As Mobile Shopping Surges, Response Times Suffer

Third-party Services Hurt Performance

There was no single major outage that sent people into a Twitter rage this year, according to application performance management provider Compuware APM. “One of the things we’re finding is that it is, a much quieter year in a traditional sense,” said Stephen Pierzchala, Technology Strategist for Compuware APM. “Not a lot of outages, not a lot of issues from a performance perspective.”

The big issue this year was performance problems arising from 3rd party services such as analytics, ads, and help-desk services designed to support visitors. “These sites might have not been as prepared,” said Pierzchala, who said he believes that “third parties don’t load test the volume for the amount of traffic that all of their customers have on their busiest day.”

The company did note the shift to mobile this year. While Cyber Monday was desktop and laptop oriented, there was an unprecedented surge in mobile device usage on Thanksgiving. “The shopping window is definitely shifting back, occurring earlier and earlier each year, but companies seem to be really prepared, said Pierzchala. “The message of mobile is starting to get through to many sites. Most of the retail sites have tablet and/or mobile sites.”

There was lots of growth in terms of tablet usage. Significantly, CompuWare found that it involved purchases, not just people browsing. “These are devices of convenience,” says Pierzchala, “If there was a deal, people would buy it right there. It’s a reality now.”

Compuware saw only one major online retailer had an outage (from 11:30 p.m. to 1:40 a.m. EST on Black Friday) prompted by a timeout issue with their shopping cart.

How Much Traffic Was It?

Content delivery network Akamai saw record peaks compared to past years. Payment processor Chase saw a significant shift and growth to e-commerce for its processed transactions. Compuware APM saw an increase in couch commerce, with tablet adoption fueling the growth, and a desktop and laptop-oriented record Cyber Monday. Keynote saw record traffic, with mobile performance significantly worse than desktop.

While overall, the load was handled very well this year with no major outages to report, the story this year is the surge in mobile usage, and the complications this brings in terms of performance. It has become a reality: people are using smartphones and tablets for much more than browsing. Going forward, retailers need to adjust their plans, their infrastructure, and their partnerships to the mobile experience.

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About the Author

Jason Verge is an Editor/Industry Analyst on the Data Center Knowledge team with a strong background in the data center and Web hosting industries. In the past he’s covered all things Internet Infrastructure, including cloud (IaaS, PaaS and SaaS), mass market hosting, managed hosting, enterprise IT spending trends and M&A. He writes about a range of topics at DCK, with an emphasis on cloud hosting.

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