5 Must-Do Things from eCommerce Infrastructure Designers

“Had I known where I would fall I wouldn't have come to that place at all!” How often do you remember this saying struggling with another server unavailability, low website performance or internal errors?

5 Must-Do Things from eCommerce Infrastructure Designers
A To-Do List from eCommerce Experts 

Hi there, this is the Scalesta hosting team. Since 2006 we have been working as infrastructure designers and hosting providers for 1000+ clients. In this article we collected 5 must-do things for eCommerce entrepreneurs that will help avoid the most common mistakes related to IT infrastructure. So, let's begin.

Number 1. Say No to Friday releases

The eCommerce industry is rapidly growing and so do your competitors. To stay on top you constantly develop new features, add new integrations and third-party plugins, and strive to upload updates to the production server as soon as possible. Any release, deploy or update can lead to numerous failures: website unavailability, front-end errors on storefront, back-end errors affecting checkout and payment transitions, critical vulnerabilities. And if during a normal weekday you will catch and remedy the abnormalities at a regular pace, at weekends things are far more complicated. All this might result in business interruption and damage to reputation, extra spending on developers and sysadmins, etc.

We found that the best time to upload updates to eCommerce websites is Tuesday morning. According to statistics, Sundays and Mondays remain the best days of the week for online sales. So you will have at your disposal at least 4 working days for comprehensive testing.

Work out a strict rule: if you do not have time to upgrade before lunch on Thursday, better postpone the launch until next week in order not to make the upcoming weekend unforgettable for your tech and support teams.

Number 2. Make a backup before updating your website

This time let’s speak about updating. Any software whether a CMS or a third-party plugin needs regular updating for performance and security patches. Updates also bring new marketable features for better user experience (UX/UI), marketing and sales. But unfortunately, only a few online stores keep the original CMS out-of-box. Numerous modifications and design integrations might significantly affect the core of your CMS, so you must be very careful and far-seeing while updating your project.

Here is a story from our client. In the ideal world you would make updates once a year but hence the process is costly and troublesome our client missed several updates. Finally, the CMS developers introduced a new payment gateway for worldwide payments and here came a decision to update the store using a recommended updating service. At 6 p.m our monitoring system started to create tickets that the client’s project was not available and returned numerous errors. Luckily, our hosting solution provides free daily backups, so we managed to restore the project with minimum data losses. But if not?

Remember to make a backup every time you plan to introduce any changes to your project including the CMS update. Check again with your SysOps or hosting provider the frequency of backups - daily backup is something you shouldn’t save on for better sleep and stronger nerve cells.

Number 3. Check status of your hosting subscription

One of our clients shared a story that happened to him a few years ago. November was a busy month for his team as he planned an ambitious Black Friday campaign with a series of newsletters, colorful banners on his website and aggressive advertising on local TV. Rubbing his hands in anticipation of profit, our hero forgot to check his hosting subscription account and Black Friday started with an awkward “Temporarily Closed” sign. We advise you to buy auto-renewed subscriptions and choose hosting providers who will 1) remind you in case your account comes to limit and 2) warn you several times before closing your subscription. In Scalesta we do both of this.

Check your balance! It will be very disappointing if, due to such a trifle as a lack of funds on the account balance, the server will turn off and buyers will not be able to access the site.

Number 4. Introduce Level Access Management

The ability of employees to install “everything they need for work” on their own or make changes to server configurations turns your website infrastructure into a hub of conflicting and counterfeit software at best, and at worst into a virus distribution center. As the business grows, these excess rights will increasingly be reflected in the cost of support.

Separation of access rights was invented not to infringe the feelings of those who were born as a system administrator at heart. The ability to restrict access to system settings allows you to exclude the impact of incompetent actions or simple user errors. Never send SSH access credentials or other sensitive information via emails or messengers. Make sure your hosting provider has the protected channel for data exchange.

The practice of restricting access rights allows to save on the cost of support and significantly increase the stability of the whole infrastructure.

Number 5. Use scalable solutions for infrastructure design

There is a huge number of solutions in the market designed specifically for small businesses - namely software licenses, free plugins, shared and VPS hosting, and small network storages. All of them have one thing in common - their functionality and capabilities are strictly limited. And worst of all, some of these restrictions are often impossible to remove at any cost. For this reason, when a business grows, it faces a choice: either put up with limits and inconveniences, and live on with them, or rebuild everything completely.

When making decisions about the eCommerce infrastructure, it is worth focusing not only on the price and functionality of the solution now, but also on the capabilities to scale this solution later. This will prevent you from spending money on unnecessary resources at the moment. Say, at the launch stage, you probably don't need Kubernetes and auto-scaling, because your traffic flow is predictable, and a Basic hosting plan adapted for your project can withstand the load.

Choose a hosting solution that can grow together with your business not only in terms of server capacity but also in terms of website performance and security which becomes essential for bigger projects. Check if your provider uses DevOps practices and describes the infrastructure systems with IaC tools. 

So, that’s all for today, let’s once again have a quick look at 5 Must-Do Things from eCommerce Infrastructure Designers and remember them as ABC.

A To-Do List from eCommerce Experts @scalesta 

For those who do not want to dive deep into hosting complexities we designed the SCALESTA hosting solution. Scalesta is a high-end managed hosting provider for eCommerce projects. We guarantee top performance, security, and expert support to a business of any size. Our team consists of developers, SysOps, and DevOps engineers who work with eCommerce platforms on a daily basis and make projects better, faster, and more effective.