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November 14, 2016

Data centre operators warned to prepare for Black Friday traffic surge

BroadGroup warns operators to begin performance tests ahead of expected customer traffic.

By Hannah Williams

As Black Friday retailers prepare their discounts and sales, data centre operators have been warned to prepare for an infrastructure melee, potentially on the scale of a DDoS attack, from the anticipated surge in customer traffic.

BroadGroup have advised operators to undertake 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.

black fridayPhilip 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.”

Regardless of how prepared operators might be, it is difficult to make Black Friday/ Cyber Monday 100 percent fail-proof.

Cyber Monday follows the Monday after Black Friday sales, created by marketing companies to persuade online shopping.

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Low added: “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’s sales saw £1.1bn spent on Black Friday, while £968m was splashed on Monday by UK shoppers in a five-day haul in 2015. This made the last weekend of November stand out from other sales events held in the year.

Low went on to say: “Last year, an unpredicted 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 plans this is where most plan to be this time around.”

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