How to Turn Black Friday Pandemonium into Profit — Buff Up Your Databases

Posted by Alex Slotnick on Oct 22, 2015 2:11:40 PM

Black Friday means two major things to retailers in 2015: opportunity and chaos. These ideas go hand-in-hand, of course. On the biggest shopping weekend of the year, retailers find themselves faced with the opportunity to benefit from the demands of wave after wave of customers – if those waves don’t crush them first. News stations across the country delight in covering the annual craziness at retailers’ physical locations, and over the past few years, many of us have gotten used to watching highlight clips of shopping anarchy, the morning after Turkey Day, while we recover from our tryptophan comas.


But no matter how overloaded a retailer’s physical location gets on Black Friday weekend, there are ways for a retailer’s database to avoid experiencing similar disarray. (No small task, we know – some of us at VividCortex have retail experience, and we understand the DBA’s plight when confronted with holiday shopping data). That’s especially true when it comes to a retailer’s digital storefront. As more and more retailers offer digital Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals that compete with ones you can find in-store, it’s a foregone conclusion that the weekend’s shopping puts more strain on retailers’ databases than any other time of year. And, of course, system outages during such a crucial shopping period are a disaster; an outage means lost time, and all lost time translates to lost opportunity, lost profit, and lost satisfaction for customers.

That means that digital retailers need to prepare for such a spike in traffic and workload. They need to know that their systems are ready far in advance – way before any turkeys are even popped in the oven, or, for that matter, stuffed and basted – not in the middle of the chaos itself. It should come as no surprise that we urge you to consider a database monitoring system, not just as a failsafe, but as a necessary tool. It won’t only prevent major issues; it’ll also optimize your opportunity for gains as you cut through the chaos.

We recognize that it might be tempting to try to head off any potential problems by employing what seems to be a savvy alternative solution, such as a system freeze. Unfortunately, something like a freeze can often make a problem worse. Our CEO Baron Schwartz wrote an insightful and thorough article during last year’s Black Friday weekend, explaining why deployment freezes don’t prevent outages.

Freezes never, but never, work. You can declare a freeze, but you can’t make it happen. This follows naturally from the inability to actually stop the systems from changing. Systems that change are going to break, and you have to respond to this.

If deployments are disallowed when an issue manifests, that makes the problem doubly severe. There’s no way to cut the Gordian Knot on Black Friday – you really do need to give your database the attention it deserves.

The best idea would be to get a database monitoring tool set-up on your system as soon as possible, so that when Black Friday crashes down next month, you’re fully prepared to monitor; make sure that when the activity gets intense, you can handle any and all hiccups with ease. And then, of course, you’ll be ready to benefit from such tools for the rest of the year – even during slow times, there are often issues for which a monitoring tool is invaluable, as code can find ways to negatively impact the system, subtly, even when the system seems quiet.

If you’re a digital retailer, we welcome you to get VividCortex deployed on your system, to enjoy better visibility of your database than ever before during Black Friday, during your databases’ busiest times, and then to witness how database monitoring will continue to provide you with value every week of the year.

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