Scaling up your servers for Christmas

Ecommerce is set to take centre stage once again this Christmas, with 44 per cent of UK consumers planning to do the same level of online shopping as they did when stores were closed in 2020.

Scaling up your servers for Christmas

Sam Clarke, Senior Product Manager for Server & Cloud at Fasthosts, explains why it’s important for small businesses to turn up their tech for Christmas without parting with precious resources in times of lower demand, and highlights how cloud hosting may provide the perfect solution.  

Ecommerce is set to take centre stage once again this Christmas, with 44 per cent of UK consumers planning to do the same level of online shopping as they did when stores were closed in 2020. In order to capitalise on Christmas demand, small businesses may need to scale up their IT infrastructure to cope. 

The catch? Making sure you find a server that works when you wish to scale back down again. In order to meet demand without wasting precious resources, cloud hosting may be the solution. 

Capacity is key 

When someone visits a site, the user’s browser sends a request to the corresponding server on which the website is hosted. The server then transmits the correct information, serving up the website to the user as required. To capture increased virtual footfall, this process must work as well at its peak as it does in quieter months.

Increased visitors are already likely during the festive period, but if a product happens to be mentioned on a blog or on social media, or you’re running a promotion, this could be infinitely exaggerated. If visitors keep coming, your server may not be able to handle the sheer number of requests and the results can range from a sluggish site to a full blown crash.

In ecommerce every second counts. Data shows that 53 per cent of mobile site visits are abandoned if a page takes longer than three seconds to load. If a website crashes this is a lot worse. Therefore, in order to handle this peak and retain sales, your server needs ample bandwidth and resource allocation to serve up your site to every visitor that requests it.  

Always on isn’t the answer 

The need for capacity should not, however, be a justification for wastage. If you operated your tech to handle a high level of demand all year round, the likelihood is that huge volumes of resources would be wasted in quieter months. For your business, wastage may mean unnecessary cost. For the wider world, wastage can result in a greater environmental impact. 

It’s estimated that data centres are responsible for one percent of all electricity consumed worldwide. Putting this into context, the related CO2 emissions are equal to those of the pre-pandemic commercial airline industry. Idle server capacity consumes substantial energy and as such when not being used, it unnecessarily contributes to this high level of consumption. 

Therefore, while it’s important to be able to scale up your tech, it’s just as important to be able to scale it down once the spikes in demand have surpassed. 

Consider your server 

There are a number of options out there when choosing how to host your website. Dedicated servers and virtual private servers (VPS) host your site on a single machine, so if you’d like more resource, you need to upgrade the space your data occupies. In the cloud, however, your data is spread across multiple, interconnected machines that may be in a variety of locations. 

The cloud allows you to virtually ring fence your resources in the same way as a physical server, offering high levels of security and control. However, as it does not occupy physical space in the same way, you can scale up and down your capacity by the minute, paying only for the resources you actually use and avoiding the overuse of ideal computing power, making it a great option for small businesses with varying levels of demand. 

Yet, even with cloud hosting it’s impossible to completely avoid a carbon footprint. Despite the virtual environment, the data is still being held on physical machines within data centres. Therefore, in order to continue reducing the environmental impact of your website, ensure your chosen provider hosts your site in data centres powered by renewable energy. 

It’s clear that server capacity is a balancing act. In order to best serve all needs, the cloud can offer a number of advantages, however, finding a server perfect for your businesses shouldn’t be a rushed decision. Consider your peaks, your troughs, your budget and your environmental impact before settling. Remember servers need to work all year, not just for Christmas. 

their customers, or an established business that wants to move their operation to the cloud. From email and domains to dedicated servers and a flexible cloud platform, we cover all bases ‘ and tie them all together into one control panel, just to make it even easier. We’re based in the UK alongside our secure data centres. We know the UK market, and our dedicated support teams apply that knowledge to give our customers the best advice, 24 hours a day. With over 20 years of experience, we know what we’re doing, but we’re always looking to reach new heights with both our customers, and the partners in our partner programme.

Sam Clarke
Sam Clarke

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