With the start of the 2012 holiday shopping season just around the corner, online retailers have a lot to think about. The year-end shopping season can account for 30-40 percent of an online retailer’s annual revenue, so it’s understandable that major investment and planning are already underway for things like marketing campaigns, website optimization and perfecting the user experience. But often overlooked is the importance of DNS performance, one of the most critical components of maintaining website functionality.
Verisign recently published a State of the DNS Availability report, which takes a look at the role of DNS uptime in e-commerce. Some of the most interesting takeaways from the report are:
- Despite continued economic sluggishness in 2011, online shopping flourished. There was a 13.5% increase in online sales over 2010 with an all time high of $161.5 billion.
- Companies are spending more to drive customers to their stores with online advertising surging to $32 billion in 2011 and expected to hit $39.5 billion this year.
- The Internet’s top 500 e-tail websites had a combined average downtime of .36 percent during the critical 2011 holiday shopping period.
With all of this investment in e-commerce, both from consumers and businesses, it is vital that the most important element for enabling transactions on ecommerce websites – availability – not be forgotten. The DNS enables the availability of websites, email and Web systems by mapping domain names to IP addresses. It is what enables customers to find and shop on a website. When DNS isn’t working correctly for a website, visitors receive an error message and cannot reach the site. This is obviously bad for an e-tail business because customers get frustrated and move on to competitors’ sites to get what they want.
The examination of DNS uptime by the numbers done for the State of DNS Availability report makes this picture clear: Loss of DNS equals loss of revenue. The average rate of downtime for the Internet’s top 500 e-tail sites, discussed in the report, was .36 percent. While it may not look significant, that equates to more than 32 hours of website unavailability over the course of a year. Considering that’s the average, that means some of the world’s top e-tail websites – those with the most resources and highest stake in insuring availability - were likely offline upwards of 50 hours a year.
Now imagine what those availability numbers must look like for smaller mom and pop sites that often have few IT resources and would be devastated by such downtime. This inability to maintain availability is driving more and more online businesses to use managed DNS services and entrust their website availability to the experts.
With the holidays fast approaching, if you haven’t already, it is vital to incorporate a thorough review of your DNS infrastructure, processes and management as a part of planning and preparing for the shopping season. Whether your business manages DNS internally or is considering working with a DNS service provider like Verisign, some important best practices to consider for helping to ensure DNS availability include:
- Multiple, geo-distributed name servers for high availability
- Multiple ISP connections at each data center
- Over-provisioned services to counter attacks and handle peak loads
- Real-time domain and Internet monitoring tools
- Expert 24x7 support and monitoring
- Robust security for name servers
- Business continuity and disaster recovery plan for DNS
It is apparent that shoppers expect a lot from online businesses and will only expect more in the future. Maintaining a reputation for website availability is just as important as having the best quality and best priced products to keep any online business competitive and successful in the future.
Have you been impacted by website downtime? Leave a comment to tell me how and what you did to resolve your issue?