Count down to Customer Catastrophe

by mbodding ‎11-10-2015 06:37 PM - edited ‎11-10-2015 06:37 PM (6,575 Views)


According to the Daily Telegraph, Black Friday was the busiest shopping day in the whole of the Christmas sales period last year. While another American born Purchasing phenomenon: “Cyber Monday” occupied the number 2 slot. Black Friday is relatively new to us in the UK, but has been an annual event in the US for a long time. Us Brits spent 1.5 billion pounds during that one weekend last year, and we’re predicted to spend around 2 billion this year.


We are currently 16 days away from the biggest retail event of the year. The clock is ticking. So let’s imagine for a moment that you are retail magnate Theo Pahpitis, and ask “What Would Theo Do?”.


Theo owns a number of Bricks and Mortar retail outlets including Rymans and Boux Avenue. I would imagine that for those physical outlets, he’s doing things like:


  • Making sure the stock rooms in each store are filled to bursting point.
  • Removing obstacles so that more people can physically get in and out of the store efficiently.
  • Increasing the number of staff in each store.
  • He might also be thinking about hiring some additional security staff.

I guess that the problems in a physical store on Black Friday are mostly logistical, due to the physical and very real confines of the retail space available. But like all businesses in the 21st century Rymans and Boux Avenue also have online outlets. The problems of online stores are quite different, I would image that Theo is:


  • Making sure the warehouse is stocked to bursting point.
  • Streamlining the website so people can get in and out while using less resources
  • Increasing the number of compute nodes available to service the users
  • Adding additional security

Oh wait, that list is actually quite similar. If you think about it though, an online store just swaps staff for servers, retail space for a catalogue, and Barry the Bouncer for DDoS Mitigation.


The problems with online retail often occur when the store is full, and that’s because the online store lacks the real and solid confines present in a physical one. There’s no bricks and mortar surrounding the shop to physically limit the number of customers in the store, and there’s no velvet ropes to order people into queues at the checkout.


It’s a free-for-all, which usually only ends one way. HTTP 500 Internal Server Error!


If only Theo had some way to add intelligence to the network, in order to replicate the physical protections of a real shop. If only he could limit the number of users to manageable levels, and prevent the resource exhaustion that often results in the dreaded internal server error.


If Theo had purchased some vADC tech from Brocade, then he might just be able to do that.


The linked TrafficScript library would allow Theo to limit and fairly queue his online retail customers. The script needs to know how many simultaneous sessions that the online store can handle, and then it will ensure that the ADC does not allow more users than that pre-set limit.


If a user attempts to enter the store when it is already full, then the ADC can provide them with a holding page (ie put them in a queue). That holding page can be branded and contain information about their physical position in the queue, and perhaps even a waiting time. The queue can count down as customers exit the store, and eventually everyone can get in and shop.


Customer Catastrophe Avoided.