IT resilience: Handling heavy traffic on Cyber Monday

By Christian Bamberger on 28. November 2014 in Global Payment Gateway, Market Insights



Cyber Monday, the eCommerce equivalent of Black Friday, can mean big revenues for retail merchants as the holiday shopping season kicks into high gear. But opportunity also brings challenges for merchants. For example, in 2013, the ten days with the most CNP fraud all happened in November, peaking on Cyber Monday. However activation of suitable fraud prevention solutions is just one challenge faced by merchants.

The huge surge in eCommerce web traffic and transaction volumes on Cyber Monday means that merchants must also be supported by robust and resilient payment infrastructure. For payment service providers, this “heavy traffic” is a real litmus test of their IT resilience – specifically their availability and capacity to deal with peaks in transaction volume that are unmatched on any other day of the year.

Payment service providers and independent sales organizations need to ensure that their IT infrastructure can accommodate these ever-increasing peaks and guarantee highest availability, however many legacy systems and older gateways fall short of the high expectations that merchants now have. PAY.ON’s white label payment gateway gives payment service providers and independent sales organizations the ability to outsource omni-channel payment processing, and provide world-class service to their global clients, knowing they are backed by industry-leading IT infrastructure.

IT resilience is the cornerstone of reliable payment infrastructure

From a PAY.ON perspective, resilience is really the umbrella term for availability, security, scalability, and sustainability. Availability means reliably processing transactions at all times, including coping with peaks in transaction volume on Cyber Monday and during the holiday shopping season. Security, of course, is offering the highest security standards at all times. Sustainability and scalability essentially means having a system that is ‘future proof’, which is why PAY.ON’s operations team continuously optimizes our IT infrastructure and refines the source code. This approach means that our payment gateway is always a market leader, and our payment service provider and independent sales organization clients will never have to contend with outdated payment processing technologies.

Highest availability with a redundant active-active setup

Within the broader topic of IT resilience, availability is the key to accommodating peaks in transaction volume. In order to offer availability of 99.99%, PAY.ON operates two active redundant data centers in London, with one hot disaster recovery site. Redundant availability in both of the London data centers (part of the TelecityGroup), means that even if one of the data centers is completely shut down, the other data center can process all transactions, even accommodating peak transaction volumes. London also offers the advantage of having two active data centers in one city, which is very hard to find elsewhere in Europe. As a result there is very low latency between the data centers and high-speed synchronization. This active-active setup, supported by 150 ISPs (internet service providers) running in the background, sets PAY.ON apart from the vast majority of European payment providers.

Superior availability and faster processing times due to an optimal physical location

Payment providers based in Europe who are not using an active-active setup will generally have not only lower availability, but also slower transaction processing speeds due to network latency. This is because ISPs use least cost routing, which generally means having different contracts with backbone providers. As a result, and because of the backbone topology of Europe, Munich-London-Berlin routing is cheaper than Munich-Berlin. Data centers located in London therefore involve less ‘hops’ for any payment information, ultimately saving time. Additionally, the majority of transatlantic submarine communications cables terminate in the UK, rather than mainland Europe, which is a further advantage to processing global payment data in London data centers. Although differences in speed are measured in 100ths of a second, ultimately this can affect the loading time of a hosted payment page, and therefore impacts shopper experience.

Handling heavy traffic

The redundant active-active setup described above allows PAY.ON to cater to the demands of the market. Merchants are asking us to handle up to 1200 transactions per second, which is actually well in excess of what we expect them to process. Amazon, for example, sold about 426 items per second last Cyber Monday (2013). What is important is showing that our IT infrastructure can handle these desired maximum peaks in traffic. PAY.ON has a resilience ‘roadmap’ in place – which runs from Black Friday to Black Friday – where transactions are constantly monitored and any performance issues are addressed. Virtualization is used in the back-end to ensure that the server setup can accommodate spikes in traffic. Excellent monitoring and planning processes are all important, and through monitoring procedures for every phase of a transaction, our operations team knows how much resource is used in each phase, and can optimize systems accordingly.

PAY.ON does not contract merchants, which means that we are entirely focused on providing IT infrastructure that not only meets but exceeds the demands of our global clients. payment service providers and independent sales organizations can concentrate on their core business, safe in the knowledge that they’re outsourcing payment processing to a fully PCI-certified gateway that not only provides 99.99% availability, but also supports them with a suite of fraud prevention solutions and industry-leading payment security.

How is your business equipped to deal with the challenges of Cyber Monday and the holiday shopping season? Let us know in the comments below.




Christian Bamberger

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Christian BambergerView all posts by Christian Bamberger


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