Welcome!

AJAX & REA Authors: Scott Hirsch, David H Deans, Carmen Gonzalez, Pat Romanski, Aria Blog

Related Topics: SOA & WOA, Java, XML, AJAX & REA, Web 2.0, Big Data Journal

SOA & WOA: Article

With Confidence Through the Holiday Season: Manage Success in Production

The top goal for eCommerce sites is to ensure high conversion rates as this converts into business

In our last two articles, we discussed what we have learned from last year's holiday season as well as things that we can do in the preparation phase for this year's upcoming event. In this blog we show you those dashboards and data points you need throughout the holiday season to make it a success.

The top goal for eCommerce sites is to ensure high conversion rates as this converts into business. IT's responsibility is to ensure that consumers can use the eCommerce site in an "enjoyable" way. But there is much more than measuring the UpTime or Response Time of your services. The dashboards shown are taken from other eCommerce sites used to monitor the health of their application, infrastructure as well as end user satisfaction and conversion rate.

#1: Infrastructure and Application Health

Dashboards need to show the system health impact on applications, services and processes. If no systems are impacted it has less priority to deal with high CPU, Memory, ...

Applications ultimately run on an IT Infrastructure; whether these machines are "physical", virtualized, or running in the cloud. Ensuring a healthy infrastructure is the key requirement for IT. But it is more important to know whether there is an immediate impact on the hosted applications, services and processes. Before upgrading any hardware, reconfiguring your routing tables, or bouncing your application, it is important to understand whether it actually impacts the application and the end user. Just because you run on 95% of CPU doesn't mean it's a problem - maybe your developers just built a perfect system that consumes all resources available in an optimum manner.

You need a dashboard that alerts on system monitoring issues but also take into account the applications, services, and processes running on them. Are these impacted by the resource shortage or not? That answer dictates your action if you know what is actually impacted.

#2: Application Performance

What are they key performance indicators per application? Are end users impacted by bad response times or failures? Is it the App or the underlying infrastructure?

The second dashboard you need focuses on the application, its performance, and impact on the end user. It answers the following critical questions:

  1. How much traffic is currently on the page? Is it still climbing? Is it outside the norm?
  2. Do we have an unusual high failure rate, e.g., failed credit card transactions, abandoned carts?
  3. What is the overall response time and is it violating my baseline?
  4. Is the application impacted by unhealthy app or web servers, e.g., high GC
  5. Are the hosts (physical, virtual or in the cloud) running into CPU, Memory or I/O limits?
  6. Are end users currently impacted when accessing the app? Are they leaving because of bad user experience?
  7. What is the current conversion rate or are we making money?

#3: Regional Availability and User Experience

How is user experience in our target markets? Any regional availability or performance problems?

The first two dashboards in this blog analyzed performance from within our datacenter. The dashboards above and below now focus on performance perceived from the outside - meaning - from the real end user perspective. You need to know if your app is not reachable from a specific region or when conversion rate drops even though your servers are doing fine. These two dashboards answer the following important questions for you:

  1. Is my site reachable from my key regional markets?
  2. If I am not reachable: How long did the outage last and did it impact Users?
  3. How many users do we have per region and what was their User Experience?
  4. How does the traffic per region develop over time?
  5. How is our conversion rate over time and how many orders do we actually get in?

How is conversion rate and number of orders evolving over time? If we have a drop in conversions - is it related to a regional problem or is it related to general system health issues in our data center?

#4: Real User Experience on the Conversion Funnel

Learning how users move through the conversion funnel, where they drop off and how response time and end user experience (APDEX) impacts the conversion funnel

You need a dedicated dashboard for all important actions along your conversion funnel. That includes landing pages and actions such as search, product details, add to cart and checkout. The dashboard helps you to understand:

  1. How many users you have on each conversion funnel step?
  2. Do they encounter problems during a particular action and is that the reason for a drop?
  3. How fast is each step and does it have an impact on end user experience?

#5: Third Party Monitoring dashboard

How fast is static content delivered by Akamai & Co? Are there spikes or outages that impact my end users?

Most eCommerce sites rely on third-party content which not only impacts the feature set of the site but also performance and with that end user experience. Third Party Monitoring requires a view from two different angles: The third parties that are directly included into your website or mobile app and the external services you call from your backend.

These are the questions your Third Party Monitoring dashboard has to answer:

  1. Are the resources delivered via CDN fast or do we have regional problems?
  2. Is the integrated social media (Facebook, LinkedIn, Xing...) slow?
  3. Are the backend services facing bad requests to the integrate third parties?
  4. Is the performance of the third party good?

How fast and reliable are third party services such as facebook or Google API? Does it impact the failure rate of my application?

#6: Desktop Web vs. Mobile Web vs. Mobile App dashboard

Get to know your users: what devices to they use and does that impact user experience?

Your potential customers can use desktops, tablets or smart phones to access your site. They will either have fast WiFi or slow dial-up speed. All of this impacts user experience. In order to analyze performance and optimize your site for these types of browsers, devices and connection speed you need a dashboard that tells you:

  1. How many users are accessing my portal via Mobile App or Mobile Browser?
  2. What are the top browsers used? Do we need specific optimized pages for older browsers?
  3. Do we need to optimize for lower bandwidths, e.g: use better image compression?
  4. Is there a difference between the Key Performance Indicators (KPI) depending on the different types of devices, browsers, mobile native vs. mobile web?

When disaster strikes: Collaborate with R&D
It is likely that you have smaller hiccups throughout the holiday season. To avoid lengthy and painful war room situations it is important to level-up your monitoring system and provide data your engineering team needs to speed up error resolution. Here is a list of capabilities that will speed up triage and error resolution:

  1. Capture all actions of each visitor
  2. Collect Crashes, JavaScript Errors, iOS/Andorid Exceptions from your mobile app
  3. Provide method level visibility on the server side including context information such as method arguments and return values
  4. Provide the ability for memory heap dumps and access to all requested application performance metrics, e.g: connection pool, thread count, heap sizes, ...
  5. Use tools to capture this data that developers already use and that also allow sharing data from different environments.

This level of detail is what developers need to understand what exactly went wrong instead of digging through giga bytes of log files

Crash information from mobile native apps by mobile device and version makes it easy to fix specific problems

Conclusion
Having these types of dashboards make it easy to monitor the success of the holiday season and also easy to react on problems and prevent larger damage by executing the right actions. Make sure you do not waste your time with problems that are not real, e.g., an individual user complains or trying to find a problem related to a regional outage of an ISP. Focus on those problems that impact a large number of users and that you can fix. This will make sure you keep conversion rate high and business flowing.

For further reading check out our other recent blogs such as DevOps Survival Guide: 2013 Online Holiday Shopping Season and With Confidence into the Holiday Season: Verifying Readiness in Test / Pre-Production

More Stories By Klaus Enzenhofer

Klaus Enzenhofer has several years of experience and expertise in the field of Web Performance Optimization and User Experience Management. He works as Technical Strategist in the Center of Excellence Team at dynaTrace Software. In this role he influences the development of the dynaTrace Application Performance Management Solution and the Web Performance Optimization Tool dynaTrace AJAX Edition. He mainly gathered his experience in web and performance by developing and running large-scale web portals at Tiscover GmbH.

Comments (0)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


@CloudExpo Stories
Samsung VP Jacopo Lenzi, who headed the company's recent SmartThings acquisition under the auspices of Samsung's Open Innovaction Center (OIC), answered a few questions we had about the deal. This interview was in conjunction with our interview with SmartThings CEO Alex Hawkinson. IoT Journal: SmartThings was developed in an open, standards-agnostic platform, and will now be part of Samsung's Open Innovation Center. Can you elaborate on your commitment to keep the platform open? Jacopo Lenzi: S...
The major cloud platforms defy a simple, side-by-side analysis. Each of the major IaaS public-cloud platforms offers their own unique strengths and functionality. Options for on-site private cloud are diverse as well, and must be designed and deployed while taking existing legacy architecture and infrastructure into account. Then the reality is that most enterprises are embarking on a hybrid cloud strategy and programs. In this Power Panel at 15th Cloud Expo, moderated by Ashar Baig, Research ...
In her General Session at 15th Cloud Expo, Anne Plese, Senior Consultant, Cloud Product Marketing, at Verizon Enterprise, will focus on finding the right mix of renting vs. buying Oracle capacity to scale to meet business demands, and offer validated Oracle database TCO models for Oracle development and testing environments. Anne Plese is a marketing and technology enthusiast/realist with over 19+ years in high tech. At Verizon Enterprise, she focuses on driving growth for the Verizon Cloud pla...
StackIQ offers a comprehensive software suite that automates the deployment, provisioning, and management of Big Infrastructure. With StackIQ’s software, you can spin up fully configured big data clusters, quickly and consistently — from bare-metal up to the applications layer — and manage them efficiently. Our software’s modular architecture allows customers to integrate nearly any application with the StackIQ software stack.
As Platform as a Service (PaaS) matures as a category, developers should have the ability to use the programming language of their choice to build applications and have access to a wide array of services. Bluemix is IBM's open cloud development platform that enables users to easily build cloud-based, creative mobile and web applications without having to spend large amounts of time and resources on configuring infrastructure and multiple software licenses. In this track, you will learn about the...
The Internet of Things will greatly expand the opportunities for data collection and new business models driven off of that data. In her session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Esmeralda Swartz, CMO of MetraTech, will discuss how for this to be effective you not only need to have infrastructure and operational models capable of utilizing this new phenomenon, but increasingly service providers will need to convince a skeptical public to participate. Get ready to show them the money! Speaker Bio: ...
Compute virtualization has been transformational, yet security policy implementation and enforcement has lagged behind in agility and automation. There are a number of key considerations when implementing policy in private and hybrid clouds. In his session at 15th Cloud Expo, Holland Barry, VP of Technology at Catbird, will discuss the impact of this new paradigm and what organizations can do today to safely move to software-defined network and compute architectures, including: How normal ope...
How do APIs and IoT relate? The answer is not as simple as merely adding an API on top of a dumb device, but rather about understanding the architectural patterns for implementing an IoT fabric. There are typically two or three trends: Exposing the device to a management framework Exposing that management framework to a business centric logic • Exposing that business layer and data to end users. This last trend is the IoT stack, which involves a new shift in the separation of what stuff hap...
SYS-CON Events announced today that SOA Software, an API management leader, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 15th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. SOA Software is a leading provider of API Management and SOA Governance products that equip business to deliver APIs and SOA together to drive their company to meet its business strategy quickly and effectively. SOA Software’s technology helps businesses to accel...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Utimaco will exhibit at SYS-CON's 15th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Utimaco is a leading manufacturer of hardware based security solutions that provide the root of trust to keep cryptographic keys safe, secure critical digital infrastructures and protect high value data assets. Only Utimaco delivers a general-purpose hardware security module (HSM) as a customiz...
Almost everyone sees the potential of Internet of Things but how can businesses truly unlock that potential. The key will be in the ability to discover business insight in the midst of an ocean of Big Data generated from billions of embedded devices via Systems of Discover. Businesses will also need to ensure that they can sustain that insight by leveraging the cloud for global reach, scale and elasticity.
SYS-CON Events announced today that ElasticBox is holding a Hackathon at DevOps Summit, November 6 from 12 pm -4 pm at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. You can enter as an individual or team of up to 10 developers. A New Star Is Born Every Month! All completed ElasticBoxes will then be sent to a judging panel - 12 winners will be featured on the ElasticBox website in 2015. All entrants will receive five full enterprise licenses for one year + ElasticBox headphones + Elasti...
Once the decision has been made to move part or all of a workload to the cloud, a methodology for selecting that workload needs to be established. How do you move to the cloud? What does the discovery, assessment and planning look like? What workloads make sense? Which cloud model makes sense for each workload? What are the considerations for how to select the right cloud model? And how does that fit in with the overall IT tranformation? In his session at 15th Cloud Expo, John Hatem, head of V...
Cloud services are the newest tool in the arsenal of IT products in the market today. These cloud services integrate process and tools. In order to use these products effectively, organizations must have a good understanding of themselves and their business requirements. In his session at 15th Cloud Expo, Brian Lewis, Principal Architect at Verizon Cloud, will outline key areas of organizational focus, and how to formalize an actionable plan when migrating applications and internal services to...
SAP is delivering break-through innovation combined with fantastic user experience powered by the market-leading in-memory technology, SAP HANA. In his General Session at 15th Cloud Expo, Thorsten Leiduck, VP ISVs & Digital Commerce, SAP, will discuss how SAP and partners provide cloud and hybrid cloud solutions as well as real-time Big Data offerings that help companies of all sizes and industries run better. SAP launched an application challenge to award the most innovative SAP HANA and SAP ...
Ixia develops amazing products so its customers can connect the world. Ixia helps its customers provide an always-on user experience through fast, secure delivery of dynamic connected technologies and services. Through actionable insights that accelerate and secure application and service delivery, Ixia's customers benefit from faster time to market, optimized application performance and higher-quality deployments.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Calm.io has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of DevOps Summit Silicon Valley, which will take place on November 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Calm.io is a cloud orchestration platform for AWS, vCenter, OpenStack, or bare metal, that runs your CL tools puppet, Chef, shell, git, Jenkins, nagios, and will soon support New Relic and Docker. It can run hosted, or on premise and provides VM automation / expiry, self-service portals,...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Aria Systems, the recurring revenue expert, has been named "Bronze Sponsor" of SYS-CON's 15th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 4-6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Aria Systems helps leading businesses connect their customers with the products and services they love. Industry leaders like Pitney Bowes, Experian, AAA NCNU, VMware, HootSuite and many others choose Aria to power their recurring revenue bu...
The Internet of Things (IoT) is going to require a new way of thinking and of developing software for speed, security and innovation. This requires IT leaders to balance business as usual while anticipating for the next market and technology trends. Cloud provides the right IT asset portfolio to help today’s IT leaders manage the old and prepare for the new. Today the cloud conversation is evolving from private and public to hybrid. This session will provide use cases and insights to reinforce t...
Blue Box has closed a $10 million Series B financing. The round was led by a strategic investor and included participation from prior investors including Voyager Capital and Founders Collective, as well as the Blue Box executive team. This round follows a $4.3 million Series A closed in December of 2012 and led by Voyager Capital. In May of this year, the company announced general availability of its private cloud as a service offering, Blue Box Cloud. Since that release, the company has dem...