Keep Your Customers–and Your Website–out of the Doghouse on Valentine’s Day!

This Valentine’s Day singles don’t need to sulk–they can still take advantage of the crazy flash sales! The trouble comes for those who do have a Valentine, and wait ’til the last minute to order a thoughtful gift, only to to be met with “THE ITEM YOU ADDED TO YOUR CART IS OUT OF STOCK”…or an excruciatingly sluggish checkout. This creates an opportunity and challenge for online retailers. Few things create greater stress than feeling like your love life is on the line, so the absolute best gift retailers can give anxious customers is a site that performs with lightning speed and accuracy. They’ll love you for it, and you’ll love yourself, because you’ll be able to forget about website problems and focus on running a great store. And, who knows? If a competitor’s site acts up, you may even be able to grab some of their customers. As the saying goes, all’s fair in love and war.

Here’s the V-day lesson: you’ve got to be just as concerned with your relationship with your customer as your customer is about their significant other. By getting ahead of website problems, you can put your focus where it belongs–the customer. Here’s how you do it:

Eliminate website problems with a database designed for high-transaction sites

Sometimes performance issues are rooted in the front-end e-commerce application. Once that’s ruled out, it’s most likely the database that powers your platform. When thousands of desperate husbands, boyfriends etc. start trying to buy flowers and teddy bears at the same time, this is going to take MySQL databases–which power most e-commerce sites–to their limit. Customers will start experiencing delays, disappearing items, etc. If they can get the same thing somewhere else, they will: faced with either going to the doghouse, or sending your site to the doghouse, your site will lose.

Fortunately, ClustrixDB is a drop-in replacement for MySQL that can handle such scenarios, as it is built specifically for high transaction e-commerce sites. Even as the number of transactions soars, Clustrix delivers superior performance, ease of use, and costs. Trading MySQL for ClustrixDB means spending less time thinking about database tools, and more time thinking about how you can guide your customer to the right purchase for that special someone.

Think of your server as a box of chocolates…

The hardware, or server, that your database runs on is like a box of chocolates–once you eat them you’ve got to buy another box. MySQL databases (and even higher performing MySQL replacements) are typically built to run on a “box” or single piece of hardware, and once you’re at capacity, you have to transfer your application to a bigger box to increase performance.

Unfortunately there isn’t always a bigger box available. Even if you’re running AWS Aurora, you’ll essentially hit your limit with a 32-core node. This may give you enough breathing room for normal circumstances, but it won’t help you if hit with the kind of heavy traffic that, for example, China retailers recently saw on Singles Day–$3B above projections!

Beyond holiday surges, however, the fact is that your database won’t grow with your business–it’s a relationship destined for turbulence. Once you’ve maxed out the biggest box, the only way to scale is by performing what we call “unnatural” feats such as sharding and using read slaves–tactics as unpleasant as their names would suggest. To put it in romance parlance, such methods will allow you to scale, but they’ll wreak havoc on your applications, adding layer upon layer of complexity (not good for romance or software). Like a mistreated lover, your applications–and your DBAs–will never forgive you if you force them to deal with sharding or read slaves.

ClustrixDB: The Gift that Keeps on Giving

What if you had a box of chocolates that, when it started to run out, you could simply refill on demand? Admittedly, the candy industry has yet to invent such a thing. But, believe it or not, in the database world, we’ve done it. ClustrixDB allows you to easily increase the performance by adding nodes/instances–you don’t need to move to a bigger box.

So if you anticipate a website problems on February 13th, all you have to do is click the mouse a few times and add the needed capacity. Even better, when it’s over, you can just as easily remove nodes, so that you’re not paying for capacity you don’t need. This kind of “scale-out” expansion–which has long been used with web applications and web servers–has been unavailable to MySQL-derived databases. But now that you can do it with ClustrixDB, getting your site ready for Valentine’s Day is easy. There’s no reason for you, or your customer, to spend February 14th in the dog house!