As chocolate advent calendar doors are torn open, mulled wine is warmed, and the cold nights draw in, retailers across the UK are focused on capitalising on a rush of customers, ready to stock up for Christmas. Whilst fears that pre-holiday events, like Black Friday, have been a damp squib for high street stores, an explosion of web traffic during this period has demonstrated that Internet shopping is continuing to boom.
Now that the battle for shoppers has been transposed from bricks and mortar stores to the online space, a different challenge has emerged. No longer is the hardest task to replenish stock and fill shelves, instead retailers have to grapple with huge increases in traffic within data centres. It’s vital that retailers have the infrastructure in place for the enormous spikes in traffic around huge events like Christmas.
As little as a few minutes of IT outage could cost retailers tens of thousands of pounds - barely sustainable for the largest of companies, and almost certainly catastrophic for SMEs.
Oh come all ye wearable….
We know that it’s vital to keep web services up and running, but what about the products sold on these heavily populated retail sites? There was a huge rush on tech gifts in 2016 - with smartwatches and other wearable tech making a particularly prolific appearance under last year’s Christmas tree.
With new products from Apple, Garmin and Samsung, wearable devices are now at the heart of just about every discussion related to the Internet of Things (IoT), and the full range of new capabilities pervasive connectivity can bring, make them increasingly popular for consumers over the world. Smart watches and fitness trackers encourage huge volumes of people to get active, counting step by step to their own fitness goals, making personalised recommendations to improve health - and even letting users interact with each other.
These little devices are only useful as the infrastructure behind them - which has to be ready to deal with enormous traffic spikes when everyone opens their gifts on Christmas day - and perhaps the lull when interest wanes into the New Year, and as New Year resolutions fall by the wayside. Static and inflexible data centre facilities simply don’t meet these challenges, which means it's more essential than ever that business put robust scalable technology in place to cope with new demands.
What’s really crucial to the success of a device, or manufacturer, isn’t necessarily the new features and functions of a smart watch or fitness tracker - but is much more fundamental than that - and lies in the data centre. To truly succeed, these companies need a flexible data centre strategy which works through the ups and downs of power and space consumption. Agile and flexible contracts with third party providers can also ensure that companies don’t pay for more storage and space than they need - and it’s vital that tech manufacturers address this need.
So, when we look at the shiny new tech under our Christmas trees this holiday, and beyond that - to how we buy it - and how we then maintain it, keep it secure, and keep it useful - it’s no exaggeration to say that the data centre is a fundamental component of making it all happen. Getting the data centre strategy right means that retailers and device manufacturers alike have an intelligent and scalable asset that enables choice and growth. But - get it wrong and it becomes a fundamental constraint for innovation.