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    Categories Networking TechnologyPerformance Monitoring

I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa … but Which Elf is Slowing Down my Network?

Every year around this time, people start to give thanks.  Either for the things they have, for the people in their lives or for the great gifts.  During the following weeks, there will be mistletoe hanging, carolers caroling and a whole bunch of people shopping online for the best deals.  With all this shopping, there are network performance concerns all around.  Some concerns are from the retailers and the team(s) maintaining their e-commerce, others are from the users of those e-commerce sites and others still are from the employers of all the shoppers. We were curious just how much Cyber Monday would affect network performance this year, so we performed some tests using our PathView Cloud solution.

From the retailer’s perspective, they would like to validate the performance of their website, making sure that it is responding quickly enough, especially when people are searching for specific goods.  I tested this with our AppView Web module, which provides the End User Experience in addition to many other important performance metrics. I setup a script to some major retailers, such as Walmart.com, searching for the iPad mini to see how long the search would take.

For this search, we can see that most of the delay was on the server side. The results of these searches varied as the day went on, but having this insight addresses only half of the difficulties.  We were able to go beyond just the website or web app, but down to the server hosting the given page or application, providing response times of the network and the server being connected to. In the screenshot below, we can see that the search and result rendering took longer than the homepage load during Cyber Monday.

The other major Cyber Monday concern is felt by employers.  Cyber Monday is the most notorious day for online shopping, so how do you know if your employees are working while in the office or shopping?  For this part of the experiment, I used our FlowView module to break down and analyze all of the traffic being generated on our network on Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

The results of my experiment were unexpected, as you’ll see in the below screenshots. I found that more people were visiting sites like Amazon.com and Target.com on Black Friday than on Cyber Monday.  On Cyber Monday, both Amazon.com and Target.com were among the top 10 applications being accessed on our network. However, on Black Friday they dropped down to spots 17 and 21.

I had assumed that our network would see a spike in traffic heading to e-retailers on Cyber Monday, but as I did some more research, I realized that our network patterns might be indicative of a larger trend. With the rise in prolonged online discounts, consumers seem to be doing more of their online shopping on Black Friday and in to December rather than on Cyber Monday alone than ever before. NBCnews.com reported that Black Friday online sales topped $1 billion for the first time this year and Mashable wrote that online sales increased by 17.4% on Thanksgiving Day and 20.7% on Black Friday compared to last year.

While this trend seems to have positive implications for the consumers, what does it mean for the state of your networks in the upcoming holiday seasons? Did you do anything this year to prepare your networks for the strain of holiday shopping? 

Team AppNeta: