The Performance Beacon

The web performance, analytics, and optimization blog

SOASTA Delivers Retail Readiness Success Once Again

As has been the case over the last few years, reports have been released documenting the commercial success, and failures, during this holiday shopping season.  By all accounts, online shopping continues to grab market share, and shopping from mobile devices, particularly tablets, has grown dramatically.  And, as usual, there have been reports of site issues under the stress of increased traffic.

At SOASTA, we’re very proud of the success our customers experienced during this shopping season.  CloudTest is used for seasonal readiness testing by many companies around the world, including 8 of the top 10 retailers in the US.  Some have brought CloudTest in-house, while others take advantage of SOASTA’s world-class Performance Engineering team and use our managed, on-demand testing service.

What did we find?  Over the course of testing we helped our customers track down and remedy a variety of issues that would have caused performance problems if not found.  Misconfigured load balancers, incorrect use of CDNs, poorly performing back-end systems, insufficient bandwidth and poorly designed database queries were some of the common issues uncovered during testing.

Having tested for seasonal readiness the last few years, we’ve begun to see some positive changes in approach.  SOASTA’s Quality First Methodology promotes iterative testing early and often, in QA and at scale, and representing real traffic as accurately as possible.  This year, more companies started testing far earlier, avoiding the last second dash to the finish line (and stress) so often associated with performance testing.  Many also anticipated, and tuned their testing, to accommodate the increased mobile traffic.

Were the results perfect?  They never will be.  We always strive to squeeze out every ounce of performance possible for our customers.  The constant battle between rich, compelling content and high performance continues to be waged as companies try to find the balance that yields the best possible user experience.  Even after the success of 2013 we will work with our customers to improve.  Which, by the way, is one of the things that makes performance such a satisfying business.

Going into 2014, among the things SOASTA recommends is planning for early for seasonal readiness (and any other events that might cause traffic to spike).  Companies should test end-to-end and monitor and measure every aspect of their apps and infrastructure.  They should test 2 to 3 times expected peak volume; for stress, duration, capacity and sudden spikes.  They should expect even more mobile traffic and work closely with the business to understand how promotions and marketing will impact site visitors.  We are happy to share our experience in helping to develop testing strategies.

It’s worth noting that for the first time, this year many of our customers took advantage of the data provided by mPulse, SOASTA’s Real User Monitoring solution, to better understand their user’s experience, and resulting behavior, based on the actual users that visited their site.  This not only gave them an accurate picture of performance and associated business metrics, but it also helped them determine the appropriate workload modeling for their performance testing.

We at SOASTA would like to congratulate our customers for their success this holiday season.  For providing a great user experience, but most importantly, for getting all of those shoppers to visit in the first place!

Tom Lounibos

About the Author

Tom Lounibos

As CEO of SOASTA, Tom brings more than 30 years of experience building early stage software companies, leading two companies to successful IPOs. Tom is a regular speaker at both cloud and testing events, and has become a leading advocate in using the cloud to empower individuals and accelerate changes in how applications are built, tested and deployed. Most recently, Tom served as President and CEO of Kenamea. Prior to Kenamea, he was CEO of Dorado Corp., a financial services software provider. Previous to Dorado, he was EVP of Sagent Technology through its 1999 IPO, entrepreneur-in-residence at Crosspoint Venture Partners, and held executive positions at Digitalk Corp., Knowledgeware (KWI) and Encore Financial Services. Tom also serves on several boards in the Silicon Valley.