Black Friday: how to prepare the server

Black Friday: how to prepare the server

Author: HostZealot Team
2 min.

In Europe and the U.S., Black Friday is one of the most profitable discount seasons. According to the Adobe Experience Cloud, in 2022 sales will reach $209.7 billion. In the U.S. market, the highest profit will be made by electronics manufacturers ($49.8 billion), followed by clothing ($40.7 billion). At the same time, most sales are expected in the sphere of e-commerce, as in recent years, online commerce demonstrates stable growth from year to year.

In practice, this means that the servers of online stores and retail sites will have to face an influx of customers. This, of course, will lead to an increase in load. And if you do not want to remain on the sidelines during Black Friday, we recommend that you make serious preparations in advance. This article will tell you how to prepare your server for an influx of shoppers.

Making load forecasts

Load testing is the first thing to do. Such a stress test will allow you to assess the capabilities of the current server in terms of processing incoming requests. For load testing, there are many different tools – paid and free. We will mention the most universal and popular solutions:

  1. Apache JMeter. A free open-source tool whose main function is to test the maximum allowable server loads. The good thing is that it is available on any platform – over the years of development, the team managed to adapt it to all existing operating systems. The versatility and flexibility of Apache JMeter are due to the fact that the tool can work both in a graphical shell and through the console. Here, by the way, is one of the best IDEs you can use for writing and debugging performance tests.
  2. Locust. A simple, lightweight, and handy tool that allows you to determine the response time and the number of users the server can handle at the same time. The developers have implemented an interesting possibility to create your own test scripts using Python. By the way, it is also suitable for testing various APIs.
  3. Artillery. A little-known but very good service for simulating server load of several thousand users simultaneously. It allows you to estimate such metrics as latency, requests per second, average response time, and server throughput. In general, it is highly versatile.

To correctly predict the expected load on your site on Black Friday, we recommend studying last year's conversion data. What was the percentage jump relative to normal days – about the same will be this time. With small possible deviations, of course.

If it turns out that the current server capacity is not enough to provide work during the discount period, we recommend switching to a more powerful VPS or dedicated server in advance. Missed profits can be much more expensive, and the rate plan can be changed back to a cheaper one after all the pre-Christmas promotions. Such an opportunity is provided, in particular, by the HostZealot company.

Optimizing server settings

Depending on your online store's infrastructure architecture, you have three possible ways to scale:

  1. Vertical.
  2. Horizontal.
  3. Involvement of IT infrastructure architects.

Let's take a closer look at each option.

Vertical scaling

This option is good for those companies that can make accurate predictions about the level of sales on Black Friday. Provided that the current architecture of the service allows you to increase the number of served sessions simply by increasing the server capacity. If you are using a specialized CMS, geared for E-commerce, there will be no problems.

If your infrastructure is located in the cloud, then vertical scaling will only require increasing the amount of available server capacity. Add processor cores, increase the amount of RAM, and expand disk space. As a rule, any self-respecting hosting provider offers such opportunities.

Users of their own physical servers will have a harder time because they will need to buy new, more powerful hardware and replace the old. This is the only way to increase the available capacity in vertical scaling.

Horizontal scaling

In this case, we are talking about increasing the capacity by adding new servers and joining them to existing ones. This solution is suitable for systems that can run on a cluster. That is, you need an architecture that uses a network balancer. Thanks to the balancer the load is evenly distributed between the individual servers, which together form a cluster. Both physical servers and cloud servers can be combined – it does not matter.

In some cases, hybrid solutions are used where some of the capacity is located in the cloud and some are physical servers. In such cases, as a rule, the physical server is always load-bearing and the cloud performs a supporting function.

The horizontal scaling of physical servers is very simple: as soon as you see that the current capacity becomes insufficient, you just need to buy additional server racks and connect them to the current infrastructure.

Involvement of IT infrastructure architects

It may also be the case that your current server architecture will not allow you to get tangible benefits from vertical or horizontal scaling. In this case, it is recommended that you engage a specialist to analyze it and prepare an effective plan for scaling capacity and preparing it for high loads.

Among other things, such a specialist can:

  • protect the server from DDoS attacks;
  • speed up content loading by optimizing server settings, scripts, and configuration files;
  • protect the server from any other types of threats, from hacking to SQL injection.

If you still have questions, please contact our experts through Livechat. We'll help you find the best plan to meet your Black Friday sale season needs.

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