There has been a lot of discussion—since 2008, in fact—about the consequences of intensified demand on London’s data centres during the Olympics. As a retailer, you may have taken note of the warnings and put a plan in place long ago to ensure your infrastructure’s uptime and reliability. You’re sorted. Right?
Maybe not. If you haven’t considered how your third-party application providers could impact your website during the Olympics you could be putting your business at risk. Recommendations, reviews, video, gamefication—any time you’re adding technology to your site through a partner, you need to consider what precautions they’re taking to ensure their own data centre solutions are reliable. If one of your features goes down it could disappear from your site or, worse, cause your site to slow down significantly.
It’s too late to make serious changes before the Games, but the Olympic challenge retailers are about to face does shine a much needed spotlight on this issue. So what can to ensure your website is as good as gold? Here are three things to ask for when choosing a third-party technology vendor:
• How many data centres do you have? One data centre is not enough. Even giants can fail (see: Amazon Web Services outages) so make sure your potential vendor has multiple data centres that are geographically load balanced.
• Are your data centres fully redundant? Look for technologies that are built on a fully redundant self-healing service. Each of the company’s data centres should run as a separate standing replicate of the others and should failover to a secondary and tertiary data centre or region.
• How often do you test your data centres’ response times? Your potential vendor should be running tests every few minutes at least to verify response rate and availability. This will enable them to capture any anomalies that a region may have including latency, bad content and timeouts.
The intensified demand and consequent risk for London’s data centres during the Olympics has some companies taking drastic measures. Interxion, for example, is actually going so far as to install sleeping pods at its London data centre campus, so that on-call engineers can be on site 24-7 to ensure uptime for its customers. But if you do your homework and choose your vendors with a keen eye to their vigilance and dedication to performance standards, you’ll be able to sleep easy regardless of what energy demands are thrown at your website. No pod necessary.
Darren Hitchcock is vice president of UK and European territories at online recommendation and personalisation firm RichRelevance.
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