If you’re in business online, one of your primary considerations should be – and probably is – making sure that your website will be prepared for peak load. Exactly what peak load means, in terms of real numbers, will always be a matter for debate; but you know that you do not want your site to go down at times when your business is achieving its highest levels of success.
Because of this concern, you look at the figures – how much space is there in certain hosting packages, how much memory is there, etc.. What you’re probably thinking about, though, is not the amount of data flowing through your hosting account, but it is the sales that could potentially mean. You don’t want to lose any sales. That is especially crucial during the holidays, because shopping for presents creates a massive influx of capital for all types of businesses, making up ground for any slow months.
Simple techniques can be used to ensure that your holidays run smoothly, not just for you and your loved ones and your mother-in-law, but for your business as well.
Black Friday & the insanity of the shopping season
Perhaps the word “insanity” is a little extreme, but certainly the traffic spike during the holidays for many websites can be pleasantly uplifting while also bordering on the absurd. InformationWeek reported last year that one payment processing company experienced more than one-third of its total yearly transaction dollars during the holidays. That’s a staggering statistic when you consider that it’s really only about a month in length. Is your company ready for four times its average traffic?
If the answer is “maybe,” you aren’t alone. The fact is, no one really knows what to expect during the year’s biggest shopping season. Here is how to protect yourself:
1. The human element – Forget the computers for a moment. Needless to say, companies cannot run themselves. Create an action plan for your company so you know what happens when any potential overflows occur. The last thing you want is not to be able to fulfill transactions and make new customers happy because you have too many orders coming in.
Make sure that proper communication channels are established between any IT people you have on staff, your web hosting company, and the company behind your e-commerce software, as applicable. You need to be able to act quickly and, above all, to know what’s going on in real time.
Figure out whose responsibility it is to monitor which systems. Also, consider a blanket approval of certain actions, such as allowing your e-commerce company to interact with the web hosting company on your behalf. All departments and parties also need to be aware of the timing and nature of any promotional efforts.
2. Be careful, be very careful… But don’t be too careful – Scammers do big business during the holidays as well, so security is of special concern. Look into adding malware protections, and consider purchasing an Extended Validation SSL certificate.
These two tools both protect you from illicit activity and provide additional degrees of assurance to potential customers. The Extended Validation SSL, for instance, turns the address bar green. That may sound ridiculous from an IT perspective, but it’s an impressive indicator to customers that they are on a legitimate site (not one created by a phishing imposter) and it’s okay to move forward with their purchase.
Now, be aware that you also don’t want to go too far. InformationWeek references a KEMP Technologies executive, Jon Braunhut, who emphasizes that distributed denial of service (DDoS) protections should be reconsidered. DDoS safeguards can prove too extreme on Black Friday because they are based on preventing unexpected, sudden increases in traffic – which is exactly what you want to happen during the holiday shopping blitz.
3. Don’t go it alone – Maybe you would prefer to go it alone and the weather the incoming traffic yourself. However, it’s worth consideration that managed services from a hosting provider or other third party might be useful for the holidays. E-commerce Times make that recommendation especially for SMBs, noting that good hosting companies have thorough understandings of how to handle the bursts of traffic that are common toward the end of the year.
What hosting packages make the most sense
In the past, the amounts of resources (storage, memory, bandwidth, etc.) available within hosting packages were not exactly set in stone, but they weren’t particularly easy to adjust either. Cloud hosting has changed all of that. Basically, rather than having to think about how much room you have on a particular server, the cloud approach allows you access to a number of different servers. It’s not exactly limitless, but for the majority of situations, you won’t hit a ceiling.
Managed hosting makes the situation even easier. You essentially have an IT team on hand 24/7, alerted of any issues and resolving them as quickly as possible.
That said, businesses have to operate on budgets and be conscientious with every dollar they spend. Whatever Black Friday traffic solutions you choose, we at Atlantic.Net hope that your season is bright and that our cloud hosting solutions are your first choice for reliable peak load server reliability.