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Print 25 comment(s) - last by ultimatebob.. on Dec 1 at 11:59 AM

Just like retail stores during Black Friday, retailer web sites also had lots of visitors -- too many for some

Several major retailers reportedly had issues with high amounts of web traffic on their web sites during Black Friday.  Wal-Mart's web site was difficult to access in the morning, leaving users with blank pages, delays and/or other problems.  In the early afternoon, the web site just told users to come back at a later time.  comScore Media Metrix says Walmart.com is the 21st most popular web site in the U.S., with almost 23 million unique visitors going to the site in September. 

The possibility of purchasing one of 1,000 Microsoft Xbox 360 Core consoles  for $100 caused Amazon.com to slow down around 11AM PST yesterday.  The small amount of Xbox 360 Core consoles sold out 29 seconds after the deal went live.  Amazon's web site appeared to be back to normal within 15 minutes of the Xbox 360 deal ending.   The additional traffic brought some affiliate Amazon sites to a crawl, such as Target.com.

Disney's shopping site was relatively okay, but still had congestion several clicks into the site, according to a spokesman for DisneyShopping.com.  Even non-gift oriented sites experienced some traffic pains, as peripheral shopping engines like Shopping.com and PriceGrabber.com posted all time traffic records, and annoying load times.

A VISA spokesperson later confirmed that e-commerce sales were significantly off expectations, claiming good weather prompted customers to turn off the computer and drive to the stores instead.

Black Friday, the day following Thanksgiving, has often times been one of the busiest U.S. shopping days of the year.  As more retailers begin offering better deals on their web sites, they are getting better at dealing with the increased traffic.  However, poor web experiences has been an alarming trend for users attempting to stay out of the lines at the brick and mortar stores.

comScore reported eBay tallied in at over 7.5M IP addresses just on Friday alone, with high expectations for "Cyber Monday" as well.  Cyber Monday is the term recently coined to describe the Monday immediately following Black Friday, and has also recently been a strong shopping session.


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RE: ...
By Furen on 11/26/2006 3:44:29 AM , Rating: 2
Like what? Buy more servers for a day? There isn't much that can be done since traffic spikes of this magnitude are not wont to happen often but are significantly more intense than anything a brick and mortar store will experience (you can only fit so many people into a Walmart before people just stop trying to get in).


RE: ...
By KristopherKubicki (blog) on 11/26/2006 5:58:57 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
Like what? Buy more servers for a day?


Exactly. In retail you hire temp employees for the holiday season. There are already virtual versions of this:

http://www.google.com/search?num=100&hl=en&sa=X&oi...



RE: ...
By shilala on 11/26/2006 8:08:03 AM , Rating: 2
Does not Microsoft use Akamai? I remember an Akamai downloader when they distributed one of the Pre-Vista packages.
Until now I hadn't thought anything of it. Maybe they were using rent-a-servers to alleviate the influx/overload?


RE: ...
By Lazarus Dark on 11/26/2006 8:13:20 AM , Rating: 2
the wikipedia for akamai lists microsoft as a customer.


RE: ...
By Slaimus on 11/29/2006 10:59:42 AM , Rating: 2
Akamai is a web caching service. If the data is dynamic, like whether you are the first 1000 or not, cannot be cached. All Akamai can do is offload requests to images and stylesheets.


RE: ...
By Tyler 86 on 11/30/2006 9:53:38 PM , Rating: 2
If the data is dynamic, represent and display it to the browser with a static client-side executing script, cookies, and very small, even compressed, dynamic server items... let Akamai cache the static data... but they haven't hired me, so... 'eff 'em ...


RE: ...
By Furen on 11/27/2006 2:14:31 AM , Rating: 2
Yes, but just how much capacity is needed to deal with this kind of thing? Is it even worth the cost? The problem online is not a higher seasonal utilization but rather insane instantaneous spikes of utilization VERY sporadically. I doubt Amazon would have been able to "rent" Akamai's service for the 30 minutes it needed the help for, and certainly not at in a cost-effective manner. Walmart's 10-hour problem is a different matter, though.


RE: ...
By ToeCutter on 11/27/2006 10:58:12 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
Yes, but just how much capacity is needed to deal with this kind of thing? Is it even worth the cost?


Considering that most retailers hope to close 40% of their annual revenue in the weeks between Black Friday to Dec 20, preparing for the increased traffic is probably worth some extra effort.


RE: ...
By ultimatebob on 12/1/2006 11:59:10 AM , Rating: 2
A company as big as Amazon.com should be able to afford some "Capacity On Demand" servers that automatically activate extra processors and memory held in reserve to handle peak loads. IBM builds these, and I'd be suprised if other server manufacturers didn't offer it as well.


"The Space Elevator will be built about 50 years after everyone stops laughing" -- Sir Arthur C. Clarke

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