Holiday website traffic

The holiday shopping season has begun and E-retail sales are up more than  15% from last years’ traffic for post-thanksgiving sales. Retailers are driving more customers to their web sites with deals and special offers exclusively for the web customer. I know a few people who finished their Thanksgiving dinner, washed some dishes and logged onto their favorite site for some early season purchases.  Using their iPads.  According to a recently released IBM report (Thanksgiving day) 27% of the traffic is coming from tablets and smartphones.

Knowing your tiers and application performance management

The Software performance engineering body of knowledge has five knowledge areas;  the Knowledge Area most relevant for monitoring your production web sites is Application performance management (APM).  This area is critical to a successful holiday season, for retail websites. Because, at this point in the calendar year for Retail websites, its money time and freeze time.  Many companies minimize the changes to production systems, so as not to introduce instability and problems during their businesses peak time.  During the year design and development occurred to enhance the web site and now it’s the play-offs for Retail web sites. This is where software performance is directly tied to revenue.  A direct ROI for all the software performance engineering tasks and activities in the Enterprise. There are numerous studies out there that directly correlate web site performance to increased revenue.

By implementing an Application Performance Management solution you can be proactive when it comes to your customers’ web site experience. These tools can monitor every transaction that goes across your web site.  You can enable early warning alerts for transactions that are slowing down and react before they become a problem. They will show you all the points between your order database and your customers Safari browser, Chrome browser, Internet Explorer or iPad. Do you know all the components in your order entry process?

This new generation of APM tools is very powerful and fast.  They can install very quickly and discover what is going on in your system.  Usually, the biggest hurdle to adopting these tools is the processes within the companies.  I have seen and continue to see companies in the situation where there are performance issues, where they have partial  APM solutions that are a combination of COTS tools and custom developed scripts, ,they are time consuming and problematic.  This partial solution cannot see when the user experience is slowing down, they can only react when there is noticeable issue.  So, the companies have a problem that repeats, and they will not install these new generation tools, until the budgeting process occurs.  As an aside, many companies claim they are Agile, their processes say otherwise. Getting tools into production takes paperwork, testing and vetting, and planning and training.  But, this should not be a reason to wait until the next quarter.

In one of my papers “Consequences of poorly performing systems” I attempt to quantify the cost of these unforeseen and unplanned production issues.  I believe the performance engineer is able to justify the purchase of these new tools.  The costs of using an incomplete APM solution can be calculated, people and time, unplanned capital expenses, missed sales, etc.  The benefits of a full APM solution can be quantified.

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