Online retailers and peak loads: how to scale your infrastructure during the holiday season

Black Friday attracts many consumers every year in search of the best deals. And the congestion does not happen just in shopping centers: more than a third of Black Friday purchases are now made online and according to the National Retail Federation, retailers can generate up to 30% their annual revenues in November and December.

Having a website ready to handle this increased traffic is crucial. It is therefore necessary to prepare ahead of time and ensure that its infrastructure is properly scaled to absorb this activity. Here’s an overview of the options available to online retailers to ensure a seamless customer experience.

3 seconds. This is the time it takes for a user to decide to leave a page that loads too slowly. Retailers need to prepare their websites to make sure they can absorb peak loads - these temporary increases in the number of simultaneous connections will slow down navigation. Before acting, it’s crucial for retailers to ask themselves the following questions: have performance tests been carried out? How fast can the infrastructure be scaled? Is there a ready-to-use scenario for critical situations? Once these questions have been answered, it’s possible to quickly provision a custom infrastructure with additional resources.

Public Cloud: Maximum Flexibility The Public Cloud is the option that adapts most easily to a specific increase in resource requirements. Unbeatable in terms of elasticity and cost, the Public Cloud can deploy additional instances in a few minutes, allowing online retailers to support any seasonal variation in traffic. Performing similarly to the best dedicated servers, the Public Cloud offers a pay-per-use model (hourly or monthly), making peak load management easy to measure and predict. OVH Public Cloud pushes flexibility and transparency even further, with the ability to automate the deployment of instances while evolving freely in a tailor-made hybrid cloud universe. Backed by OpenStack free software technology, it guarantees the portability of cloud environments and the interoperability between OVH and other cloud providers. Flexible and automatable, the Public Cloud allows retailers to orchestrate the deployment of their infrastructure according to their needs. A scenario optimized by the complementary use of a load balancer, which will allow retailers to distribute traffic between different equipment, significantly improves the capacity of the equipment. Available with all OVH cloud products, the load balancer is the secret weapon of infrastructure that aims for high availability and extreme resilience to traffic fluctuations. Discover OVH’s Public Cloud

Private Cloud: A Truly Good Idea? The Private Cloud is an option to quickly resize infrastructure and absorb peak loads. Private Cloud is a dedicated infrastructure and therefore highly available. OVH has an additional host deployment feature which can be up and running in less than five minutes, all with monthly or hourly pricing to control costs. The VMware cloning feature leverages a VM pool in a few clicks. The HotAdd feature, which resizes a VM in just a few clicks to increase processing capacity, also provides greater responsiveness to load peaks. Discover OVH’s Private Cloud

The VPS: Small but Powerful Highly prized among smaller online retailers, Virtual Private Servers (VPS) are another possible option to help manage Black Friday activity, designed to support the growth of web activities. OVH VPS are designed to be scalable. Need more RAM or more powerful processors to absorb a rise in seasonal traffic? Upgrade the VPS in a few clicks, seamlessly, and without reinstallation. Discover OVH’s VPS

The CDN (Content Delivery Network) is also a clever way to optimize the performance of a website without necessarily resizing the infrastructure. Consisting of a set of locations worldwide (34 points of presence for OVH), the CDN proposes to independently distribute the type of content that usually slows down websites, such as images or videos, caching files that do not require a permanent update. It is also an indispensable complement for online retailers who want to reach users all over the world and optimize their SEO.

Speaking of SEO, here are some strategies online retailers can use to correctly position their sites on search engines:

  • Make an inventory of the indexing pages of the site in the Google search engine Retailers can obtain a summary of all the pages of their sites present in the index of the search engine, and will be able to verify that the pages on which they wish to apply their SEO efforts can be found on Google.
  • Each page on the web has a history (creation date, number of links, position acquired since its creation). It is better to capitalize and focus SEO work on a group of pages with a strong history.
  • It’s in a retailer’s interest to help search engines in the identification of pages to highlight, improving the internal mesh of its website with links that make sense for both the user and the engines.
  • Google AdWords is a valuable tool to monitor keyword search trends, anticipate trends by analyzing seasonality, and discover new traffic opportunities.
  • Retailers should make sure that the composition of their pages is adapted for mobile and tablet browsing through Google's compatibility test.

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