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Sleigh Bells Ring, Is Your Site Up? Five Last-Minute Tips

With Thanksgiving falling late this year, retailers and brands are scrambling to deal with almost a week less of shopping time between turkey day and the big day. With less time, the stakes are higher than ever to ensure your site’s uptime. There are sites that are too big to fail (e.g., and there are entire seasons that are too big to fail, and for retailers: ‘Tis the season.

While you can’t boil the ocean this late in the game, here are 5 last-minute tips to ensure success:

1. Triple-check that you don’t have a SPOF: The most common Single Point of Failure (SPOF) is lack of redundancy across the entire stack. This includes application redundancy as well as the main systems the app calls upon: database, file system, and through the web servers. So come on and double it.

2. Protect your servers from DDoS attacks and other security vulnerabilities: SC Magazine has a great article, Tips to protect eCommerce website availability and security during the holidays. One of the key takeaways is, “With the increase in size and complexity of distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks, companies should consider leveraging upstream service providers to protect both Web servers and DNS. If either goes down, a company could be out of business. A cloud-based approach to both DNS management and DDoS protection provides a cost-effective alternative to maintaining uptime.”

3. Make sure your SWAT team and DR protocols are in place: Your Disaster Recovery strategy can’t lie solely with systems, you need your team as well as your process completely documented so everyone knows their role. The absence of a documented process will prolong an outage significantly.

Don't test code in prod!4. Do not deploy new code without aggressive testing: 1) You should be in lockdown. 2) If you’re not...It feels like we shouldn’t have to say this, but with the most high profile sites still getting this wrong, I’ll repeat: DO NOT deploy new code without multiple app performance, security, and load tests, in a testing environment.

5. Ensure marketing/IT alignment: Forrester’s Peter Sheldon recently published a report Is Your Site Ready For The Holidays? and he said, “One of the biggest causes of eCommerce site outages is unexpected consumer demand for "must-have" or "back-in-stock" products that create high volume loads on the eCommerce infrastructure, especially when paired with direct marketing campaigns. Unfortunately, all too often these scenarios are avoidable and caused by a failure of the marketing or merchandising teams to communicate their plans to IT.” So if you’re not already aligned, call a marketing/IT all-hands stat.

Happy Holidays and good luck!

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