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Holiday Readiness: Murphy's Law of Peak Season
The old adage states that "Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong". Managing Commerce Support has taught me that you only get as much out of your site as the preparation you put into it. A slight amendment of the law for a Commerce site during the holiday season should read "Anything that can go wrong, would have gone wrong, had you not anticipated it beforehand".
There are many aspects of preparation, and many approaches to consider for each. Let me give you an example of one very prepared client, best spoken in their own words.
"It is only September, and I am going to get a head start on preparing for Black Friday this year. Before the month is out, I'm going to get my migration to Commerce 7.0 done, that will leave me more than 2 months to do some quick functional testing. I still can't get over how excited my execs were when I told them all the money we can save by not bothering with performance testing, since our site is mostly out-of-the-box anyway, we know it will perform well. I'm still on the fence whether to recommend we implement Solr search for this holiday or not. I know we have another site where it is up and running, so we can just copy the config over quick if need be. The business tells me that they plan to run a 75% off sale on 2 or 3 specific products only on Black Friday. This should make it easier for the test team, as I can't anticipate any issues coming if users are only really going to go after such a small percentage of the items we have anyway. I have over 100 products in my local Toolkit, and performance as a whole seems fine. The database is barely even active when I browse the site. Probably not even worth the efforts to implement caching this point, if this is the case.
My colleague is nervous over that silly out-of-memory condition we had when we left the server running for a week during our test, but I don't see the big deal - after restarting it looked like the problem went away. We have a PMR for it with IBM, but they asked for data next time it happens, but I haven't had time to go through the MustGathers yet anyway, so I'll just close it up. We do have one blocking issue that I have another PMR with IBM for, opened a few weeks back. With our go-live planned for next week, I'll give them to Friday before I bump the sev 3 to a sev 1, and let them know that it will now severely impact my business. It's a show-stopper. We have to have that fixed by Monday. I'm confident IBM will figure it out though, so I've left it in their hands. Overall I'm excited for the holiday season. Knowing our site will be bullet-proof, I plan to be hunting around other sites to get some great deals! I need a new laptop badly. It's amazing I did a migration without a working touchpad! Thank goodness for silent install."
This is indeed a very prepared client. This client is prepared to fail. Obviously this mythical client is embellished to make a point. However, consider each and every statement made a mini-synopsis of a failure I've seen in my Commerce life. Don't overlook the obvious, or assume the irrelevant. Assume everything can come back to bite you if not considered - and addressed up front.
With Labour Day right around the corner, you should have already been thinking (and acting) on preparations for the peak holiday peak season. In the weeks ahead I'll share insights as to how the IBM Smarter Commerce Holiday Readiness program can help all clients prepare for their peak season. Risk mitigation thru e-support, best practices, lessons learned, troubleshooting hints and tips will all be at your disposal as you can learn from the IBM WebSphere Commerce performance experts across Support, Services, and Development to ensure a stable - and successful - 2014 holiday retail period.