Office Hours Hangout: Fine-Tune Your Site for Black Friday & Cyber Monday Success

As we approach the big online shopping holiday weekend, we’re focusing our Office Hours Hangouts on being ready for Black Friday and Cyber Monday. We have covered new and improved Rackspace Tools for a successful Black Friday, monitoring infrastructure with Rackspace Intelligence and real-time application analytics with New Relic Insights. 

This week cohost Drew Cox, special guest Chris Bowe, a Rackspace Linux Support Service Engineer, and I brought it all together with a discussion of the different “levers” our customers can use to fine-tune their site for high traffic holiday success.

The two levers

When scaling for a high traffic event like Black Friday and Cyber Monday, Drew identified two distinct “levers” available to improve performance: add resources to the stack powering the application, or ask the resources to do less. Chris offered strategies for adding resources, including a choice between manual and automatic scaling.

When it comes to the second lever, asking the servers to do less, Chris focused on understanding how your specific application works, how it responds to normal and high traffic, and how it can be fine tuned to best handle that traffic.

Practice for Black Friday and Cyber Monday

No Office Hours Hangout is complete without a call for a “Fire Drill.” Drew emphasized the importance of executing a Black Friday dry run. Whatever strategy you choose to employ, take the time to spin up a testing environment, throw some load testing at it and see how it holds up.

The democratizing nature of the cloud allows anyone to deploy the right architecture — and as many test architectures as it takes — to thrive during massive traffic spikes. The cloud allows non-enterprise players to take advantage of the stability (through agility) previously only available to those with the largest budgets. With the right architecture, anyone can take advantage of this scale and stability. And Rackspace has the experience and knowledge to advise our customers in designing the architecture to best meet these challenges.

Architecture reviews

We wrapped up our show with a reminder that the best way to find that perfect balance of additional horsepower and fine-tuned application performance is to speak directly to us here at Rackspace. We spoke largely in broad examples, but each application is unique. An Architecture Review is the best way to work directly with Rackspace’s experts to find the solution that’s perfect for your specific needs.

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 MLB.com, 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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