How to effectively handle 100 times more clients than usual
Meaning, why is it worth having a proven technology partner
During promotional campaigns such as Black Friday, Cyber Monday, etc., online shop servers must handle up to 100 times more transactions than on every day. Customers’ raid can end up like a DDoS attack – with an overloaded server and an inefficient internet connection. Lack of availability of the website means a loss of earnings for the company. To avoid this, you need to look after your IT infrastructure in advance. In the case of temporary, short-term need to expand IT resources, it is most effective to use server lease, i.e. the help offered by a technology partner.
The marketing department in consultation with the sales is usually responsible for the preparation of promotional campaigns. It is often overlooked that the IT department is involved in this process. And it should be included at the early stage of planning a large promotional campaign. The more time these different worlds will have for a calm dialogue, the better the technique will be able to prepare the infrastructure to handle highly multiplied needs than as on everyday basis.
Good internal communication is therefore key so that this abundance is not more of a curse than a blessing. Marketing should assess the potential increase in the number of clients served within 24 hours and tools such as Google Analytics can be helpful. The IT department, on the other hand, has to translate this into the number of queries directed to the website, volume of traffic, processor and database load – to find infrastructure bottlenecks.
If the IT department determines that your equipment will not be able to manage the increased load, they will have to decide how to achieve the so-called resource scalability:
- By relocating resources from other, less critical systems/processes;
- By investing in the purchase of an additional server (or servers) and/or broadening the bandwidth of the Internet connection;
- By using the help of a technological partner, i.e. the IT infrastructure as a Service (IaaS).
Option 1. Relocation of resources
The use of existing resources does not require investment and – at least in theory – does not entail additional costs.
Such scenario – besides the fact that it is not always technologically possible at all – does not allow to handle significant differences in traffic.
Suspending some of the company’s operational processes is cumbersome and troublesome; it may even pose a threat to the company’s operations.
Option 2. Server purchase
The company has full control over the devices.
Equipment purchased for a specific event stays in the company, so after the action is completed, it can be used for other tasks.
The cost of purchasing equipment is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of costs associated with its maintenance and servicing.
Before the expanded infrastructure is ready for operation, it takes time and effort to install new servers, which will put a lot of strain on the IT team. Moreover, additional equipment needs space in the server room. Will the air-conditioning withstand additional heat sources, and the energy network the increased power consumption? Will the ISP agree to temporarily expand the bandwidth?
Lack of flexibility and apparent scalability. If it turns out that the needs are underestimated and there are too few servers or they are too weak, then it will not be possible to add another machine ad hoc, within an hour.
When the campaign is over, the company is left with the equipment and – most often – it will not have the opportunity/need to use it until the next such large promotional campaign. The purchased servers are idle, they do not earn their keep, and – what’s more – they grow old.
Option 3. Outsourcing (IaaS)
A technology partner needs a few, a dozen, or even several dozen servers to be put at the disposal of its company. All installation work is on its side. In addition, the partner provides servers with security and appropriate environmental conditions in a professional data center, as well as uninterruptible power supply and stable internet connection with guaranteed high bandwidth.
At first, the price of the outsourced IT infrastructure may seem not very competitive. However, it should be noted that the service fee includes:
- utilities (power supply, Internet)
- server room (space, cooling, fire protection)
- safety (physical protection and anti-DDoS)
- technical support and remote hands 24/7
- equipment service (quick replacement of damaged components or the entire server)
- self-service (the possibility of managing the server remotely through the client panel)
- flexibility and scalability (the potential for rapid expansion of resources and the ability to resign from unnecessary resources)
namely the guarantee of availability and efficiency.
Technology partner urgently wanted
To make sure that the technology partner meets the expectations of our company during the promotional campaign, it is worth trying it out, testing it first. It takes time, so you have to look for it in advance.
If we have chosen a provider who knows its profession, let’s tell it about our needs and let’s listen to its proposals. It’s worth being open to consultancy to get the most out of working with a partner. It can even prove to be crucial to develop an optimal solution – and to make a go of it. Therefore, communication and trust are the foundation of cooperation.
What to look for when choosing a technology partner:
- flexibility and scalability, i.e. readiness of sales and technical personnel to quickly introduce changes to the existing infrastructure, and thus also having extensive hardware resources
- prohibitive SLA connected with the availability of guaranteed power supply and response time to possible equipment failures (large hardware base and spare parts warehouse on site)
- not only a guarantee of the right bandwidth of the Internet connection, but also a back-up connection ready to work in case of problems with the basic connection.
How do others do it, i.e. an example of a game distribution site
Within 14 days, nearly 700,000 users of GOG.com downloaded the new version of The Witcher. This means that within 1 second the servers released 3 data packages of about 30 GB each.
It’s about the premiere of The Witcher III released in 2015. The producer of the game – CD Projekt – expecting huge interest of fans from around the world, turned to Atman – a tried-and-tested partner. After reviewing the client’s needs, Atman prepared, launched and shared 85 dedicated servers in the Atman WAW-1 Data Center within 24 hours. The GOG.com service used reinforced infrastructure for 3 months until the first wave of interest subsided.
CD Projekt has been using Atman services for almost 6 years. It started with the colocation of servers and Internet access, then additional links, data transmission services and server lease were added. Now, the client no longer maintains its own servers in the data center – it only uses the Infrastructure as a Service. Since 2013, every year, it periodically increases its IT resources in Atman during the launch of new products.
Even if – on a daily basis – the company chooses to maintain IT infrastructure in-house (e.g. prefers CAPEX over OPEX), if it is necessary to temporarily increase resources due to the promotional campaign or launch of a demanded product, it is much easier, safer, more efficient and – looking at the TCO – in fact cheaper to use IT outsourcing, e.g. dedicated servers.
Find out more about dedicated server lease at Atman