Office Hours Hangout: 3 Tasks to Offload for a Smoother Black Friday

We had a fun Office Hours show this week, continuing with our Black Friday theme, and including a surprise celebration of my three years as a Racker.

To continue with our previous Black Friday/Cyber Monday theme, this week we featured three tasks our customers can offload — to Rackspace or another third party partner — so they can focus on their core business, such as directing customers to their ecommerce site during the all important shopping holiday surge.

I’ve excerpted a few highlights with links to that part our conversation in the video farther down in the post. Directly below, you’ll find the full video and an audio-only link.

Full Video

Audio Podcast

What’s up with the confetti?

If you’ve watched, you might wonder why I spent most of the show covered in confetti. Thursday was my third anniversary as a Racker, and some friends congratulated me by ambushing me with cascarones and third “Rackerversary” signs during the Hangout.

This meant a lot to me, and it’s one of the reasons I’m honored to be a Racker. It was a great way for my friends and colleagues to show their appreciation in a unique (and very public) way. Thank you.

Why offload tasks?

While I cleaned up what confetti I could, cohost Drew Cox explained why we think it’s important to offload tasks during Black Friday. We find that when customers narrow their focus to the tasks most central to their core business, and allow Rackspace and others to take on some of the non-core tasks, they’re more successful in executing their core mission.

Offload static assets to a CDN

The first, and likely easiest to implement task we recommend offloading is putting static content onto a content delivery network, or CDN. Placing static assets onto a CDN allows them to load more quickly — and we all know that potential customers will bounce quickly out of a site if they’re frustrated by slowly loading pages. Ecommerce sites with beautiful, high-resolution pictures of products for sale are very effective, but those images must be delivered quickly to customers. Rackspace’s new origin pull CDN makes it even easier than before.

Offload user authentication

Our second recommendation is to offload the tasks of user authentication and identity management. Over the last few weeks Drew, our guests, and I have outlined several best practices to keep our customers web stores online during the upcoming high traffic events around Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Keeping a store online won’t matter if customers can’t sign up for an account to access the site and manage their account. We recommend a third party partner, Stormpath, to handle this component for our customers. Stormpath focuses on security and user management, so our customers can focus on their business.

Offload system administration

Finally, we recommend offloading system administration to Rackspace. Our Managed Operations service level provides a higher degree of support, so our SysAdmins can work on your behalf to keep customer sites up and running through the peaks.

Additionally, the Managed Operations support level allows customers to access our 10x SLA, in which we offer ten times our usual service level agreement for customers who are planning for a high traffic event, and work directly with us to craft a plan for success. One of our favorite Office Hours guests, Bold Innovations, was our very first 10x SLA customer. They have a great story about a Black Friday that started poorly on another host, but was turned around by Rackspace in time for a very successful Cyber Monday. The Bold team joined us for a Hangout earlier this year to discuss how Rackspace Managed Operations helps them successfully navigate high traffic events.

That’s it for this week, be sure to watch our new show every week, live at 1 p.m. Central, and on-demand audio podcasts available via iTunes, or your favorite podcasting app.

Alan is a former Racker, who also helped create the Stevie Award winning onboarding program for cloud collaboration suite Central Desktop, working directly with companies and organizations like, Sesame Workshop, and IEEE. When he's not helping customers learn how to build awesome things in the cloud, he can be found performing improv comedy with ComedySportz San Antonio, or volunteering with the Alamo Beard Club.


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