Best Practices for Holiday Readiness – Site Performance and more

Are you prepared for the holiday season? At this point, you must have the forecast, in terms of business revenue, in the coming holiday. You have done the most difficult part. However, do you know if your infrastructure can handle the traffic that you forecast? If your answer is anything other than “YES!”, I hope these tips can help (at least to get started).

Tip #1: Check for Exceptions in Your Logs: More often than not, we overlook exceptions in the logs. These exceptions are logged for reasons, and they should be looked at. For each of the exceptions, Root Cause Analysis (RCA) must be performed. Based on the RCA, appropriate actions should be taken. For example, if the exception causes a functional impact, it must be fixed. If the exception is really meant for informational purpose, they should be trimmed down and cleaned up. Keep in mind that it takes processing power to generate logs. During peak hours of the year (e.g., Cyber-Monday), you don’t want any computing power to generate logs.

Tip #2: Review Your 3rd Party Integrations: All 3rd party integrations must be reviewed. First of all, identify all existing synchronous API calls to other applications through your server. If so, you might want to check and see if you can have the front-end to trigger the call. By having the front-end to trigger the call, you reduce the workload from the server. If these synchronous calls have to stay where they are, you need to closely monitor their response time. A good rule of thumb is that the timeout setting should be small. That way, your servers will not wait for the response for long, and thus resources can be freed up to handle other requests.

Tip #3: Review Your Caching Strategy: Assuming your CDN (Edge Caching) is setup efficiently, Caching policies in the application should be reviewed periodically to ensure contents are being cached efficiently. For example, increase Time-To-Live (TTL) for objects/contents that are not modified frequently. Besides caching policy, have you looked at the “Hit/Miss” ratio in your cache monitor? One of our holiday readiness activities has uncovered a bottleneck—insufficient memory allocation—in caching. When the team looks at the cache “Hit/Miss” ratio, we realized that we have a 1-to-3 “Hit/Miss” ratio consistently. Due to insufficient memory allocation, recently cached contents were forced being invalidated as newly cached contents come in. By increasing the memory allocation for the application caching, we have seen a great improvement in terms of “Hit/Miss” ratio.

Tip #4: Stress Test your System: The only way to see if your system is ready for the forecast traffic is through simulation. Simulate the forecast traffic in a lower environment (e.g., QA environment). If your lower environment is a scaled-down version of your production, you will need to scale down your traffic accordingly.

By testing, simulating, checking and rechecking the exceptions, your digital merchandising site will be ready for the holidays!

Now is the perfect time to be thinking about your website’s performance. Once you have gone through these steps, the next steps are inventory management, merchandising for maximum efficiency and scalability. Whether you need a little help, a major change, or even a WebSphere Commerce (now HCL Commerce) V9 migration, we can help. Contact us and let’s talk!

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