Web traffic spikes caused by major calendar events occur all year round. During the summer, calendars are filled with events, from festivals such as Glastonbury or Bestival, to popular sporting tournaments such as Wimbledon. These summer days now seem a faint memory as we rapidly approach the clutches of winter – and with winter comes Christmas shopping. In the run up to Christmas, Black Friday and Cyber Monday will lure vast numbers of shoppers to seek out the best bargains online. Every retailer should understand the technology challenges of dealing with varying levels of web traffic that this will cause and, in particular, the large spikes when a surge of sales is due to occur. 

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Technology failures caused by web traffic spikes can be embarrassing as well as expensive, especially on such anticipated retail days, yet they still occur with predictable regularity. Many websites simply aren’t prepared to cope with upsurges in user activity, which could leave countless shoppers angry and disappointed this Black Friday weekend.

Every year, the popularity of Black Friday appears to grow which meaning an increasing pressure is put on the IT infrastructure that underpins participating retailers’ websites. These positive deviations in web traffic illustrate how demand has grown as people increasingly access the latest deals from their mobile devices, choosing to avoid the mad rush of the stores themselves. It is not surprising that Christmas shoppers seek out deals from the comfort of their homes, rather than risking being trampled in a stress-fuelled store frenzy. It is therefore essential that all websites are not only mobile-optimised, but also designed with an infrastructure able to cope with these seasonal peaks and troughs. 

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The adoption of cloud technology via Managed Service Providers (MSPs) is proving increasingly popular for organisations that need to scale their requirements and manage traffic spikes with flexibility.  The approach gives them the ability to add capacity on a temporary basis at times when they predict an increase in website visits.  This capacity can then be scaled back again during quieter periods, and users also have added scope to test for different traffic scenarios without taking their site offline; so they use what they pay for, making it much more cost effective.  

Tips for creating a resilient website, for Black Friday & beyond:

  • Insist on web infrastructure that is both scalable and flexible
  • Be prepared in advance for jumps in traffic, rather than having to cope with a crisis
  • Ensure the infrastructure is fully tested to ensure that bursts in website activity do not lead to sudden and costly downtime

Understanding your infrastructure is key to ensuring that your website is up and running at all times, coping with any increases in demand and not risking your business’ online reputation.

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Campbell Williams, group strategy and marketing director, Six Degrees Group Campbell is a 15 year industry veteran who has held various sales, marketing and business development management roles in a variety of manufacturing, carrier and reseller companies. He started his career in Mitel where he was part of a team that drove the company’s transition from a direct sales and traditional PBX business to a channel focused and IP telephony software provider, including being the content owner and host of Mitel’s IP product launch in 2000. Director-level positions at AT Communications and Charterhouse Voice & Data followed before he joined Six Degrees Group in 2011. Campbell is a well-known figure in the industry and he has travelled the world as a presenter and subject-matter expert in a variety of technology fields, including twice addressing global United Nations conferences. Campbell is a founding member of the senior management team at Six Degrees Group, a managed services provider focused on cloud hosting, wide area networks and converged software solutions. Campbell held the post of Group Sales & Marketing Director when the company was founded and now has the role of Group Strategy & Marketing Director. He is responsible for channel strategy, product strategy, go-to-market messaging, proposition and solution development, public relations and branding matters. In his spare time, he likes most sports, “enjoys” watching Scotland, tries to play golf and looks to improve his wine cellar.