Black Friday & The Illusion of Availability
Test and Monitor | Posted November 16, 2017

It’s almost the biggest shopping season of the year, and you better believe your online performance has got to be stellar. This year, Inc. predicts that U.S. e-commerce sales on Black Friday will generate more online sales this year than Cyber Monday, with estimations jumping to a 5.39% increase in spend from 2016. That’s almost $3.52 billion in online sales – just on Black Friday.

Capturing a share of the $3.52 billion is dependent on your website, application, and API performance. Like a machine, each gear of your digital assets has to be operating flawlessly and collaboratively. If one deviates, the system performance will degrade and ultimately stop working. On a day like Black Friday or Cyber Monday, most companies worry about load testing, which is completely valid. But it’s also the most obvious of the issues you may run into on Thanksgiving weekend. We’re here to lift the veil on a more inconspicuous problem – the illusion of availability.

Imagine, you've settled in for the graveyard shift in the operation center on Thanksgiving (you’re a trooper!).  Your company has invested in a synthetic performance monitoring tool, and in preparation for this weekend, you’ve dedicated the past two months to creating test scripts for each monitor. All the synthetic performance monitors show green, and it looks like it will be a relatively quiet night. Now it’s 2:20AM EST, and you’re getting multiple calls from the Austrian and Indonesian office saying they haven’t been able to use the digital payment platform for 20 minutes. Where are your alerts? The dashboard and the application monitors show 100% availability, even from locations overseas.

What. Is. Going. On. ?!

Well, the digital payment monitor was only looking at the ability to log in. It was not monitoring the critical transfer flow, or the underlying API that supported it, which was down. With all monitors and dashboards reflecting a good state, why would you doubt it?

Unfortunately, not all synthetic monitoring tools are equal in their support of creating monitors that check for functional correctness. Synthetic monitoring is great for proactively gleaning insight into the health of your applications, but only when the tool is reflective of your critical user journeys and transactions. When choosing (and using) a synthetic monitoring tool, it is vital to have:

In this scenario, any transactions attempted during this outage would be lost- on one of the busiest online shopping days of the year. The illusion of availability is in many ways more dangerous than a false alert.  Making sure you’re monitoring every important gear in the machine, and making sure that the warning systems in place reflect the metrics, thresholds, and standards you value is key in knowing about issues before your users encounter them. Synthetic monitoring tools act as an incredibly proactive way to identify performance degradation and availability issues, when you choose the right tool.

Luckily, we offer a tool that seamlessly adapts to your processes and empowers you to get up and running, and to stay running, in no time. Try AlertSite for free for 30 days – just in time.

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