The Secret to a Good Holiday Season - Today, Cyber Monday and Beyond
September 26, 2012
Jason Meserve
Share this

If you're the type of person that puts off holiday shopping until the last minute, Christmas 2012 may still seem like forever away, but September 16 marked 100 days until the biggest retail holiday of the year.

ShopperTrak predicts US retail sales will rise 3.3 percent this year and retailers are planning robust hiring to keep up with demand. This means the time is NOW to have your business-critical applications and systems ready to handle the rush.

Of course, it's not just retailers that have to ensure critical systems run smoothly, as banks, transportation and other peripheral industries must be prepared as well. Package carriers like UPS and FedEx might be in the best shape after getting a pre-holiday test run with the September 21 release of Apple's iPhone 5.

If you're in one on these holiday-impacted businesses, how do you make sure that the planning you’ve done all year is ready to handle the load?

First, leverage your existing production Application Performance Management (APM) system in the pre-production environment to monitor your load testing activities. Load testing alone can help tell you in black and white that your systems can handle X load, but adding APM to the mix will help you see the gray areas.

For instance, say transactions are going through, but taking 10 seconds where they should be taking one second. This slow down might be caused by a slow link to a backend database or mainframe system. (Yep, it's 2012 and mainframes still play a major role in Christmas shopping.) Using your APM system in pre-production testing also helps ensure your monitoring setup is also ready to handle the load when the holiday rush truly begins.

Still have doubts your IT systems can handle the rush? Use a capacity management tool to run a few what/if scenarios against your current production environment. Some systems can capitalize on performance data from APM systems to better model what future performance might look like. Such a capacity management/planning exercise could point to simple changes to the current environment that would allow your systems to better handle the load with minimal impact to the bottom line.

Monitoring Outside the Firewall

Obviously, now and when the shoppers kick things into high gear on Black Friday and Cyber Monday, an APM system must be used internally to monitor key business services and end-user experience. As system traffic increases, being able to monitor all end-user transactions is critical to spotting performance issues before they impact customers.

But today's revenue-generating systems also need to be monitored externally as well to ensure a quality end-user experience. There are two reasons to add an external monitoring capability:

1. Today’s Web applications are pulling data from a mosaic of services and rely on delivery systems beyond IT's control. By using a monitoring system outside the firewall, you can get the same perspective of performance as your customers. This view will show if a third-party system or regional Internet slowdown is causing issues, allowing you to take appropriate action.

2. Mobile is going to play an increased role this Christmas season. IMRG Capgemini Quarterly Benchmarking Index forecasts that 30% of website visits will be via a mobile device. An external monitoring system that uses real-browser technology to test systems using the rendering engines of traditional desktop and mobile browsers can help ensure you're delivering a great user experience to all customers hitting your site to shop, track a shipment or check a bank balance.

Beyond the 2012 holiday season, the lessons learned and data collected can help influence system readiness for the 2013 holidays.

All that APM data you've been collecting for the next few months doesn't have to go to waste. Use it to build real-world testing scenarios for your next generation of applications and services. Such real-world data will allow you to better model your testing and quality assurance systems as well as capacity planning exercises, enabling your organization to support continued business growth now and in the future.

ABOUT Jason Meserve

Jason Meserve has been working in high-tech for over 15 years, and is currently a Product Marketing Manager at CA Technologies where he focuses on Service Assurance solutions such as Application Performance Management. He built his tech resume in the 10 years he spent as a journalist at Network World, where he created everything from articles, features, blogs, videos and podcasts. Meserve has also held marketing and editorial positions at Constant Contact and Application Development Trends.

Related Links:

www.ca.com/apm

Share this

The Latest

July 09, 2020

Enterprises that halted their cloud migration journey during the current global pandemic are two and a half times more likely than those that continued their move to the cloud to have experienced IT outages that negatively impacted their SLAs, according to Virtana's latest survey report The Current State of Hybrid Cloud and IT ...

July 08, 2020

Every business has the responsibility to do their part against climate change by reducing their carbon footprint while increasing sustainability and efficiency. Harnessing optimization of IT infrastructure is one method companies can use to reduce carbon footprint, improve sustainability and increase business efficiency, while also keeping costs down ...

July 07, 2020

While the adoption of continuous integration (CI) is on the rise, software engineering teams are unable to take a zero-tolerance approach to software failures, costing enterprise organizations billions annually, according to a quantitative study conducted by Undo and a Cambridge Judge Business School MBA project ...

June 25, 2020

I've had the opportunity to work with a number of organizations embarking on their AIOps journey. I always advise them to start by evaluating their needs and the possibilities AIOps can bring to them through five different levels of AIOps maturity. This is a strategic approach that allows enterprises to achieve complete automation for long-term success ...

June 24, 2020

Sumo Logic recently commissioned an independent market research study to understand the industry momentum behind continuous intelligence — and the necessity for digital organizations to embrace a cloud-native, real-time continuous intelligence platform to support the speed and agility of business for faster decision-making, optimizing security, driving new innovation and delivering world-class customer experiences. Some of the key findings include ...

June 23, 2020

When it comes to viruses, it's typically those of the computer/digital variety that IT is concerned about. But with the ongoing pandemic, IT operations teams are on the hook to maintain business functions in the midst of rapid and massive change. One of the biggest challenges for businesses is the shift to remote work at scale. Ensuring that they can continue to provide products and services — and satisfy their customers — against this backdrop is challenging for many ...

June 22, 2020

Teams tasked with developing and delivering software are under pressure to balance the business imperative for speed with high customer expectations for quality. In the course of trying to achieve this balance, engineering organizations rely on a variety of tools, techniques and processes. The 2020 State of Software Quality report provides a snapshot of the key challenges organizations encounter when it comes to delivering quality software at speed, as well as how they are approaching these hurdles. This blog introduces its key findings ...

June 18, 2020

For IT teams, run-the-business, commodity areas such as employee help desks, device support and communication platforms are regularly placed in the crosshairs for cost takeout, but these areas are also highly visible to employees. Organizations can improve employee satisfaction and business performance by building unified functions that are measured by employee experience rather than price. This approach will ultimately fund transformation, as well as increase productivity and innovation ...

June 17, 2020

In the agile DevOps framework, there is a vital piece missing; something that previous approaches to application development did well, but has since fallen by the wayside. That is, the post-delivery portion of the toolchain. Without continuous cloud optimization, the CI/CD toolchain still produces massive inefficiencies and overspend ...

June 16, 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic has exponentially accelerated digital transformation projects. To better understand where IT professionals are turning for help, we analyzed the online behaviors of IT decision-makers. Our research found an increase in demand for resources related to APM, microservices and dependence on cloud services ...