Seasonal Network Management: Stay Resilient When Traffic Spikes
Cyber Monday sales set a record in 2016, with sales of $3.45 billion making it the biggest single shopping day in e-commerce history.1 It’s a fish-in-a-barrel kind of day: Customers are determined to open their wallets, and businesses need to be ready to capture the sales.
Sites that haven’t developed a network management plan, however, may have to kiss those easy dollars goodbye. Fortunately, there are some steps you can take to get ready for these e-commerce traffic spikes, from quick fixes to long-term planning solutions.
Creating Speedier Page Loads
Gorgeous product photos can be more persuasive than the best copy, but they’re also demanding when it comes to load times. For your mobile customers, fancy product photos are often costly in terms of their data allotment.
To improve image loading on your page you can compress image size by removing elements that people don’t notice. For example, you can render the image with fewer color variants so that it meets minimum acceptable quality. You can also try progressive loading, which renders a lower-quality image first so that the page can load quickly and then, in the background, gradually loads more data to improve photo quality.
Using HTTP caching can also improve page load speeds. With pages stored on their local browsers, customers no longer have to retrieve content from the server every time they want to revisit a page. Cache headers will tell the server when to refresh those stored copies for the customer. That way, customers aren’t looking at out-of-date content when they’re served up pages from the cache.
Managing Dynamic Environments
Unless you already have servers on every continent, you probably use a content delivery network to locally cache your pages. Customers access everything through local points of presence rather than through faraway data center every time. To deliver these services and avoid bottlenecks and performance problems it is crucial to orchestrate network traffic.
Most large retailers are operating in a dynamic environment. In addition to managing physical servers in accordance with traffic demands, these businesses are also responsively spinning up cloud resources. If you haven’t already started thinking about software-defined networking, now is the time. Instead of coming up with the routing algorithms yourself, consider how cognitive computing can improve network management.
Let’s be honest: The week before Cyber Monday is not the time to re-architect your network. However, containers can make a great scaling solution for future holiday shopping rushes. Containers host microservers and can deploy new images automatically so you can scale horizontally. They’re light and easy to spin up, and they work well with load balancers to keep your servers from becoming overburdened.
The Future of Network Management
The most important step to implementing infrastructure changes is to test your new environment before deployment. Because you only pay for what you use, cloud services offer a great way to run these tests. Finally, make sure you can see a broad snapshot of your network performance and that you receive alerts if something becomes unavailable. Remediation speed can mean the difference between making money and handing it to your functioning competitors.
Great network performance offers a competitive edge when it comes to e-commerce. While your competitors are queuing traffic and struggling to get back online, you’ll be smiling all the way to the bank.