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Bursting out at Christmas

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The time of the year is rapidly approaching where we all shop online, order those last minute goods and give the Internet and web hosting sites the Annual stress-test.

You could be a website owner or perhaps a hosting provider or a software as a service provider offering back office integration. Regardless the question is whether your existing systems can handle the Christmas peaks?

Here are some statistical stats* on mobile applications you may find interesting:

  • 24% of application users go to retail apps
  • 52% of retail application users are female
  • App users are younger – 28% of retail application users are aged 16-24
  • Retail App usage peaks at lunchtime
  • Social network applications reach 67% of users
  • Total Application usage has its peak on a Friday
  • Retail Application usage peaks on a Tuesday

If your selling goods or services into different channels how would you plan peak capacity based on marketing into the retail application range of 16-24 year olds?

Another scenario could be a games developer ensuring that the critical Christmas release is going to scale on demand?

Moving further afield perhaps your customer needs to move web-facing systems closer to worldwide markets such as Hong Kong to capitalise on the Asian growth markets or simply replicate in the US with a CDN (content delivery network) capacity?

Lets look at the rhythm of purchasing behaviours for different market sectors:

  • Technology Retail: Weekday peak flows are on a Tuesday and Wednesday. Average access times are Monday – Friday: 1 – 2pm. Weekends are Saturday and Sunday: 3 – 4pm.
  • Fashion Retail: Peak flows are on a Monday or Thursday.
  • Supermarkets: Monday and Tuesday Evenings.

The message from the statistics above is to plan plan plan and plan, use available sources to predict capacity and load requirements. Once you have an idea then plan ahead to predict peak loads and decide based on your unique requirements whether there is a case for peak load bursting.

As we are all too aware, hardware investments such as storage area networks and blade servers can be costly especially if the production cycle is to satisfy a peak demand over a quarter.

The question I tend to get asked a lot is whether the cloud offers a true return on investment and operational expenditure benefits? My answer is always “it depends on the workloads you are executing and the longevity of those workloads.”

There are times when physical hardware deployed within the datacentre and amortised over a set period of time either on a medium term project basis or contracted period is economically viable compare to a cloud workload.

On the flip side a seasonal burst or peak is a matter of costs both in terms of engineering complexity and transactional values vs. physical hardware costs.

Arrow ECS have recently partnered with SoftLayer, an IBM company, to enable our partners to take advantage of the power and flexibility of this huge cloud platform.

Do I view SoftLayer as a server retirement home? No, but I do see SoftLayer as a strategic partner for allowing our partners to access unprecedented resources and services on-demand. These demands can be either peak or core the choice comes down to cost and load requirements.

At Arrow we view the SoftLayer journey as one of coaching and awareness. Awareness in terms of technicality, a journey defined as gently introducing our partners to the new world of cloud and its potential to reshape their offerings.

I use the word partner often in this blog because I believe no cloud provider will succeed long-term outside of the development and testing communities without the engagement of an IT partner whether that is in the form of a value added reseller or a service provider.

As we move into Quarter 4 online demand from both mobile and smartphones is about to increase exponentially maybe this is year when online purchasing breaks all records?

The question is are you as the partner advising and providing solutions to your myriad of end-customers? If so have you taken into account the demands on your customers services coming into the Christmas break?

Here at Arrow we are committed to providing solutions that resonate with our partner’s end-users, technical assistance and above all best-in-class solutions across our portfolio.

Our commitment to providing ease of access to SoftLayer services includes:

  • Monthly billing services with 30 days credit and invoicing (negating the impact of credit flow which is not aligned to billing cycles)
  • Technical workshops helping you to design solutions
  • Migration assistance and workload assessment
  • Marketing and sales support
  • Sales workshops that are geared towards being consultative with end-users, providing solutions not hype

Whilst the debate may centre on cloud as a technology enabler alongside hybrid and API access, we wish to ensure that our partners are ready to enable discussion from a business and scalability perspective. This scalability could cover everything from temporary storage for images through to expanding loads on an ordering system or even disaster recovery in the event of a Christmas flood?

Do you want to discuss further? Get in touch with us or contact me on twitter @ianajeffs and I will endeavour to answer any questions you may have.

*Statistics courtesy of GFK Research