January 3, 2005, 12:00 AM

As traffic peaked during holidays, Overstock managed to speed up page loads

The downside of surging online growth is the difficulty in serving up fast-loading web pages. With new servers, Overstock managed to cut average page-loading time by a half second even as daily traffic hit well over 1 million visitors.

 

The downside of surging online growth is the difficulty in handling heavy traffic with fast-loading web pages. With new servers, Overstock.com managed to cut average page-loading time to 1.7 seconds from 2.2 seconds even as its daily traffic hit well over 1 million visitors. “A half second is huge when serving a million visitors a day,” Shawn Schwegman, vice president of technology, tells InternetRetailer.com.

Although Schwegman was unable to provide a peak daily traffic figure for the recent holiday season, he says Overstock’s fourth-quarter peak daily traffic typically runs at double or more its Q2 peak daily traffic. Q2 peak traffic last year hit between 400,000 and 550,000 visitors per day and rose to 500,000 to 650,000 in Q3, he says.

In the holiday shopping season of 2003, Overstock ran into difficulties in serving pages from its stored product data. It has since switched its storage servers from Network Appliance to EMC Corp.’s EMC Symmetrix DMX servers, which integrate with Oracle databases running on clusters of Dell and Red Hat Linux servers.

In addition to making web pages load faster, the EMC technology also lets Overstock create copies of databases in minutes rather than hours, Schwegman says.

 

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