High Availability - a factor to watch out for in your platform selection

High Availability

Online consumers do not adhere to closing times. They always want to have access to their favorite web shops and platforms. That is why the availability of your platform is essential in order not to miss out on customers. In Ecommerce jargon we speak of High Availability. That means a little more than high availability. With High Availability (in short: HA), tech suppliers indicate a system that offers guarantees for the highest possible availability.

That 'system' is the combination of the platform you use, the hosting services you rely on and the technical infrastructure under your operational Ecommerce business. If you see the traffic to your website or webshop increase, which is not inconceivable in this corona time, you better be assured that your customers, prospects and business relations have 24/7 access to your systems. Otherwise you will lose them quickly.

What is High Availability?

High Availability is a performance story. Because the essence is that you are always and everywhere available to your target group, also via mobile devices. Downtime can be disastrous. After all, the online consumer is so spoiled that he or she really will not wait until you are 'open' again, unless you have something very rare to sell. Opening hours are a bit from the past. They belong to the brick retail era, not to the new reality of online shopping and shopping. In it, no one accepts a closed door.

Incidentally, one hundred percent availability (uptime) is an illusion. There are always times when your platform needs to get off the air. Because maintenance is necessary, for example. Or because software updates have to be performed, whereby a reboot unavoidable. However, this necessary downtime can be planned. If done correctly, the impact on your sales and customer loyalty is minimal. The use of data helps with this. After all, web analytics show exactly the peaks and troughs in traffic to your Ecommerce platform. By carrying out maintenance and updates during off-peak hours, your customers will notice little or nothing.

In other words, High Availability is not about one hundred percent availability, but about the highest possible percentage and the predictability of the necessary moments when you are down. As mentioned, the platform you use and your technical infrastructure play an important role in this, but the hosting you choose is also vital. Serious hosting and / or cloud providers are transparent about this. With the claim High Availability, you should therefore consider a guarantee of a very high uptime percentage. In other words: an uptime percentage of at least 99.9 percent. The more nines after the decimal point, the better. If you want to be completely sure of your case, have the availability promise recorded in an SLA, a Service Level Agreement.

When and why is High Availability relevant

When is that advisable? If you operate a webshop or platform and you know that unexpected access problems can lead to loss of turnover or reputation, firm agreements are definitely recommended. Even if access to your infrastructure is essential for the operational processes within your organization, it is wise to look closely at the availability performance. But keep in mind that there is always a price tag attached to guarantees. So the benefit of High Availability must outweigh the risk of downtime.

But don't take that too lightly! Unplanned downtime during 'online shopping hours' that your target audience is counting on means in any case: no sales, no leads, no user transactions, no advertising income. That is fairly easy to map out. But it is not that simple to measure the collateral damage. Research into the influence of web performance on the success of your Ecommerce business shows that just under ten percent of your visitors do not return once they stand in front of a closed door. This means that you see one in ten sales opportunities pass you by. Moreover, the unavailability of your website is bad for your ranking. Because the robots of search engines also see that your technology is down.

Analyze and optimize

If you dig a little deeper into the matter, you come across one important principle, namely: analyzing and optimizing all single points of failure. This means that you clarify in every layer of your infrastructure where failures can occur and ensure that the failure of one component does not immediately bring down your entire system. Techniques that help with this include connecting servers (server clustering) to have an accurate backup in all situations, and the application of a so-called load balancer which distributes the traffic in peak situations across the different servers.

Aside from the techniques that contribute to High Availability, we are in one personal interview with pleasure, longer, the most important thing is that you are aware of the importance of optimal availability. As mentioned, the online consumer is spoiled. The chance that you will lose him or her permanently when the door is closed is considerable. In addition, downtime is at the expense of your ranking. So: include the High Availability story in the selection of your platform and provider, even if you have a replatforming process takes effect.