For retailers and businesses alike, the most important six weeks of the year have arrived. This is their chance to cash in on the holiday shopping season and close their books on 2011 in the black. It makes no difference whether a retailer is a brick and mortar or online retailer -- their livelihoods depend on the reliability of mission-critical applications to run those businesses.
Whether they realize it or not, their business relies on applications to do everything from running the cash registers, tracking inventory and managing shipments of goods from the warehouses to their stores. These applications are also instrumental in managing personnel, adjusting in-store inventories to meet regional and seasonal needs, launching promotions and sales, and enacting price changes.
Business applications manage the flow of a tremendous amount of time-critical information between stores, warehouses and management offices. If these applications fail to perform, or even so much as slow down, the business could suffer substantial losses in revenue.
To help retailers and businesses maximize the return on investments in these applications, the following are best practices retailers should implement when using an application performance monitoring solution in order to maintain these business-critical applications and ensure a good holiday season:
Use an Application Performance Management (APM) solution to better identify and understand the performance of your applications both pre-production and in production. APM allows you to determine an application’s capacity to handle the load of peak traffic and to recognize any negative impacts that may occur when multiple business transactions are executed concurrently. While load testing may return a variety of results, using an APM solution will evaluate whether your applications have hidden interdependency conflicts in real-time. Get your policies for handling this worked out in pre-production and then apply them in production. This approach of working across pre-production and production with common language and tooling is a step towards a DevOps culture and can provide great benefit in terms of collaboration and cost savings.
Continuously measure application performance and its impact on the end-user. APM solutions can identify where application issues are impeding follow-through on transactions. Identifying that certain user action isn’t executing before the holiday rush significantly reduces the chances that multiple users will abandon their shopping baskets and take their business elsewhere when that same application doesn’t execute on high-volume days.
Use APM with Complex Event Processing to provide early warning about potential problems across the application stack. APM ensures that you are catching minor changes that may cascade into larger issues later. Automate the APM process to ensure you’re recognizing these issues before they get ahead of you. Also, automation will ensure that event storms with large volumes of event data are downsized into useable, prioritized information, which includes warnings and automated corrective actions.
Many revenue-draining application performance issues could be prevented with an Application Performance Management solution. These applications are designed to handle thousands of transactions, but there will be times when something goes awry and retailers and businesses need the visibility into the applications to remediate those issues quickly, if not prior to them occurring. APM is designed to give that visibility and proactively determine when transactions are bottlenecking and about to negatively affect business-critical applications.
Having the ability to recognize and remediate any issues could be the difference between a good and bad holiday season.
Charley Rich is VP Product Management and Marketing at Nastel Technologies.