Working in the Cloud During the 2013 Holiday Season

Posted on December 5, 2013 by

As a business offering online products and services, you must stand ready to ensure the optimal performance of your eCommerce site, especially during potentially volatile peaks, notably during the holiday season. You’ll need to have effective scaling measures in place in order to your serve customers quickly, responsibly and efficiently around the clock. The holidays often signal long-awaited eCommerce product launches and serve as an opportunity for short-fuse promotions, timed to take advantage of the spikes accompanying holiday shopping. Taking a cloud-based strategy can help you focus on business tasks and let the cloud experts handle your IT concerns.

Planning for Holiday Sales

According to KISSmetrics,  40 percent of customers will abandon an eCommerce website if it takes more than three seconds to load: a short but decisive time for your site to deliver or be rejected and lose a sale. The amount of retail business being conducted online is steadily growing each year, so eCommerce retailers need to be prepared with well-designed, immediate solutions to cover expected and unexpected traffic spikes.

Cloud-based eCommerce

It’s key that you coordinate your cloud-based holiday season sales plans with your hosting provider. Coordination between you and your hosting provider will be the basis for successful planning and increased online sales. Are you running social media campaigns that will cause holiday traffic to your site to soar? Are you planning eagerly awaited product launches? Your cloud infrastructure needs to be analyzed to ensure it can handle the traffic that will follow.

Online merchants often see their tech infrastructure as a “set it and forget it”’ part of their online business. This is true of merchants who use an outsourced provider, whether it be for a WordPress hosting service or a cutting-edge eCommerce business. Taking the time to confer with your cloud service can be a good first step in getting your holiday strategy underway.

High Availability for the Holidays

Those discussions of holiday sales preparations with your cloud hosting provider should center around high availability (HA). Such preparations are designed to keep online marketplaces up and running despite system malfunctions and failures. HA is a proven methodology based on eliminating potential points of failure.

Redundant infrastructure is at the core of HA. Your hosted server provider must offer multiple network connections and power supplies, and dual mirrored hard drives lest one of them fails. Of course, your data server itself poses a critical failure risk. If it crashes, so do your online holiday sales and a multiserver configuration will be needed for optimal redundancy.

Within an HA environment, your hosting provider will typically deploy double firewalls with dual Internet connections. Peak load holiday traffic can be seamlessly channeled to multiple web servers and replicated databases via redundant load balancers. Properly configured, HA architecture eliminates all potential failure points that could jeopardize an online store.

Coupled with secure, reliable data backup, an HA-based multiserver strategy will lessen your cloud-based hosting risks, keep your eCommerce flowing, and give your holiday customers an online shopping experience that will bring them back to your site throughout the year.


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