular” business days and “seasonal peaks.” In cases where the local network capacity is maxed-out due to traffic peaks, it is essential to be able to burst resources to the cloud and redirect the traffic there to avoid disrupting the quality of experience.
- Leverage configuration templates. When there is a seasonal shopping period, an online business can easily shift to an application delivery profile that optimally fits the changing network stress and user activity. For example, a seasonal shopping period typically implies more secured transactions (as opposed to regular non-SSL web site surfing) and as a result, it would make sense to give higher priority to SSL traffic in order to meet user demand. Our advice – prepare these configuration templates in advance so you can leverage them when needed.
- Think on demand. The old days of buying a solution that will address all of your upcoming needs are over. This implies that the risk of capacity planning is potentially much higher. With the move to virtual resources and cloud-based services, scaling on-demand is affordable and doable. Therefore, on-demand network services, such as load balancing and acceleration, allow businesses to scale network infrastructure capacity with minimal impact on active services – guaranteeing optimal online business execution. Using such as approach will eliminate hardware replacements and enable the best investment protection.
As we’ve seen, there are several challenges associated with guaranteeing high QoE. These include ensuring uninterrupted availability, providing sufficient capacity to process transaction peaks while delivering faster response time and guaranteeing that services can continuously operate even when under attack.
Unfortunately, these challenges become harder to address during seasonal shopping peaks. Expected and unexpected traffic surges that cannot be addressed by existing application and network infrastructure are the biggest threat to optimal performance. Employing the best practices discussed in this post will help your organization provide the capacity required during seasonal peaks, decrease the risk of losing the shopper and strengthen your business’s overall competitive position.