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Black FridayBlack Friday is coming, that magical shopping day when every retailer’s servers get tested to their limits. It’s also a great day to show the power of cloud computing. The elasticity of the cloud — the ability to scale your resources up or down — is one of the key benefits of cloud computing, and that feature really shines on a day like Black Friday.

If you go back about decade in time when most companies were running their own data centers, a day like Black Friday or any unusual traffic spike represented a huge challenge for IT. The company clearly required additional capacity, but how could you do it within the limits of your existing hardware? Even with virtual machines helping to use that hardware more efficiently, you are still restricted to the physical limits of the underlying machines.

It didn’t make a lot of sense for a CIO to invest in hardware that they only used for a temporary spike, but the consequences of not providing enough capacity meant people could have had trouble getting through to the website.

This probably wasn’t a problem for the born-in-the-cloud eCommerce vendors like, ahem, Amazon, but for those born as brick and mortar stores trying to adjust to life online, it certainly was a problem. And chances are many of those customers who couldn’t get onto a particular website because it didn’t have enough capacity, went to someplace that did.  

Black Friday is so named because it falls the day after Thanksgiving in the U.S. and is supposed to give retailers such a mighty lift, that it pushes them into the black and profitability. Retailers lure consumers poised to buy presents for the holidays with loss leaders galore and people rush the physical stores and the websites in a frantic bargain-crazed rush.

Whether it’s true that Black Friday really does what it’s supposed to for either party, it has become a phenomenon unto itself, and not surprisingly people who would rather avoid mobs and lines at the mall are increasingly moving their shopping online.

Adobe has been tracking the online Black Friday numbers for the last several years, and as you would expect, the numbers are big and keep getting bigger.

2014 2015 2016 2017
Black Friday Online Revenue $3.0B $3.5B $4.3B $5.0B (forecasted)

According to comScore that involved 116 million people visiting online retail sites on Black Friday in 2016.

All of this means that the crowds are shifting from the mall to the web, and as that happens you are going to need additional resources. The cloud will provide whatever you require for that big rush and then let them go away when it’s over. That’s why a week like this was made for the cloud. It just makes this kind of day so much easier to handle than it once was, regardless whether you’re Amazon, a much smaller retail player, or something in between.

Photo: leolintang/

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Ron Miller

Posted by Ron Miller

Ron Miller is a freelance technology reporter and blogger. He is contributing editor at EContent Magazine and enterprise reporter at TechCrunch.

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