The immediacy and convenience of the Internet continues to eat into the traditional high street as shoppers realise they can skip the Christmas queues and get their presents online. This year online spend it predicted to be at its highest and according to a Logan Tod Shopping index in January, more than half of the UK’s online shoppers intend to increase their online shopping spend in the run up to Christmas 2008 (despite the recession). With this increased interest, e-tailers are under considerable pressure to prepare for the rush to prevent their businesses from crumbling under the pressure.

In order to ensure a stable and robust online presence to cope with the high traffic demands experienced during the run up to Christmas there has been a significant increase in the number of e-tailers opting for a managed hosting service over the past couple of years. This is because a dedicated server with managed services is not only more secure but it enables an e-tailer to book up dedicated bandwidth and back up their website/s so that they can handle these spikes in activity. Depending on the managed hosting provider, you might find they don’t cap your bandwidth but allow it through so your site is always live and generating revenue, plus you have a support team provided 24/7/365 to look after your solution so you don’t have to!

In a managed hosting environment the provider owns and is responsible for the back-end: the data centre; network; devices; operating system; and application infrastructure, which are the key components to ensuring a stable operating environment for all online applications.

This approach suits many e-tailers, as it frees up IT resource from the mundane day-to-day routine of managing the infrastructure and means it can be reallocated to projects aimed at taking the business forward. However, operating systems are becoming heavier and databases built to run increasingly complicated queries to support an interactive user experience; especially during the festive period where all the traders on the internet are making their web pages flashier, faster and more alluring than the last. So, it’s essential for a scalable infrastructure to be ready on demand to cope with the surge in web activity.

If you are an e-tailer you can’t afford to miss the vital infrastructure element that makes your website work and ensures a revenue stream during this vital period. If your site isn’t live your competitors will be and they will take the business from you. So make sure this Christmas you plan ahead to achieve their goals and ensure smooth operations, or face the consequences.

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