The “power” behind holiday shopping


Many of us think of the holiday season as a time when vacations and office parties take over and productivity takes a nosedive.

If your business is retail though, it’s a completely different story. The Christmas season is a make-or-break opportunity for many retailers, and increasingly that shopping is done online rather than through brick-and-mortar stores.

Having spent most of my career in retail I find this to be the most exciting time of year. I was thrilled to read about soaring cyber Monday sales in late November and all of the online shopping records that were being broken.  According to IBM’s Smarter Commerce initiative, holiday shoppers turned Cyber Monday 2012 into the biggest ecommerce spending day ever in the United States, with online sales growing 30.3 percent over the same period last year.

When you look a little deeper you will notice that all of this activity had a clearly defined peak at 11:25am EST. That means a big spike in demand on all of the servers supporting online retailers. Unsurprisingly, this has led in past years to reports of major data center outages and performance slowdowns during the holiday shopping season, which leads to lower sales and frustrated customers.

This year, it’s been all good news so far. It seems that retailers are better prepared than in years past and have plenty of excess capacity on hand to deal with this seasonal variation.

What does this have to do with electricity?

So here we are: it’s the busiest time of year for online shopping in many countries, and the server infrastructure that supports it is humming along, drawing power and generating heat with top revenue dollars to justify the expense.

But here are two critical questions to think about while retailers are pulling in all of those sales:

  1. What was all this infrastructure doing last month when the revenue wasn’t there to match the cost?
  2. What will this infrastructure be doing in January and for the rest of the year, when the holiday shoppers retreat?

The answer to both of those questions, of course, is the same.

Data centers that support online shopping are designed to meet peak loads at all costs. When demand is low, however, most servers are left running at full capacity leading to huge amounts of wasted energy and large bills for those paying for that energy. Up until now, they had no way to confidently and intelligently power down their servers until the next big shopping event comes along.

Our application-aware power management software changes all of that. It’s all about power when you need it, savings when you don’t, and more accurate capacity planning 24/7/365.

This way, online retailers can meet the demands of variable workloads, while protecting sales and ensuring customers are not affected.

Happy holidays everyone. We look forward to connecting with you in the New Year.

Aaron Rallo
CEO and Founder of TSO Logic

Aaron has spent the last 15 years building and managing large-scale transactional solutions for online retailers, with both hands-on and C-level responsibility in data centers around the world. He’s a graduate of Stanford University’s AEA program, and he holds a computer science degree from the Rochester Institute of Technology. A native of New York, he’s now based in Vancouver, British Columbia.

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