How swiss.blackfriday Handled a Huge Load Peak with Hidora Cloud

swiss.blackfriday case study

Black Friday is coming soon. Is your website ready for it? Last year we published a case study of swiss.blackfriday – Swiss aggregator of Black Friday offerings. Let’s remember how 300K visit spike was absorbed without reducing response time.

About

The swiss.blackfriday website is an aggregator of promotions exclusively built to sell Black Friday offerings: best online discount deals for more than 200 brands, including all kinds of e-shops, from small ones to market giants like Manor, Globus, Apple, HP, Zara and even Mediamarkt.

Challenge

Black Friday continues to gain momentum in Switzerland. But an experience in 2016 has shown that lots of e-commerce stores realized that their websites are not able to handle the wave of traffic during this event.

So for swiss.blackfriday, the task was even harder: how to handle traffic spikes when you sell more than 200 brands in a single day and even can’t estimate the potential load? To evaluate the potential wave of users and the amount of resources you need in order to have continuous uptime is not an easy task. In this case, servers should be carefully chosen.

How to solve this dilemma: to opt for a low power server to save money or choose several powerful servers to be sure that the load during this crucial event won’t bring the website down?

Choosing one server can save money, but meanwhile, compromise the website availability at the worst possible time. Opting for several servers will help to cope with peak loads. But under-utilization of the servers during the rest of the year will lead to unnecessary expenditure.

The main question of swiss.blackfriday Team was how to manage the wave of consumers at this critical event and not to overpay for servers.

What goals were they trying to achieve? 

To avoid a bad user experience caused by downtime for 300k visitors during the sales day. To prove themselves to be a reliable e-commerce hub that is always available no matter how many users visit their site.

How did Hidora’s scalable solution help? 

Let’s see how swiss.blackfriday used Hidora to handle a large number of one-time users. Organizers have created a highly-available cloud environment to run their website based on WordPress using Hidora.

This environment includes two load balancers, two databases, and at least two WordPress application servers sharing the same storage space.

Hidora Cloud Platform distributes all these components across different physical hosts to guarantee high availability. In addition, MySQL database was automatically replicated, so it saved days of configuration and testing.

In the case of traffic spikes, the Hidora platform can automatically scale up existing WordPress instances or even add new nodes (horizontal scaling). Vice versa clusters can be scaled down and shrunk when the load decreases.

As you can see, Hidora Cloud provides a perfect solution for e-commerce websites with very variable load. Moreover, in contrast to the Amazon Cloud, Hidora stores your data in Switzerland, it does so according to Swiss legislation, which provides you with an exceptional level of security.

Results

We have interviewed the swiss.blackfriday team after sales day and learnt about the experience they had with Hidora Cloud Platform: 300K visit spike was absorbed without reducing response time.

How did WordPress handle spikes?

During the sales day of Black Friday 2017, we’ve received a huge spike of 300K visits including organic and paid sources from all over Switzerland. We had a lot of front and back office activity at this time and the infrastructure coped without any trouble, the spikes were absorbed without reducing response time.

How did auto-scaling work (both vertical and horizontal)?

The challenge of Black Friday was to publish as fast as possible new content and deals on our multi-language system and keep all the information up to date. With the auto-scaling system, we had to have a very low response time without discrepancies between versions, and the Hidora System worked perfectly this way.

How has your production performance changed?

Before setting up the Hidora System we had a very simple infrastructure with production on a single server. This situation was the same with development.
With the Hidora solution, we managed to deploy new releases in a limited time without any issues.

How did your Hosting bill change with Hidora? Has it reduced?

We’ve reduced by 30% our infrastructure cost as Hidora offers a pay as you use pricing structure. So we do not need to guess how many resources to buy beforehand, we just pay for what we consume. That is one of the best things about Hidora.

How do you feel about not doing DevOps anymore?

We think it’s great news! We are publishers and we need to focus on Content, not IT. With the DevOps team at Hidora, they know our project and the challenges we face, and they are very reactive with limited cost.

We don’t need to hire developers with system administration knowledge because Hidora replaces this need.

Has Hidora solved your downtime issue?

The Black Friday operation does not allow downtime as everything is concentrated into one day. The Hidora solution helped us to face the main potential issue of downtime during the event day.

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