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Why you need to prepare your site for traffic spikes

11/26/2012 | Internet hosting |

Last month saw the US face its traditional Black Friday shopping day on November 23rd, when millions of people took to stores and hit the web in search of bargains. But this phenomenon is no longer limited to the States, as the day and its online-focused follow-up Cyber Monday become increasingly important occasions for retailers around the world.

For ecommerce firms, this might mean following the lead of major players such as Amazon and offering special promotions to draw in customers. But if you're doing this, it's vital your website is prepared for the spike in traffic such events bring.

An example of how not to do this was seen in Australia, where advertisers and stores planned a 24-hour sales drive through a special portal called Click Frenzy. They forecast one million hits over the period, but what they actually received were two million simultaneous hits as it kicked off, ZDNet reports.

This was too much for the site's servers, which failed to cope with the demand and were down for around three hours while engineers tried to find a more robust solution. However, this did not have to be the case, as there are things that can be done with your site design and servers to handle such traffic spikes.

One important step may be to ensure as much of your site as possible is cacheable, application architect Benno Rice told ZDNet. This reduces the amount of dynamic content that needs to be generated for each visitor and can hugely relieve the strain on your servers.

If pages can be valid for five minutes, for example, that's five minutes your server's not getting requests from that user, it was noted.

Aside from this, "there's the overall tuning of both your server, the execution environment for your application code and the database itself". Get these wrong and you could find many bottlenecks build up that could have a critical impact on your ability to deliver pages to users.

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