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Prioritizing Web Performance | @Catchpoint @CloudExpo #WebPerf #DevOps

In Sum: Performance as the Ultimate Arbiter in the Marketing/DevOps Disconnect

Prioritizing Web Performance as a Crucial Element of the Marketing Mix

The annual holiday shopping season, which starts on Thanksgiving weekend and runs through the end of December, is undoubtedly the most crucial time of the year for many eCommerce websites, with sales from this period having a dramatic effect on the year-end bottom line.

Web performance - or, the overall speed and availability of a website or mobile site - is an issue year-round, but it takes on increased importance during the holidays. Ironically, it is at this time of year that networks and infrastructure come under the most strain from traffic and are more vulnerable than ever to performance degradations. Yet busy, hurried holiday shoppers expect better performance than ever, and the stakes for lost conversions are frighteningly high. When customers encounter long load times, they're likely to abandon their current shopping destination and move on to a competitor's site that is performing better, sending potential revenue out the door. What's worse, studies have shown that if a site freezes or crashes, is too slow, or involves an overly complicated checkout process, 75 percent of shoppers will no longer buy from that site.

Given this, it becomes crucial to optimize the content on your site during peak business periods; strip it down to the essentials and eliminate as many risks as possible (i.e., any elements on the page that can cause your site to slow down or become unavailable). This is especially true for mobile sites, which have become more and more prominent in the realm of online shopping, and typically have far more network limitations than desktop sites. In fact, both Amazon and Walmart reported that more than half of their traffic during this year's Thanksgiving weekend came from mobile devices.

With that in mind, let's take a look at how some of the web's top retailers performed during this crucial time.

2014 Holiday Shopping Results
After monitoring the desktop and mobile versions of 50 of the top retail sites throughout the holiday season, Catchpoint found that many sites actually showed slower performance than the previous year due to pages that were heavier with data. Specifically, desktop eCommerce sites were 25 percent heavier on average than the year before, and mobile sites were nearly twice as heavy. As a result, the median webpage load time went up from 2.03 to 2.43 seconds on desktop, and from 1.33 to 2.17 seconds on mobile.

It's worth noting that despite the increased load times, most sites were still in the two-second range, which is considered ‘acceptable' performance. This shows that DevOps optimization techniques were applied and able to counteract the negative affects that can come from data-heavy pages. Still, there is plenty of room for improvement with sites that lay in the upper ranges of the spectrum. Moreover, several sites experienced significant outages throughout the crucial Thanksgiving weekend, when Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals led to the two biggest days of eCommerce in U.S. history.

Lessons to Learn from the Holiday Season
In order to avoid some of the most common pitfalls, DevOps teams should focus on aspects of their sites over which they have direct control. Despite our best efforts, a scary amount of our sites' fate is dependent on factors outside of our control (consumer ISP speeds and browser limitations, for example). This means paying attention to things that can help you prepare for traffic surges, including:

  • Capacity Testing
  • Page Design
  • Third Parties

Capacity testing is arguably the most important aspect of preparing for a high traffic period, as the increased strain on your servers can cause your site to crash completely. There are several steps that go into this process, including non-functional testing load and stress tests, plus ensuring the site's functionality. One way to ease the load on your servers is to offload some of the traffic to a CDN such as EdgeCast or Fastly, which can have the added bonus of speeding up your pages as well.

The design of a page can also have a significant impact on how it performs for users, particularly on mobile sites. Many retailers choose to devote resources towards creating a completely separate mobile site on a different URL, but those that don't should be choosing between responsive and adaptive web design, each of which has positives and negatives as far as development and performance is concerned. Adaptive sites tend to offer faster load times than responsive sites on mobile browsers, but can be more difficult to implement.

Third parties can often be labeled as what we call ‘Single Points of Failure,' meaning that if they do not render properly, they can bring down the entire site or cause it to load slowly. Therefore, eCommerce sites should always host as few third parties as possible, especially on mobile. Bear in mind that many third-party features, like social plug-ins or video, are not likely to be accessed by mobile users on the go; therefore, there's no need to include them on a mobile site. When third-party services are deployed on a site, one way to mitigate potential performance risks is by using a tag management system such as Google Tag Manager, Tealium, or Signal, which load the third-party tags asynchronously and allow for quick removal of them if they encounter any problems.

In Sum: Performance as the Ultimate Arbiter in the Marketing/DevOps Disconnect
It is on this particular subject that a company's DevOps team is often at odds with the marketing department. Often, marketers want to place ads, tracking tags, and other third party content on the site in order to maximize revenue by increasing the site's visibility. However, adding this site content can have the inadvertent effect of dragging down site performance, which can ultimately hamper marketing initiatives instead of helping them.

In the end, tying performance to business metrics is the easiest way to bring DevOps and marketing teams onto the same page, reconciling two seemingly diametrically opposed sides. By taking performance of the site into consideration when deciding to place ads and other third parties on it, marketing teams can make an informed decision as to whether they are really worth it, and thus avoid pushback from the DevOps team that ultimately wants to keep things as fast and efficient as possible. If a marketing team knows, for example, that adding a certain piece of content will slow site response time by one or two seconds - and erode site traffic and conversions by a certain percentage as a result - they may decide that the added content is not worth it.

Web performance should be seen as a business differentiator, and therefore an integral part of the marketing agenda. You may have heard of the four Ps of the marketing mix (product, price, place, and promotion). Performance is now the fifth P; it's a potential business differentiator and deserves the correct level of attention.

@ThingsExpo - The World's Largest 'Internet of Things' Event, June 7-9 2016 at New York City's Javits Center!

All major researchers estimate there will be tens of billions devices - computers, smartphones, tablets, and sensors - connected to the Internet by 2020. This number will continue to grow at a rapid pace for the next several decades.

@CloudExpo / @ThingsExpo 2016 New York 
(June 7-9, 2016, Javits Center, Manhattan)

@CloudExpo / @ThingsExpo 2016 Silicon Valley
(November 1-3, 2016, Santa Clara Convention Center, CA)

With major technology companies and startups seriously embracing IoT strategies, now is the perfect time to attend @ThingsExpo, June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City. Learn what is going on, contribute to the discussions, and ensure that your enterprise is as "IoT-Ready" as it can be.

Register for @CloudExpo/@ThingsExpo 'FREE' Before Friday! ▸ Here

Delegates to @ThingsExpo will be able to attend 14 simultaneous, information-packed education tracks.

There are over 120 breakout sessions in all, with Keynotes, General Sessions, and Power Panels adding to three days of incredibly rich presentations and content.

Join @ThingsExpo conference chair Roger Strukhoff (@IoT2040), June 7-9, 2016 in New York City, for three days of intense 'Internet of Things' discussion and focus, including Big Data's indespensable role in IoT, Smart Grids and Industrial Internet of Things, Wearables and Consumer IoT, as well as (new) IoT's use in Vertical Markets.

Your conference registration includes all 14 @CloudExpo / @ThingsExpo Tracks:

01 @CloudExpo: Enterprise Cloud Adoption
02 @CloudExpo: DevOps, Continuous Delivery and APIs
03 @CloudExpo: Mobility & Security
04 @CloudExpo: Containers & Microservices

05 @ThingsExpo: Big Data's Use in IoT & Analytics
06 @ThingsExpo: Smart Grids & Industrial 'Internet of Things'
07 @ThingsExpo: Show Me the Money! - IoT Developer Track
08 @ThingsExpo: Wearables & Consumer IoT

Hot Topics - Day 1:
09 @ThingsExpo: Vertical 'Internet of Things' Markets
10 @ThingsExpo: Identity in IoT, RTC & WebRTC

Hot Topics - Day 2:
11 @ThingsExpo: Node.js & Event-Driven Architecture
12 @ThingsExpo: Modern Data Centers

Hot Topics - Day 3:
13 @CloudExpo: Cognitive Computing / Machine Learning
14 @CloudExpo: Maker Movement

Register FREE Before Friday! ▸ Here


A General Session, November 3-5, 2015 in Silicon Valley

@CloudExpo / @ThingsExpo 2016 New York 
(June 7-9, 2016, Javits Center, Manhattan)

@CloudExpo / @ThingsExpo 2016 Silicon Valley
(November 1-3, 2016, Santa Clara Convention Center, CA)

Speaking Proposals Open
Fourth International @ThingsExpo, co-located with 18th International @CloudExpo - being held June 7-9, 2016 at the Javits Center in New York City, announces that its Call for Papers for speaking opportunities is open. The Internet of Things (IoT) is the most profound change in personal and enterprise IT since the creation of the Worldwide Web more than 20 years ago.

Submit your speaking proposal today! ▸ Here

Sponsorship Opportunities Open
@ThingsExpo, June 7-9, 2016 at the Javits Center in New York City, is co-located with 18th Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world.

Sponsor and Exhibit at @ThingsExpo ▸ Here
Download Show Prospectus ▸ Here

Show Me The Money!
How We Built and Scaled an IoT Platform and Business

In his keynote at @ThingsExpo, Chris Matthieu, Director of IoT Engineering at Citrix and co-founder and CTO of Octoblu, focused on building an IoT platform and company. He provided a behind-the-scenes look at Octoblu's platform, business, and pivots along the way (including the Citrix acquisition of Octoblu).

Download Chris Matthieu Keynote Slide Deck: ▸ Here

@ThingsExpo Named the World's Most Influential IoT Media Brand

@ThingsExpo has been named the Top Most Influential Internet of Things'Media Brand' by Onalytica in the ‘The Internet of Things Landscape 2015: Top 100 Individuals and Brands.'

Onalytica analyzed Twitter conversations around the IoT debate to uncover the most influential brands and individuals driving the conversation.

Intel and Cisco have been named the world's most influential IoT brands, followed by SYS-CON Media's global IoT event, @ThingsExpo as the world's most influential IoT media brand. [continued]

New York and Silicon Valley Sponsors and Exhibitors
During our last New York and Silicon Valley events, over 12,000 (audited) delegates registered and participated at @ThingsExpo, in the world's largest 'Internet of Things' event, colocated with @CloudExpo. Our conference delegates met with over 160 of the world's leading technology pioneers that were among the sponsors and exhibitors, including:


Our Demo Theater on the Expo Floor attracts more delegates than the entire conference of other events

Acision, Actifio, ActiveState, AgilePoint, AIC , Akana, AlertLogic, Ambernet, Amplidata, Apacer Memory America Inc., Appcore, AppDynamics, AppZero, Aria Systems, Arista Networks, Automic, Avere Systems, Axis Communications, B2CLOUD, Basic6, Bestwebdesignagencies.com, Bitium, Blue Box , BMC, BroadSoft, Brother , Bsquare, BUMI, CA, Inc., Calm.io, CenturyLink, Ciqada, CiRBA, Cisco, Cloudant, an IBM Company, Cloudian, CoalFire, CodeFutures, COLUMN Technologies, CommVault, connect2.me, Connected Data, CrashPlan/Code42, Creative Business Solutions , Cynny Italia S.r.l, Dasher, dcVAST, DEAC, Dell, DevOps.com, Distrix , DragonGlass, Dyn, Edgecast , ElasticBox, Emcien, Endstream Communications/Open Data Centers, EnterpriseDB, e-SignLive, by Silanis, Esri, Evident.io, FierceDevOps, FireHost, Genband, Gigamon, GoodData, Gridstore, Harbinger Group , IAPP, IBM, IDenticard Access Control, Imperva, IndependenceIT, Infor, InMage, Innodisk, Intelligent Systems, Isomorhpic , ITinvolve, iwNetworks, Ixia, iXsystems , Jelastic, Kintone, KOTRA , Liaison, Litmus Automation, MangoApps, Matrix.org, MediaTek Labs, MetraTech (now part of Ericsson), Microsoft, Navisite, Net Access , Nimble Storage, NuoDB, Inc., Objectivity, OMG, Open Data Centers, OpenCrowd, Optimal Design, Oracle, OutSystems, Parasoft, Peak10, Peer 1 Hosting, PluralSight, Plutora, ProfitBricks, PubNub, Quality Technology Services , Quantum, Qubell, RackWare , Rancher Labs, Red Hat, r-evolutionapp , RingStor, Robomq.io, SafeLogic, SAP, ScaleMP, Seagate, Secure Infrastructure & Services, Sematext , SendGrid , Serena Software, Sherweb, SimpleECM, Site 24x7, Smartvue Corporation, SOASTA, SoftLayer, an IBM Company, SoftwareAG, Soha, Solgenia, SPAN Systems, Spirent, StackIQ, Stateless Networks, Storpool, Stratogent, Stratoscale, Supermicro, SUSE, Tau Institute, Telecity, Telehouse, Telestax, The New York Times , The Vision Times, TierPoint, TMCnet, Transparent Cloud Computing Consortium, Tufin, Ulunsoft, Utimaco, VASCO Data Security, Veeam, Verizon Enterprise Solutions, Vicom Computer Services, VictorOps, Virtustream, VITRIA Technology, Vormetric, WHOA.com, Will Jaya, Windstream, WSM - Website Movers International, Zentera Systems, Zerto.


New York City June 2015 Expo Floor


Silicon Valley November 2015 Expo Floor

@CloudExpo / @ThingsExpo Has Been a Must-Attend Event for Ericsson
This week, the team assembled in NYC for @Cloud Expo 2015 and @ThingsExpo 2015. For the past four years, this has been a must-attend event for MetraTech. We were happy to once again join industry visionaries, colleagues, customers and even competitors to share and explore the ways in which the Internet of Things (IoT) will impact our industry. Over the course of the show, we discussed the types of challenges we will collectively need to solve to capitalize on the opportunity IoT presents. [continued]

About SYS-CON Media & Events
SYS-CON Media (www.sys-con.com) has since 1994 been connecting technology companies and customers through a comprehensive content stream - featuring over forty focused subject areas, from Cloud Computing to Web Security - interwoven with market-leading full-scale conferences produced by SYS-CON Events. The company's internationally recognized brands include among others Cloud Expo® (@CloudExpo), Big Data Expo® (@BigDataExpo), DevOps Summit (@DevOpsSummit), @ThingsExpo® (@ThingsExpo), Containers Expo (@ContainersExpo) and Microservices Expo (@MicroservicesE).

Cloud Expo®, Big Data Expo® and @ThingsExpo® are registered trademarks of Cloud Expo, Inc., a SYS-CON Events company.

More Stories By Mehdi Daoudi

Mehdi Daoudi is the co-founder and CEO of Catchpoint Systems, a premier provider of web performance testing and monitoring solutions. His team has expertise in designing, building, operating, scaling and monitoring highly transactional Internet services used by thousands of companies that impact the experience of millions of users.

Before Catchpoint Systems, Mehdi spent 10+ years at DoubleClick and Google, where he was responsible for Quality of Services, buying, building, deploying, and using monitoring solutions to keep an eye on an infrastructure that delivered billions of transactions daily.

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