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November 01, 2012

Top Performance Elements to Ensure Success during Peak Traffic Periods

Now that it’s officially the first day of November, some managers are wondering if their business is holiday-ready – and with good reason. As we’ve officially begun the month of the two largest shopping days – black Friday and Cyber Monday (News - Alert) – it seems that ensuring a successful 2012 holiday shopping season should be high on one’s priority list. In light of this, I was able to speak with Stephen Pierzchala, a technology strategist from the Compuware (News - Alert) APM Center of Excellence, who detailed the top performance elements businesses need to consider during these periods of high traffic.

    1.) Monitor the right things from the right place: This is “where holiday readiness starts,” Pierzchala says. “Ensuring that your measurement plan captures the right information to turn data into information during peak traffic periods can prevent blind spots from turning into black holes for the business.” Instead of designing a measurement strategy that’s based on generalized assumptions, review your measurement plans with an integrated business and operations team. This will help build on real data, which will therefore help you build a relevant and effective end-to-end measurement methodology, Pierzchala explains.

    2.) Monitor applications from multiple perspectives: “By monitoring applications from multiple perspectives, the performance of Web and mobile applications can be accurately measured, producing key information that can be used to make business and technical decisions,” Pierzchala explains. “With rapidly evolving browsers, companies need to ensure that their site behaves as expected with every release, because any issues with a new version that affect key application functions, such as Search or Add-to-Cart, could place a business at risk from potentially invisible performance issues.”

    3.) Load test the site from end-to-end: Pierzchala cannot stress enough the importance of load testing the site from end-to-end once the methodology is set and the monitoring and measurement is in place. This will ensure that the application can meet the demands of peak load, he reasons. “We have worked with many customers who believed that their site was ready for peak traffic because they had tested it the same way they always had, only to discover that their traditional approach missed critical issues that took their site offline in ways that had not been considered.”

    4.) Third party content must be fully integrated into the measurement/testing process: Because Web apps have become so reliant on these outside services, it’s vital to make sure that they are fully integrated into the process so to avoid such things as content delivery network (CDN) outages, cloud provider disruptions or domain name system (DNS) outages. Companies like Compuware, however, capture thousands of third-party object failures – many of which could have otherwise created critical performance issues for Web applications.

    5.) Be prepared: “If, despite all of your preparation, the application begins to experience performance issues under load, it is vital to have a plan to respond to this,” Pierzchala insists, listing some useful techniques such as spinning up more servers, distributing load across multiple CDNs, removing third party content or even switching to a completely static version of the application to help better manage these peak traffic periods.

“An organization that neglects one or more of the rules above will be left in a situation that includes substantial risk: key site functions that fail under load; third parties that slow or stop business; blind spots that prevent quick resolution of issues; and no backup plan flexible enough to respond to one or more issues,” Pierzchala, an expert in the field, explains. “But companies that have a response plan in place that can immediately adapt to information on critical customer transactions collected from a variety of perspectives will be successful during the 2012 holiday shopping season.”

Edited by Rachel Ramsey

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