StarBase Blog


Black-Cloud Friday

Today’s headlines of police being called to keep the peace at Black Friday sales show that consumers will fight-in-the-aisles for perceived bargains. Online it may be more civilised, without the physical bruises, but the large number of retail websites that either failed under the load, or had to limit access to their web and mobile stores, demonstrates that consumers are creating a peak in demand higher than ever.

My colleague, Chris Bibb, has written a personal take on Black Friday.

Black Friday Shows The Cloud Can’t Do Everything

Online Retailers have been looking to the cloud, with its promises of elastic-scalability and pay-as-you-consume pricing, as a cure all for their online scalability problems. Their belief being the cloud will meet whatever demands their customers place on them.


Tesco’s website crashes with Black Friday traffic

This is wrong for two reasons:

  1. No matter how clever the Cloud is, it is still technology, and the events of Black Friday have shown that all technology has limitations. Leading up to Black Friday, the dominant Amazon Web Services (AWS) had a ‘wobble’ reportedly making its customers’ sites hard to access, and Microsoft’s cloud offering, Azure, has had several recently reported failures.
  2. Inefficient code and poorly engineered solutions are not cured in the Cloud, therefore scalability is at the cost of excessive resource consumption. Yes, the Cloud may support your peak in demand, but how much are you being charged, not just for this peak, but 24/7?

Angela Eager’s article on TechMarketView titled ‘A ‘Black’ Friday for online retail?’ gives more food for thought.

Don’t get me wrong, I am an advocate of the Cloud, but my second point above highlights why I have major concerns over business utilising the infinite scalability of the Cloud.

I have long voiced the opinion that the Cloud should be regarded the same as any other utility an organisation uses. I am dismayed that companies that fit power-saving light bulbs and smart power switches to reduce electricity consumption will blindly allow inefficient applications run in the Cloud.

Black-Cloud Friday should teach us two things: firstly there is a new and daunting annual peak to consider for Online Retail and, secondly, a Cloud strategy relying on elastic-scalability should never replace performance engineering and testing in a cost-conscious business.

No time for Online Retailers to rest – Cyber Monday is next!


Alan Moulsdale, Technical Director, StarBase

Posted by:alan
Technical Director, StarBase
Alan has worked for StarBase since 1997. He now has responsibility for identifying and formulating new products, services and solutions; and for evangelising StarBase’s solutions to existing and prospective clients. Alan architected StarBase’s Performance Testing Methodology. In addition to this being the foundation of many successful StarBase client projects, elements have also been adopted by blue chip organisations including companies in the financial sector and leading system integration specialists.

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