A Black Eye on Black Friday: Outages & Data Loss Looming for Retailers

5227664185_c14425cc2a_b_black-friday-saleWith Black Friday rapidly approaching—followed closely by Cyber Monday—all eyes are on the leading retailers—from Amazon to Best Buy to eBay, Target and Walmart—to see who can withstand the massive influx of hundreds of millions of online and in-store purchases set to push IT systems to the brink of collapse.

Who will break? Whose site will go down? Whose band-aid approach to IT will make the headlines? When your revenue generating app is down, is not’s just deferred revenue—it’s lost revenue—especially during Black Friday when consumers can just click on a competitor’s site for a similarly priced deal if yours site or app has crashed, is non-responsive or is “undergoing maintenance.”

As researchers at Experian-IMRG in the UK recently stated, “the size and scale of Black Friday 2014 took everyone by surprise, overwhelming some carrier and retailer operations, as order volumes came in at a full 30 per cent higher than expectation. All the indicators point to a much larger Black Friday this year.”

In a unique move, Amazon is offering certain Black Friday deals only through its mobile app this year, such as a 50-inch LED TV for $150. Not to be outdone, Best Buy is offering a Toshiba 49-inch LED TV for $149, although limiting its availability to physical Best Buy locations.

With prices hitting all-time lows and consumers ready to go on a spending rampage for immediate gratification, the question remains—how will IT stack up this year?

Rapid transaction processing will be critical but being able to get back in business once you go down will be even more critical. Being able to recover a database to a specific point-in-time and resume business operations after a disaster takes place becomes priority number one.

Unfortunately most retailers are lacking a solid backup strategy, let alone a sound data recovery strategy. While Wikibon has analyzed plenty of products focused on data backup—from data deduplication appliances to generic NAS filers—we’ve never seen more emphasis on actual data recovery than we’ve noticed with the Oracle Zero Data Loss Recovery Appliance—which as Wikibon Chief Research Officer Dave Vellante noted, is the most integrated recovery system specifically designed for Oracle Databases that we’ve seen to date.

Essentially exhibiting the traits of a “time machine” for retailers running Oracle Database, the Recovery Appliance enables companies to reconstruct a database instance from any desired point in time, be it two days ago, yesterday or two minutes ago. The system captures all incremental changes to a database that a large retailer would operate and transfers them from production database servers directly from memory in real-time to a Oracle Recovery Appliance, where they can be reassembled into a full blown Database instance on-demand.

The Recovery Appliance essentially eliminates the stress associated with the decades-old question “do we have a good backup from yesterday’s transactions?” by essentially behaving like a DVR for the enterprise—recording all the changes that you make to your database and playing them back to save your job when it’s on the line.

Companies that go down this week will need help restoring their reputation and their revenue streams. Technology like Oracle’s will be working behind the scenes to help retailers restore both.   Lets see what happens this Friday.

As supply chains and underlying IT foundations are under unmitigated pressure this year—combined with the pressure to deliver ultra low prices at razor thin margins—whose business operation is on the verge of collapse will be a question rotating on many industry watchers’ minds.