Black Friday and Cyber Monday will put datacentre operations under extreme stress over the annual super-shopping weekend

Black Friday has become the biggest shopping day of the year, when retailers knock prices across much of their stock to kick-start the gift-buying season but BroadGroup has warned datacentres to prepare for an infrastructure melee potentially on the scale of a DDoS-attack from the expected deluge of customers.
Philip Low, Chairman of BroadGroup said: “This year, internet sales over the 24-hour period are expected to surpass £1bn for the first time in UK history. The hysteria surrounding this, now famous, weekend tests IT infrastructure and websites to the limits. Most brands and operators will have stress-tested their equipment and both tweaked and optimised code and hardware set-ups to maintain performance levels during peak times, however many just don’t know what might happen.”

£1.1bn was spent on Black Friday while £968m was splashed on Monday by UK shoppers in a five-day frenzy a year ago; making the last weekend of November like no other sales event in the year – a ‘Black Five Day!’

Operators should be undertaking extreme performance tests of their systems up to peak loads to practice breakdown scenarios. Simulating major incidents to test contingency plans will enable operators to understand how they will cope with a “dam burst” scenario if faced with a larger than expected influx of traffic on the day. Regardless of how prepared operators might be, it is difficult to make Black Friday/Cyber Monday 100% fail-proof. Low continued, “It isn’t too late to put some basic measures in place such as queuing systems to control surges of customers to reduce the chances of a site crashing. A queue would also relieve strain on any back-end operations while any fixes are implemented.”

“Last year, an unprecedented level of customer demand saw the websites of several high-profile retailers buckle under pressure. Retailers and operators working for retailers should think about peak trading as a crisis that they know will happen in advance. Preparation is vital, and retailers need to consider their business and operational plans for the period. With the right plan this is where most plan to be this time around,” added Low.