Do chief information officers really prepare and provision their datacentre backbones especially for Christmas?  Do CIOs honestly talk to systems architects, software development team leaders and individual programmers about the festive season and plan for an additional data burden?

The fact is that the IT industry has a vibrant and healthy media and publicity scene.  So come the “holiday season” (let’s use the politically correct term), the stories turn to the so-called seasonal spike ahead.

Of course, Christmas is really only one seasonal spike among many for the truly discerning CIO.  During normal trading hours companies witness demand spikes for any number of reasons including new product launches, web-based viral (usually positive) publicity surges and even the weather.


IT stack support selection pack

So given that we accept that spikes will occur, how many supporting disciplines within the total IT stack are available to help us deal with the ups and downs of our day-to-day operational mechanics?

Cloud computing is an obvious frontline contender for those firms looking to ‘engineer-in’ some additional flexibility and elasticity within their operation.  Logically then, right after cloud hosting and virtualisation specialists line up to support the seasonal spike, we find cloud management software vendors.

While “cloud management software” on its own is a scarily generic search term to consider to go researching, firms such as NetSuite appear to be making a decent living selling products labelled as “professional services automation solutions” and such like.

Products like NetSuite’s solutions essentially exist to manage cloud resources for firms that would typically have global operations and need to be able to get so-called “real-time visibility” into their business data flows.


… automate & manage, repeat to fade

Essentially, NetSuite’s PSA and services resource planning (SRP) software is intended to help “services organisations” using cloud (and more traditional technologies) automate and manage key aspects of their business.  So it is these same words again and again i.e. “automate and manage” and this means the ability to manage growth and maximise the productivity of current IT resources and, ultimately, to know when new resources (cloud based or otherwise) need to be brought in and purchased.

Going perhaps one level deeper, we find firms focused on the actual flow and performance of data from an enterprise management perspective such as Riverbed Technology.  This is a firm that offers a portfolio of performance solutions for the public cloud, including wide area network (WAN) optimisation, cloud storage gateways, application delivery and web application firewall security.

So not only do we need to manage our data through the spikes and troughs and the slings and arrows of seasonally unpredictable market fluctuations, we also need to think about protecting that data especially when it is deployed in the public cloud.


Festive facts or fabrication?

Just to bring the discussion back around to Christmas, Riverbed has recently conducted a survey which suggests the following:

  • 45 per cent of Europeans are planning to spend more time shopping online in the run up to the Christmas period compared to last year
  • more than half (55 per cent) of Europeans now prefer to shop online rather than in-store
  • 69 percent of respondents admitted that they would feel uncomfortable making payments on websites that were slow, or struggled to load.


The study, which was commissioned by Riverbed and conducted by research group OnePoll, surveyed 2,700 people across France, Germany, and the UK on how they plan to purchase their Christmas gifts this year.

Now clearly this is the first of many surveys, but hopefully this discussion highlights the fact that demand spikes occur for any number of reasons, there is more than one supporting layer of technology/ancillary services available to address IT management challenges in this space… and finally, the PR industry won’t fail to highlight these facts in the pre-Christmas rush for 2013.  Have a happy holiday!