How Relational Databases Could Ruin Christmas

How Relational Databases Could Ruin Christmas

As you know, a bad user experience on Cyber Monday can cause users to abandon an eCommerce site faster than during non-seasonal online shopping, resulting in massive revenue loss. The average revenue loss of just few hours shutdown during Cyber Monday can impact company yearly revenue by 10-15%.


With coupons scattered across the internet and increased overall demand on Cyber Monday, eCommerce websites have to automatically adapt and expand with such fluctuating customer’s behavior. Usually there is limited amount of products that have a special price during this sales period. The first ones that will manage to access the website will get the best deal.


Because most relational databases systems keep data in tables, there is a lock placed on inventory table raw that is in the process of updating. With typical average eCommerce website traffic, this isn’t an issue – but with too many requests at the same time, retail systems can face slow-downs or even a lack of ability to manage the requests due to this table lock behavior. On days like Cyber Monday, sudden, intensive loads create a situation where retailers’ traditional central database systems are burdened by a large number of simultaneous lock requests for the same inventory table raw (this is done in order to update the data with user activities).  This burden causes a delay in the backend database response time.  In some cases, such a load can bring down the database system and shut down the entire eCommerce system, preventing users from performing any transactions for several hours!


A redesign of inventory management offers, reservations, fulfillment, personalization, pricing and promotional components of eCommerce systems is needed to ensure website survival on Cyber-Monday. The system of record must be elastic , blazing fast, cannot rely on a database or any disk based storage medium, must be highly-available across multiple data centers or cloud environments and provide enterprise level security.


The GigaSpaces XAP in-memory compute product has been the system of record for many leading eCommerce systems around the world, delivering low-latency response time even on massive peak load. The legacy enterprise database is not part of the transaction path, which ensures ability to cope with millions of transactions per minute leveraging commodity inexpensive hardware.


GigaSpaces XAP integrates with leading eCommerce platforms such as Oracle ATG and IBM Portal/eCommerce platforms, allowing users to leverage their investment with the existing eCommerce platform. XAP can be easily integrated with these systems as a reliable and fast system of record that can deliver peace of mind to the IT and the retail executives during the peak load of Cyber Monday. This integration immediately delivers ROI and shorten the time to market when the eCommerce implementation is enhanced to support new products, offers or promotions.


Fortune 200 retailer eCommerce system achieves 70% revenue growth with GigaSpaces XAP




For several years, this top retailer’s eCommerce website could not handle the exponential increase in traffic, slowing down the site response time dramatically at some points, and shutting it down altogether at another. Social marketing promotions and online coupons increased amount of simultaneous user sessions and catalog access caused resource contention and total system shutdown of the eCommerce system. This resulted in a multi-million financial loss of revenue during Cyber Monday.


Solution & results


After analyzing the problem, this top retailer integrated GigaSpaces XAP In-Memory Computing solution with its eCommerce system to manage all catalog, offers, promotions, and pricing data using a distributed, transactional data grid. This simple enhancement to the existing eCommerce system improved the overall performance and eliminated the database as a bottleneck for any eCommerce transactions. This new architecture delivers continuous improvements to supports 30% annual growth with the system capacity and 70% revenue growth for Cyber Monday. The eCommerce system now has significantly higher performance — Web performance increased by 500%.  The system is also now able to streamline and scale available inventory process, dynamic pricing, promotions processing and business analytics. This was all possible with less hardware infrastructure; the hardware required for Cyber Monday was reduced by 50%.


Businesses need to think about traffic timing differently on one of the busiest days of the year. This is just one solution to a behind-the-scenes problem that should be addressed.

Shay Hassidim


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