While the majority of Americans spent Thanksgiving weekend eating turkey, watching football and buying holiday presents, the Curalate team was busy making sure our software would perform at peak levels during the busiest time of year for online shopping.
We partner with 850 of the world’s most recognized brands and know that our system sees a major spike in traffic during the five days between Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday. Experiencing any type of technical glitch was out of the question.
“We are critical infrastructure for an increasingly large number of our clients — and critical infrastructure cannot fail. It’s non-negotiable — and we held up our end of that bargain,” said Nick Shiftan, Curalate’s Chief Technology Officer.
During the five-day period, Curalate served up 850 million impressions, and kept latency between 15-25 milliseconds, all with 100% uptime. Whether our actionable imagery was loaded via Like2Buy, Fanreel or Reveal, speeds remained lightning fast for our clients and their consumers.
Preparation for the Black Five-Day rush started well before November. Here are five ways the Curalate software engineers prepared:
1. Forecasting the traffic rush. We examined minute-by-minute data for the 2015 Black Five-Day period to identify the largest traffic spikes. Then we examined non-holiday traffic for 2015 vs. 2016 to understand just how high our baseline traffic had grown (For example: how many more requests are we serving up on an average Monday this year compared to last year?) Using those two data points, we were able to predict — very accurately — that we’d see approximately 250,000 impressions per minute at the peak of Cyber Monday.
2. Test and test and test. Although we predicted our traffic load, we tested for DOUBLE that amount of traffic. Then we retested and retested again. “That gave us the confidence that there weren’t any weak links, no single point of failure and nothing that would strain capacity,” said Shiftan.
3. Audit. For each major component of our infrastructure, we worked through a checklist covering everything that could possibly impede our ability to scale to Black Five-Day traffic. It was slow and methodical but necessary. We weren’t taking any chances.
4. Lock it down. At Curalate, we’re constantly innovating — introducing new products like Explore and Tilt while also making small iterations to our dashboard that make workflow easier. But from November 21-30, we locked down our code completely so we could identify any potential soft spots in our software. “We don’t want to ship new code during the holidays. We want to make sure our software is as stable as possible,” said Shiftan. “We did this for our clients. This is the busiest five days of the year for them, and it’s the one time of the year when they don’t want to see new features or improvements.”
5. Be on call. In case there were any unforeseen problems or issues, our talented software engineers took turns being on-call during the holiday weekend. We always had one on-call engineer on the East Coast and one on the West Coast. The result was phenomenal, as speeds remained incredibly fast, latency remained low and uptime was perfect.
“We know that those five days put a load on our system that we’ll never get the rest of the year. We can’t wait until Black Friday to find out if we can handle that many requests per second,” said Shiftan. “Our extensive preparation made us very confident that we could weather the storm — and we passed this test with flying colors.”
Curalate powers consumer discovery for the world’s smartest brands — turning pics and videos into portable, actionable content assets. It enables consumers to purchase your products wherever they discover your brand — social, ads, blogs or anywhere else. Get a demo now and learn how we can increase average order value, return on ad spend and unique site visitors.
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